An Intermediate 5k Training Plan!
I have always hated running. It hurts my lanky body, and I get bored and restless. However, I’ve always WISHED I could learn to run and love it — and maybe even complete a 3-mile race. Can you relate?
Thus it was with great interest that I learned of the first ever workout program on the Beachbody on Demand fitness platform which focuses on running: “30 Day Breakaway.” Curious know how the program honestly went, and whether I was able to achieve the end goal of running a 5k? Read on.
Why Trust This Workout Program Review?
I am NOT a Beachbody coach, meaning I have no financial incentive for you to do this program or not — I am just a 39 year old middle school English teacher who is managing stress by obsessively working out and writing honest, wildly detailed exercise program reviews.
I have now done seven (!) Beachbody on Demand workout programs in their entirety (see all my Beachbody reviews here), and I honestly DO every workout in each program I write up. I also take tons of notes (with my sweaty post-workout hands) in order to prep for these articles. Yes, it’s really geeky — and hopefully also helpful. Trust me? Yay! Let’s dive right in.
Overview of “30 Day Breakaway”
This new intermediate-level Beachbody running program lasts one month, and alternates between running workouts (mostly intervals: fast and slow combinations) with resistance strength training like weightlifting, culminating in a timed 5k race. Runs can be completed outdoors with audio-only coaching, or inside on a treadmill with beautiful videos.
The “Super Trainer” behind “30DBA” is Idalis Velazquez: the delightful Puerto Rican-born athlete who created Beachbody’s first Spanish-language exercise program, “Mes de Más.” Excitingly, “30 Day Breakaway” is available in both English and Spanish, launching availability March 22, 2021.
As with all fitness programs, please use common sense, listen to your body, and if needed, consult a doctor before starting. Now, let’s explore the pros and cons of this program to help determine if it might be a fit for you.
Pros: Positives of “30DBA”
A. It actually works for learning to run!
WHAT?! I never thought it possible for myself to get into the habit of running for 20 minutes, 3-4 days a week — and enjoy it! — but “30 Day Breakaway” delivered. I was even able to complete the 5k at the end with a time I’m proud of (more on that later), despite the fact that I’ve barely jogged a mile in the past decade, and never run a 5k before. What’s the secret for the effectiveness of this program in dissolving running hatred? INTERVAL TRAINING.
Nearly all of the runs in “30DBA” are some form of intervals: mixing fast and slow running and walking (thank goodness for walking!) in different patterns. This tricks your mind into continuing, since you think: “All I have to do is put in full effort for 30 seconds, then I can slow down.” Repeat that in assortment of lengths — exertion, recovery, exertion — and all of a sudden you’ve covered two miles! What a sense of accomplishment… plus that euphoric “runner’s high.”
B. Extremely flexible schedule.
“30 Day Breakaway” is more of a “choose your own adventure” than any other Beachbody program I’ve done. There are THREE different official calendars to modify up or down in terms of time and intensity: Regular, Time Crunch, and Advanced.
For example, the main calendar combines the 25-minute resistance and 20-minute running workouts for 50-minute workout days with one rest day and one roll-out day per week (so basically two rest days). Meanwhile, the Time Crunch Calendar has short 30-minute workouts each day because it splits the running and resistance over separate days. This calendar has one rest day (with rolling) per week.
C. Modifications and choice abound.
Every workout, Idalis explains choices that can alter the effects of the exercise or modify up or down in difficulty. As a teacher, I really appreciate this differentiation: various versions of the same lesson to fit the many different student needs and levels in a classroom.
For example, in “Meta Burn” (a metabolic conditioning workout), you have the choice of one bicep curl or two after each burpee, depending on whether you want to move faster, or focus on more lifting. The trainer also often offers ideas for how to extend the workout after the video ends (ex: “Continue with a light jog if desired”).
The running workouts are also full of choice, frequently presenting the option of whether to walk OR jog for the slow portions of interval days. Further, “30 Day Breakaway” offers the option of both audio and video versions of each running workout. It’s difficult for an online exercise program to authentically espouse “unplugging,” but with the audio, you actually can take your run outside and “break away” from screens. What a welcome technology cleanse!
D. Gorgeously filmed in nature.
“30 Day Breakaway” is STUNNINGLY BEAUTIFUL. Words cannot express how amazing the views are. Every single workout is filmed in a spot in nature which takes one’s breath away: including a desert, a mountain, and a lake. (Very exciting for this gal who lives in a state where the tallest “mountain” is Mount Greylock.)
In fact, some of the video runs are so authentically “in the wild” that the road ends, and Idalis has to turn back! At one point she also almost fell in a lake. I am deeply curious HOW Beachbody filmed these off-road locations. Was the cameraman running?!
While there isn’t music in the program except for the audio runs (do “Morning Meltdown 100,” or #mbf and #mbfa if you want music), there are real nature sounds (birds and cicadas) which made me write in my notes one day: “This program is soooo chill and relaxing!” It does a body and soul good to connect with Mother Earth, even through a screen.
E. Super Trainer Idalis is positive and lovely.
Do you like fitness trainers who are encouraging and loving, instead of tough-love and harsh? Idalis Velazquez is your gal! Her style is warm, inclusive, and welcoming. With her almost musical voice, she gives positive workout motivation, and frequently celebrates the joy of nature and working out. “This one of my favorite exercises” is a phrase said often!
Beyond her excellent vibe, Idalis does an excellent job in cueing, cooing reminders about form like “Lift your chest up” or “Land on your mid-foot.” Her coaching about breathing is some of the best I’ve seen on Beachbody, and you can often hear her inhaling deeply as a reminder of the central function of thoughtful respiration during exercise. Oh — and when she’s tired, she laughs! It made me smile.
F. Great Spanish language version.
There aren’t many programs which have high-quality versions of the workouts in different languages, but because Idalis is from Puerto Rico and bilingual, she’s able to do both versions beautifully. Fun teacher tip: On days which call for repeated videos, try the Spanish version for your second round! One of the best ways to improve in another language is to associate physical movements with words.
G. Motivating to have the 5k as an end goal.
The secret to keeping motivated through a month of anything is to have a clear, measurable goal at the end. Few Beachbody on Demand programs offer as perfect an end goal as the 5k (3.1 mile race) culmination of “30 Day Breakaway!” You can also post your time to compare with others, and even compete against yourself if you do multiple rounds of the program.
On the printable calendars, there are blanks to write in the distance you cover for every running workout, so you can start to see your progress. What was my 5k time? A solid 29:34, beating my goal of doing it in under 30 minutes. Not bad, considering that I am a self-professed running-hater who has barely even jogged in the past decade and has never before done a timed 5k!
H. Good music for audio runs.
One of my issues with running is boredom, so I was thrilled to learn that the audio versions of the runs feature dramatic, inspiring music soundtracks to go with Idalis’s coaching and directions during the workout! I felt like part of a movie montage, racing up a hill to the beats playing…
I. On-screen countdown timer.
Every workout in “30 Day Breakaway” has a countdown timer on the screen which helps clarify how much longer is in the workout or section. The screen also often specifies what is going on. For example, interval training on treadmill videos is measured by “RPE” or “Rate of Perceived Exertion” (how hard you’re working on a self-assessed scale of 1-10), so the screen might say: “RPE 7-9” to remind you how fast to be running. I loved those reminders!
Cons: Problems With “30DBA”
1. One workout is several different videos.
Depending on which calendar you’re using, every day of “30 Day Breakway” is usually two different videos which you manually put together. In the regular calendar, you’re adding one resistance workout to a running one. In the Time Crunch Calendar, the 5-minute warm-up and cool-down videos book-end the day’s exercises.
While I appreciate the flexibility this “mix and match” approach provides, it is dangerous when placed in the wrong hands (er, mine). How many of us out there get lazy and grumble, “I’m sick of adding this extra warm-up video — let me just dive right into the workout…” and then promptly injure ourselves? I did this on Week 2, and was dealing with an inflamed Achilles Tendon for the rest of the program. Argh.
2. Repeated videos.
Very few of the new Beachbody on Demand programs require repeating workouts (except “4 Weeks of The Prep“), so I was surprised to see how many repeats the “30 Day Breakaway” calendar calls for. In particular, the warm ups and cool downs and “Rest Day Roll-Out” are constantly repeated (10-12 times each!), and I think the implication here is you should memorize the moves to the point you don’t need those videos any more.
Most of the running and resistance workouts repeat a second time. This could be a positive thing for the running workouts, since it takes time to understand how each of the interval patterns work, but which gets a little frustrating for the resistance, especially if you’re used to the BOD “Real Time” style programs which have fresh episodes for each day. (Yes, “80 Day Obsession” is EIGHTY separate videos, and “21 Day Fix: Real Time” features new videos for all the “Bonus 10 Minute Abs” videos, even though they’re the same workout, simply so you don’t have to listen to the same jokes twice!)
3. Running workouts better than resistance.
The hands-down strength of “30 Day Breakaway” are the running workouts. They are unlike anything I’ve ever seen or experienced, and they are top notch! That said, the resistance workouts are fine, but didn’t blow me away in the same way — perhaps because I prefer more of a “tough love” trainer (like Amoila Cesar) for weightlifting and strength training.
3. Sometimes doesn’t feel complete.
Another reason I didn’t adore the resistance strength training days was they somehow didn’t feel full-body enough. The issue may be that I was comparing them against “9 Week Control Freak,” which I’d just finished: a program so well-rounded that there was never any doubt all body regions would be worked.
In contrast, I often found myself needing to do extra ab work during “30 Day Breakaway.” Yes, every day has core work in some way, but not as explicit or targeted as I’ve come to desire. If “30DBA” is one of your first Beachbody on Demand programs, you may not have this same craving.
4. Perhaps too much left to choice.
There are so many options, calendars, and modifications offered in “30 Day Breakaway” that it can cause a problem put in the wrong hands (again, me). You start following one calendar, then realize you want to shift to the other, then begin making your own calendar — and all of a sudden you’re a muddled mess. No!
There is a certain calm clarity that comes with doing a program which has ONE path that you do your best to follow. If you’re a person who needs that more rigid structure, “30DBA” might not be a fit, because of the temptation to modify it beyond recognition.
5. Lots of beeping and counting down.
Though I’m a big fan of on-screen countdown timers, the audible beeping at to mark the start and end of some exercises was a bit much. Further, Idalis often launches starting a move by saying, “Five, four, three, two, one!” While this is meant to build excitement, it actually slows things down. The “Three, two, one!” countdowns are better for flow and keeping the heart-rate up.
6. No cast besides the trainer.
“30 Day Breakaway” was filmed in 2020, so there were some (ahem) limitations to people being as close together as a cast would need to be. Idalis is delightful, but I did find myself realizing that having other cast members makes the workout go by faster, because you can focus on their banter — and even intrigue (like learning that Kevin Caliber from “6 Weeks of The Work” is also a romance novel cover model!).
Equipment needed for “30DBA”
Happily, “30 Day Breakaway” requires far less equipment than many other programs, and all of the items can be purchased through inexpensive knockoffs online instead of buying directly through Beachbody. In the explanations below, some links are affiliates which provide a small commission upon purchase, at no extra cost to you.
I. Resistance loops
You will use more of the lighter resistance loops for “30 Day Breakaway” than other programs. I have the set at this link, and used mostly the yellow since arm moves are tough with heavier, and the leg moves need longer stretching bands.
II. Assorted Dumbbells
I mostly used 10 pound weights, though for some moves used 15 and 20. I don’t own lighter weights, but for some moves you’d likely want them. I do NOT recommend adjustable dumbbells for this program, since most don’t allow swinging or putting your bodyweight on them — two things that some moves in “30DBA” require.
III. Phone holder for running
If you are doing your runs on a treadmill you can disregard this, but for those attempting even a few workouts outside, a phone holder for running is essential. Some people prefer arm bands, and some (me) like belt styles better. Make sure it’s big enough for your model of phone (and whatever else you want to carry, like keys), and close enough to the body so it doesn’t bounce up and down!
IV. Foam Roller and Squishy mat
For the many repeated foam rolling videos, you’ll need a foam roller. For kneeling and core moves, you’ll want a cushioned foam mat like this one to cushion your bony bones. For knobby knees like mine, doubling the mat or adding a pillow was essential. Idalis has a lot of kneeling stretches and exercises.
V. Optional: Push-up stands
There are a decent amount of pushups and planks in “30 Day Breakaway,” so you may want push-up stands like this to ease wrist pain. I love mine, and use them for super light weights when needed, too!
VI. Workout gear like Compression socks
Since being diagnosed with varicose veins (thank youuuu, double pregnancy), I’m rabid about wearing stylish (seriously!) compression socks like this to keep my legs healthy and supported. I wish I’d started doing it years ago!
Speaking of workout gear, how amazing are these leggings??? They are from my friend Rebecca’s company, Princess Awesome! In addition to the dinosaurs and 20-sided dice, did you catch that the white pants are DNA?! The red shirt is from my friend Sarah’s small biz, Leota (all three of us are Brown University grads — woo hoo!), and the top pictured below is from another great woman-owned business: the one that makes armor leggings…
Can “30 Day Breakaway” Be Done on an Elliptical Instead of Treadmill?
YES, though “30DBA” talks only about outdoor or treadmill running, the running workouts actually works really well on an elliptical machine, too! How do I know this? Because I injured myself partway through the program (more on this later) and had to transition to the low-impact of an “ellip,” as we cool kids call it, for some workouts. On that machine, I still got an excellent workout and got my heart rate up for that cardio conditioning — plus my joints felt a lot better without the pavement pounding.
Doing “30DBA” on a Trampoline
Wait, what?! A trampoline?! Yes, because I have an indoor mini trampoline for adults, I actually tested one of the “30 Day Breakaway” running workouts on it one of the days I was nursing my injury and wanted something more low-impact — and it was awesome!
Just jog or run in place, making sure to drive knees upward. I added some side to side bounces and even up and down jumping to mix it up during the rest time so my feet didn’t get numb. You don’t get the same experience with the exact “running” form, but it does the trick to get your heart pumping and fitness level growing.
“30 Day Breakaway” Results
A. Ability to Run a 5k!
Despite being a fitness fanatic, I’ve never before run a timed 5k — and have very little experience in running in general — but I was able to complete the race by the end of “30DBA,” and do it under my goal of 30 minutes! (The local high school outdoor track proved the perfect spot to run the 3.1 miles: approximately 12 laps around the 400 meters, depending on your lane.)
“30 Day Breakaway” really works to get you in cardiovascular shape! Did it turn me into a lifelong runner? Honestly, running still hurts my body (I’m just not built for it), so I’ll stick with other forms of cardio moving forward, though I may throw in a run sometimes, now that I understand the technique better. That said, through “30DBA” I was indeed able to unlock a part of myself that I didn’t know was there, and do a feat I didn’t think possible for myself: a sub-30-minute 5k!
B. Improved Cardio Fitness
Not only was I able to complete the 5k at a good speed by my standards, but at the end, I quickly recovered my breath and actually felt like I could keep working out afterwards! This was NEVER the case for my running life before “30 Day Breakaway.” Clearly, the cardiovascular benefits of the interval training pay off.
C. Overall Weight Loss and Slimming
“30 Day Breakaway” is an excellent program for overall “getting in shape” rather than sculpting “cut, shredded muscles.” You will slim down with the combination of running and resistance training, though it is important to note that super visible results usually take longer than 1 month of any program (though you will notice SOME changes in 30 days), so consider multiple rounds of this program, or following it with others, if you’re really looking for full body transformation.
Avoiding Injury with “30DBA”
I say that “30 Day Breakaway” is for all fitness levels because it’s so full of modifications, but I do have to elaborate on the fact that I’m a very experienced athlete and still injured myself during it. Here’s what happened when I hurt myself, with guidance on how YOU can avoid injury, yourself, during this program.
My fitness experience comes from weightlifting and indoor HIIT workouts (oh, and movement breaks) — not from running. In fact, I haven’t even jogged in over a decade. This means that the action of running was very new for my body, and some of the strength needed for it wasn’t as developed as I cockily thought.
What caused me to injure my Achilles Tendon in Week 2 was that I didn’t properly warm up before starting the running workout, and I did the run on a road which was inclined upwards, meaning my full bodyweight stressed the ankle tendons as I tried to land mid-foot instead of on my heel. My husband the runner also thinks I wasn’t wearing quality enough running shoes.
The lesson: Always remember to warm up, and ease into new moves slowly and with proper equipment and form, no matter your previous fitness experience. If you feel an injury coming on, modify to switch to low-impact work (ex: elliptical), and/or take extra rest days.
In Sum: Who is “30 Day Breakaway” Good For?
You should consider “30DBA” if:
- You want to learn to run, and are motivated to complete a 5k.
- Nature makes you happy!
- The option for less screen time is intriguing (via audio runs).
- A kind and warm trainer motivates you.
- You’re disciplined to remember the warm-up and cool-down, even though they’re separate videos.
- You’re organized enough to pick one of the three calendars and stick with it, keeping track of correct video order.
- Your goal is more overall weight loss or cardio fitness, versus “cut, shredded” muscle.
- You’re ok with a less full-body program, or are able to add in extra ab work yourself.
Steer clear of “30DBA” if:
- Your interest is weightlifting. (The strength of this program is the running workouts, not the resistance ones.)
- You hate running, and nothing will ever change that. (Some of us are not built for that kind of pounding, and that’s ok!)
- “Tough love,” harsher trainers motivate you most.
- You crave a cast of more than one person.
- You want really advanced, heart-pounding resistance workouts. (This is truly an “Intermediate” program for the indoor parts.)
- Your fitness goal is cut, shredded muscle definition.
Is This Intermediate 5k Training Plan for YOU?
So what do you think? Does “30 Day Breakaway” sound like a good fit for YOUR workout goals and style? If so, why or why not? (Feel free to check out my other geeky reviews of the best Beachbody workout programs here.) If you’ve already tried the program, what did you think of it? Do share!
The author, Lillie Marshall, is 6-foot-tall National Board Certified Teacher of English, fitness fan, and mother of two who has been a public school educator since 2003. She launched Around the World “L” Travel and Life Blog in 2009, and over 3.7 million readers have now visited this site. Lillie also runs TeachingTraveling.com and DrawingsOf.com. Subscribe to her monthly newsletter, and follow @WorldLillie on social media!