It's All About the Base
Updated: Mar 8, 2021
Base building isn’t sexy. Some find it downright boring. However, those who build their base before beginning race specific training end up healthier and performing better when it counts.
Follow these tried and true training principles to build your aerobic and muscular base:
Gradually increase total weekly volume
Gradually increase duration/distance of long run
Gradually introduce intensity
Begin strength training in the base phase
Focus on gradually increasing volume (time and distance) as the year progresses. Limit weekly increases to 10 percent. If you want to add more do it through cross training.
Long Run Duration/Distance
During the base phase, the LONG RUN should take priority and should make up 20 to 25 percent of the total weekly volume.
Gradually Introduce Intensity
CUT DOWN RUNS
CUT DOWN RUNS start at a comfortable effort/pace and gradually increase the effort throughout the run so that the last quarter to third of the run are at a solid effort. Make one or two runs per week CUT DOWN RUNS and gradually increase the duration of the hard effort.
STRIDES are short bursts of speed between 15 and 40 seconds in the middle or end of an EASY or LONG RUN that prime your body for future intense efforts. Strides provide time to focus on efficient running form under duress. After a couple of weeks of EASY running, add 3-4 x 20 to 30 second strides after one EASY RUN per week. Over time, add more repetitions and another day of STRIDES.
Add STRIDES to EASY & LONG RUNS to introduce intensity. Photo by Peter Collins.
FARTLEKS are longer than strides, lasting between 1 and 8 minutes, and are an effective way of introducing intensity before obsessing about pace. After a few weeks of EASY running with one CUT DOWN RUN and one EASY RUN with STRIDES per week add a FARTLEK workout:
WARM UP: 15 to 30 minute EASY run
FARTLEK: 5 x (1 minute @ 5K EFFORT) + 1 minute EASY RECOVERY run after each FARTLEK
COOL DOWN: 15 to 30 minute EASY run
Mix things up by modifying the number, duration, undulation and intensity of the FARTLEK intervals.
Focus on Form. Run tall. Drive your arms - leading with the elbows. Photo by Peter Collins.
Run EASY on undulating terrain two to three times per week. After a few weeks, begin SURGING up and down the hills. After you get comfortable running easy on hills you can add HILL REPEATS. HILLS will increase muscular STRENGTH and improve FORM and posture which will ultimately help you run more efficiently on all surfaces.
Muscular STRENGTH takes time to develop. To prepare for the demands of race specific running, STRENGTH TRAINING should begin well before introducing formal SPEED training. Begin with a CORE and BODY WEIGHT routine two to four times per week. Add RESISTANCE as needed (once you have the form down). Start with the Do Anywhere Body Weight Routine.
Step ups. Photo by Peter Collins.
Limit Race Specific Training & Racing
Strategically build your base until you are eight to twelve weeks away from your goal race. If you plan to do multiple races in a season, use the first few races as tune-up races and workouts. For more information on how to map out your training and racing, please read "RACE STRATEGICALLY."
Jacob Puzey is a multiple time national champion and world record holder who helps runners from all over the world, of all ages, abilities, and ambitions to achieve their goals on a variety of distances and surfaces via Peak Run Performance.