In the course of writing about running and training, I have mentioned building a running base many times. I guess I took it for granted that my readers would know what the heck I was talking about, so I was surprised not too long ago when I received a comment asking exactly what I meant by a running base.
Building a Running Base
I figured if one person asked, many more want to know the answer too, so today we’re going to talk about what exactly is a running base, why it’s so important to build one, and how you should go about doing it.
What is a Running Base?
A proper and effective training program is built upon the principle of periodization. In a nutshell, since that is not our topic today, periodization means cycling your training. You should not be running hard and long all the time.
Instead, when you periodize a training program you break it into specific and functional parts, each building upon the other until you reach the peak, your target race. The race is followed by a period of recovery, then the process starts all over again. Again, a very simplified explanation.
Base building is the foundation for all subsequent periods of your training. It is done at the beginning of the training cycle, even before the official training begins. Building your running base is preparing your body, your muscles, tendons, ligaments, for the upcoming training.
Building a running base is important for both beginners and advanced runners. Expect to spend six to nine weeks in this base building period, or as long as it takes to reach the mileage at which your training plan begins.
Why is a Running Base So Important?
Just think for a moment of a training plan, especially for longer distances like a marathon or half marathon. It begins with a certain amount of mileage and effort. If you were to jump directly into that plan, there is a very good chance that you either wouldn’t be able to complete the workouts or would end up injured!
Think of your running base as the platform on which all of your training is built. A strong base will serve you well as you begin your race training program.
How to Build a Running Base
While not all running during base building needs to be of the long and slow variety, expect to start putting some easy miles in, especially if you’re a beginner. Depending upon your goals, experience, and starting point, the six to nine weeks of building your running base will consist of gradually increasing your mileage at a mostly easy pace.
More experienced runners can add in some tempo, hill training, or fartlek intervals, all of which serve to adapt your body for the training ahead. This is not the time for 400 repeats on the track.
Instead think of hilly runs, two to four-minute “pickups,” or slightly longer tempo intervals at marathon or half marathon pace, where the goal is to lay the groundwork for your upcoming training. Avoid timing these sessions, which might encourage you to push too hard, and instead, rely on how the effort feels.
Sample Base Building for Beginners
This two-week plan can be modified to your experience and goals. If you are currently only running a few miles at a time, that is your starting point. Build your mileage gradually from there.
Day 1: Run, easy pace, 25-45 minutes.
Day 2: Rest or cross-train
Day 3: Hill Workout: Find a route with rolling hills and run for 30-40 minutes, or, following a 10-minute warm-up run, do 5 sets of repeats on a 100m hill with about 8-10% grade. Finish with another easy 10 minutes.
Day 4: Run, moderate pace, 20-40 minutes.
Day 5: Rest or cross-train.
Day 6: Run, easy pace, 45-60 minutes.
Day 7 Rest
Day 8: Run, easy pace, 25-45 minutes
Day 9: Rest or cross-train.
Day 10: Tempo Workout: Run at an easy pace for 10 minutes. Run for 5 minutes at half marathon pace (if you don’t know this, run at a moderately hard, but doable pace). Run easy for 5 minutes. Repeat. Run easy for 10 minutes.
Day 11: Run, easy pace, 25-45 minutes.
Day 12: Rest or cross-train.
Day 13: Run, easy pace, 50-75 minutes.
Day 14: Rest
Sample Base Building for Intermediates
This two-week plan can be modified to your experience and goals. If you are starting a new cycle after recovering for a race, cut back from where you were at the end of the last training cycle.
Day 1: Run, easy pace, 45-75 minutes.
Day 2: Fartlek pickups. Run easy for 10 minutes. Do a three or four-minute interval at 10k to 15k pace. Recover at an easy pace for the same amount of time. Do four or five of these intervals. Finish with about 10 minutes at an easy pace.
Day 3: Rest, cross-train or run short and easy.
Day 4: Hill Workout: Find a route with rolling hills and run for 40-60 minutes, or, following a 10-minute warm-up run, do 6-8 sets of repeats on a 100m hill with about 8-10% grade. Finish with another 10 easy minutes.
Day 5: Rest, cross-train or run short and easy.
Day 6: Run, easy pace, 60-90 minutes.
Day 7 Rest
Day 8: Run, moderate pace, 30-45 minutes
Day 9: Rest, cross-train or run short and easy.
Day 10: Tempo Workout: Run at an easy pace for 10-15 minutes. Run for 15 minutes at half marathon pace. Run easy for 10 minutes.
Day 11: Run, easy pace, 40-60 minutes.
Day 12: Rest, cross-train or run short and easy.
Day 13: Run, easy pace, 70-100 minutes.
Day 14: Rest
Both of these schedules are examples. You should start building your running base according to your current training and experience. I am a running coach, but I’m not your running coach, so make sure that you are healthy and check with your physician before starting any exercise program.
Do you take the time to build your base at the beginning of each training cycle?
And Now It’s Time For the Running Coaches’ Corner!
My weekly linkups! Please stop by and check out all of the great recipes, workouts, and information that all these awesome bloggers share every week!
Meatless Monday with Sarah and Deborah
Meatless Monday with Annmarie and Dixya
Tuesdays on the Run with Marcia, Erika, and Patty
Inspire Me Monday with Janice
Wild Workout Wednesday with Annmarie, Michelle, Jen, and Nicole
The Plant-Based Potluck Party with Deborah
The Running Coaches’ Corner with Rachel, Suz, Lora Marie, and Me!
Giveaway Roundup and Try Out Thursdays with Smitha
The Blogger’s Pit Stop with Kathleen, Janice, Julie, and Menaka
Friday 5 2.0 with Rachel and Lacey and Meranda
Sunday Fitness and Food with Angela and Ilka