“I’m just building my base right now.” How many times have you heard this, or maybe you’ve been the one saying it? Probably countless times.
Runners who are consistent are constantly building a ‘base’; yes those who log more miles per week are probably building a bigger one, though not always. There is something to be argued in the way if one runner is running a high volume but doing only easy runs as not being as ‘fit’ as another runner who could be doing less miles but hitting a higher quality load with weekly workouts. But that’s getting a bit off topic.
Building a base is usually the term runners use for between season training. (Or if they are getting back after a long running hiatus) Here the focus is to set a strong cardiovascular foundation by upping the miles. Then, when the season’s ‘real’ training begins they will overlay this foundation with the faster workouts, intervals, and speed. It’s a sound theory and what I’d recommend; you shouldn’t be nailing 400 repeats in January if you’re not going to be racing until the outdoor track season.
Runners DO need a high aerobic capacity as you draw off of that, and the metaphor of laying a foundation and laying the speedwork on top of that works well. We’ll think of that base as the cake and the 400’s can be your icing…yum.
But when you’re doing that base building you don’t want to completely neglect those faster twitch muscle fibers completely. If all you do for months and months are slow miles, come time to hit the track and even tempo work you’re going to feel like one rusty nail! You still want your muscles to have recent memories of what it feels like to run quick; so, even during these ‘base building’ times you want to give them reminders. Don’t completely lose touch with a faster tempo.
So while you’re upping the miles (and do this safely people, we know we don’t go from doing 20 miles one week to 40 the next) still play around with various speeds. Don’t get stuck in the ‘easy/slow’ mode. One day do a tempo run; since it’s so early don’t stress about the times but go for effort and it shouldn’t be all-out. Base building puts a lot of focus on the long run; every couple of weeks push the middle miles of that or make it into a fartlek run. Then, pick two days (not after a tempo or harder long run) and finish with some strides. Again, they don’t have to be the kind where you spike up and hammer it, but get that turnover going.
Have fun with the off season because here structure isn’t all that important…run some fartleks that don’t have set parameters and you could even make them up on the fly. Run hard because it feels good, recover for a bit, and then do it again. Play around with it and to sound like a cliche have fun. That’s why we do this running thing after all, right?
So build that cake ‘base’ but even during the off-season don’t forget to add a little bit of icing as well…I mean no one wants a cake without any icing, that’s the best part!
Even if you’re not doing any kind of traditional racing seasons (cross country/track) try mixing up those runs if you’re not doing much outside of easy running. The thing is that the body is a master at adapting and go too long with running one speed and you’ll get stuck in a rut.
1) When you think of base building, what comes to mind?
2) Do you play around with your long runs, or typically do them all as relaxed runs?
3) For workouts, do you have them pre-planned or come up with them on the fly?
4) Haven’t asked this before but do you count your weekly mileage? Where do you like to keep the weekly totals?