Friday Cardio Day: Non-impact, Running, Swimming Ideas

Civil Affairs candidates go on an early morning run.
Civil Affairs candidates assigned to the U.S. Army John F. Kennedy Special Warfare Center and School run down a trail during an early morning physical fitness test at Camp Mackall, North Carolina, Feb. 24, 2021. (K. Kassens/U.S. Army photo)

If you are finding your normal running time in the morning is getting darker each day, it is that time of year to wear a light on your head or pursue other types of cardio activity. Here is a way you can do both while it is still not too dark. It, at least, should last you until we roll the clocks back to end daylight savings time.

Spend about 15-20 minutes on non-impact cardio options to loosen up. Or if you are limited to a treadmill, start your run/warmup on the treadmill before you hit your normal run. This will get you outside about 15-20 minutes later, so the predawn light will be helpful for seeing where you are going if you prefer to train outside.

Warmup with non-impact cardio:

Five-minute bike or elliptical or rower warmup.

Five-minute Tabata interval (20 sec sprint / 10 sec easy) on bike

Repeat on rower or elliptical if available.

Total 15-20 minutes of using different machines for 2-3 sets of Tabata five-minute intervals.

Then go for a run. The distance is up to you. Our morning run today was four miles.

Then we followed it up with a big swim workout (indoor pool).

Add a swim workout if you are training for something (event/military/special ops) or skip all the above and just swim if you have a pool available.

Swim 500-meter warmup

Repeat 10 times.

  • 100-meter free at 6-8 strokes per breath.
  • 50-meter CSS at goal pace (or breaststroke).

Stew Smith is a former Navy SEAL and fitness author certified as a Strength and Conditioning Specialist (CSCS) with the National Strength and Conditioning Association. Visit his Fitness eBook store if you're looking to start a workout program to create a healthy lifestyle. Send your fitness questions to

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