Finish up the challenge feeling strong with this workout from senior editor Chris Foster.

As we come near the end of our Triathlete Challenge, the last workout has one thing triathletes like and one thing triathletes don’t: 1) symmetry and 2) speed work. For the 30th day of the Triathlete Challenge, we’ll be doing three sets of 30-30s—a workout that will finish up the month strong by shaking out your legs and springboarding you into the rest of your season on the right foot. As the year is still early, be sure you go by effort on this workout and follow the efforts. Though your legs won’t necessarily be ready for speed, it’s a good idea to remind them what speed feels like. 

30-30s Run Workout

Warm Up

10 minute easy jog

Dynamic stretching/plyometric routine 

5 minutes of: 15 sec build to Rate of Perceived Exertion (RPE) of 7/10, 45 sec easy

Main Set

Though deceptively simple (aren’t the hardest workouts always this way?), this is a tough group of sets that requires a bit of respect early on. Ask yourself during the first two sets: “Could I be going faster?” If the answer is no, then back it down immediately. Don’t paint yourself into a corner you can’t get out of later. Be sure to take two minutes of easy jogging between each set to check back in with your form.

Set #1: 10 x (30 sec build to 7/10 RPE, Zone 3-4; 30 sec very easy, Zone 1); 2 min easy jog

Set #2: 5 x (30 sec build to 8/10 RPE, Zone 4; 30 sec very easy, Zone 1); 2 min easy jog

Set #3: 5 x (30 sec build to 9/10 RPE, Zone 4-5; 30 sec very easy, Zone 1); 2 min easy jog

Novice runners can make this into 30-60s for the last two sets—30 sec on, 60 sec off. 

Advanced runners can add another five rounds to set #2 and/or reduce the easy jog between sets.

Cool down

5 minutes run at 4/10 RPE, Zone 2

10 minutes easy jog

How to integrate this run workout into a training plan

While this is best done during the build or peak phase of a training plan, it’s low impact enough that it can be sprinkled into the base-building phase as a way to shake up the inevitable plateau of base mileage. Just recognize that this is meant to go by effort, so don’t measure your distances on a track or via GPS to keep things under control and realistic. In the training week, an easy “leg” day (preferably bike) should follow, but you shouldn’t need to necessarily take it easy the day before to prepare for the 30-30s. Also, don’t expect fire in the pool if you swim afterwards.

Meet Your Coach

Chris Foster is the senior editor of Triathlete magazine, a former pro ITU/short-course triathlete, and a high school cross-country/distance track coach. He has represented the U.S. at elite triathlon world championships and has coached runners at both the beginner and high school state level. Foster is also the author of The Triathlete Guide to Sprint and Olympic Triathlon Racing.