The Build up phase or Base Training as it is called, is the most important aspect of all running, not just marathon training. You could build an entire training program using only the methods in Base Training workouts and see better results than many other systems.

 By gradually building and broadening your Base, your strength and endurance will grow naturally over time. During the transition to the “workout phase” your body will be conditioned to work harder and for longer periods of time. In this system, we cycle Base Training and Workout Training over a period of 20-26 weeks. Ideally, after the 20-26 weeks and your big race, you will take a short break and start the process again. This approach allows your body to go through a building, strengthening and recovery period. This system works for runners at every level, including Elites. By incorporating this method into your training system, you will see fewer injuries in your running career, and you will experience faster rates of improvement.

It is important to understand the role of Base Training. Many people have strong running backgrounds and they assume assume they are in good condition and would rather jump directly into the advanced workouts. Some have year a year long workout system where the continuously mix Tempo/speed/strengths and the Long run all together.


Successful running is about building and expanding your foundation no matter if you are a long time runner or an Elite. It is unnecessary to run hard workouts all year long to be a better runner. In fact it is counter productive. Running is like building a house; a strong foundation is critical. However, once the house is completed, if you  want to add more rooms, you must broaden the foundation. Many experienced runners are in a constant workout training mode. They race year round, and they train hard for those races. Unfortunately, these runners reach a point where they see their improvements plateau. To compensate, these runners add more hard workouts or run even harder using their current regime. However, this is a bad path to follow, and it  will lead either to burnout, stagnation or injuries.

 This program is very simple. For the first ten weeks (14 weeks for those on a 6-month schedule), there is one long run per week. All other supporting runs will be at least half that distance. The goal is to build up the long easy runs and add mileage. In this stage, all runs will be at a nice, relaxed pace.

 For those who have never run, or for those who walk/run, we will forgo the long run for the first few weeks. Runners with strong running backgrounds, it is encouraged  to expand the number of runs per week. Runners who consider themselves serious about getting better, there is no reason not to run a minimum 6-7 workouts per week. Advance runner can throw in a few 2-a-day workouts.

 As noted, this method can be used for marathon training, but it can also be used for pre-season track, cross-country or road racking. Whether your goal is to compete or simply run comfortably for 5k or 10k, this is as a good  a place as any to start.

 For brand new runners who have decided that they will be running a marathon in short period of time (which, for the record, we do NOT endorse), then your entire program should consist of Base Training. For those who may have more than 24 weeks to train for the marathon, simply add additional weeks to your Base Training phase. For example, if you are 32 weeks out instead of 24 weeks, add another eight weeks of Base Training. (Important: Do not add any weeks to the “workout phase”. This concentrated set of exercises should not be done for an extended period with the excpetion of some advanced or elite runners who may extend it another week or two.

 Not to sound like a broken record , DO NOT SKIP BASE TRAINING AND GO STRAIGHT TO THE HARDER WORKOUTS. One may see some short term gains, but, with relation to the long term, one will never reach their true potential.

 Due to infinite variables like weight, running experience, and overall athletic ability, there isn’t a one-size-fits-all type of workout. Novice and beginners should focus on TIME as opposed to DISTANCE in their runs. For example, in the early stages of training the short run may last for 30 minutes. For some, that may be a four-mile run, and for others, two miles. Distance doesn’t matter, time does. However, based on feedback, most people prefer distance charts. I have included both time and mileage charts.

 The key to successful running is to keep adding to your “running bank.” It is a simple concept. The more you can add to the bank, the more benefits you will see down the line. With every new training season, you should add more miles and/or more days to your training schedule. Overtime the body will change with the added miles. At first the body builds the muscles it needs while at the same time the oxygen delivery system is increased. Many advance runners focus on what is called VO2 max. But VO2 max only plays a partial role. Outsiders to the sport like Apollo Ono and Lance Armstrong, who have some of the highest VO2 max readings found out just how hard a marathon is. It is one thing to be able to Absorb and process the oxygen. The next part of the equation is to be able to deliver it to the areas where it is needed. This is where the increase of mileage comes into play. Increasing mileage helps to expand the capillary system in the areas that are being constantly used.  This in turn allows the cells, specifically the mitochondria within those cells to access the increased levels of oxygen. Now they can function at a higher level with lower overall effort. Lower effort has another side benefit. It takes massive amounts of energy for the body to maintain it’s body temperature when a severe workload has been placed on it. Much of this is accomplished by sweating. Long distance runners with huge capillary systems from high mileage do not have to work as hard to cool themselves down. This is because  in effect the system acts similar to a car radiator where the moving air over the body helps to cool the body, thus  less energy is used.

 It cannot emphasize enough how you should not push yourself too hard during this phase. If it takes more than an hour to recover from your workout, then then the run was too hard. Even if you are in Olympic shape, your emphasis should be placed on running relaxed!

For those who wish to accelerate the rate of their improvement while doing runs that may not have as much excitement to them, I suggest going to the Running Efficiently Section.Many runners can improve their marathon time by 10% or greater just by running efficiently. For example, if a four-hour marathoner improved 10% after adopting these techniques, They would see an improvement of 24 minutes.

Run Smart Not hard!!!


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