The Build up phase or Base Training as it is called is the most essential aspect of all long distance running, not just marathon training. You could build an entire training program centered around 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 more extended periods.
This system has been proven to work 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 overtime time see faster rates of improvement.
What is your base?
Over time, Running causes the body to adapt and change. Most people focus on the muscle in the legs when in fact, changes occur throughout the body. Some of which has more of an impact on your ability then the muscles themselves. Most of the changes are hidden from view. For example, Elite runners have hearts that have grown and strengthened to a point where they take little effort to deliver the required oxygen while at rest. This is one area that can be measured. Using the resting pulse rate as an example, The average resting Heart rate for a good portion of normal healthy adults is around 65-85 Beats per minute. While an Elite runner may be well under 40 BPM, with some approaching 30 BPMs.
Simultaneously their ability to process oxygen is substantially higher compared to Non-athletes. In addition Elites have larger capillary bed systems that help deliver all that oxygen to hard to reach areas of the body, and an increase of mitochondria density, which adds the availability of much-needed energy.
SO HERE IS THE NUMBER ONE SECRET OF RUNNING...
One doesn’t need to run hard to increase this foundation.
No pain no gain right? Wrong! By getting out consistently, Both the body and mind adapts and will embrace the new workload. This doesn’t matter if it is 25 miles a week or 100 miles a week. So your Base is the level of running which your body can process oxygen and deliver the required energy with relatively minimal effort. Workouts are not ponderous and hard. There should not be soreness the next day and other than the long run one should not have to need an hour or two to recover. For some, this maxes out around 3-6 miles day. Serious runners may be able to get 7-10 miles without any soreness and minimal recovery. Elite runners have no problem doing back to back workouts in a day totaling 15 miles. But it does take a few years to work up to a higher level safely.
This may not happen in the first season of running. It takes awhile to get the body to adapt and adjust.
The role of Base training
So the goal is to take your existing base and add to it.
It is crucial to understand this role of Base Training fully. Many people have strong running backgrounds, and they assume they are in good condition and would instead jump directly into the advanced workouts with higher intensity thinking they will see more benefits.
Many runners have year-long workout systems where the continuously mix Tempo/speed/strengths and the Long run altogether.
It is best not to do this!
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. In fact, it is counterproductive. Running is like building a house; a strong foundation is critical. However, once the home is completed, if you want to add more rooms, you must broaden the foundation. There are too 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 wrong path to follow, and it will lead either to burnout, stagnation or injuries.
How Base Training works
With every new training season, you should add more miles and/or more days to your training schedule. Over time the body will change and adapt 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. The volume of total available oxygen is essential, But there is a greater importance to be able to absorb and process the oxygen in a state of semi-distress. This is where relaxation comes in, which can take a lot of miles on the road to master.
The next part of the equation is to be able to deliver it to the areas where it is needed. Increasing mileage helps to expand the capillary system in the areas that are being used continuously. This, in turn, allows the cells, specifically the mitochondria within those cells to access the increased levels of oxygen. The increase in mileage also increases Mitochondria density. Both occur in tandem to improve functionality at a higher level with the lower overall effort. This is the underlying reason why one doesn’t need to run hard all the time to see improvement! A more moderate 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 large capillary systems from high mileage do not have to work as hard to cool themselves down. This is because in effect their body acts similar to a car radiator where the moving air over the body helps to cool the body; thus less energy is used.
This Base Training program is very simple. At the beginning of the season, the body and the mind need a recovery period from the workout session and hopefully the big race of the previous season. In the first few weeks, the mileage should be cut back well below the workout training sessions. Some will cut back as much as 50-75%. As the weeks go by more mileage is slowly added. Usually about 75% of the way into the Base training Session the mileage is back up the the previous Season. Before the workout session begins the target mileage should be anywhere from 10-30% higher than the previous season, depending on your capabilities and goals.
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.http://howtorunamarathon.net/base-training-charts-update/
Key to successful running
Add Mileage only to Base training Phase. Not the workout phase!
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. The next piece of the puzzle is when to add the mileage. By adding the mileage mainly in the Base training phase, the body will easily adapt to this new workload. This allows stronger hard sessions in the workout training phase.
It cannot emphasize enough how you should not push yourself too hard during this phase. If it takes more than 30 minutes to recover from your easy workouts, then then the run was too hard. Even if you are in Olympic shape, your emphasis should be placed on running relaxed for the majority of your runs!
Remember the 80/20 ratio. Eighty percent of your runs are at the easy pace.
Check out the Magic Running Formula on how to determine if you are running to hard.
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, a four-hour marathoner can knock 24 minutes off their time with out running nay harder just by running more efficient!
Run Smart Not hard!!!
Wait!, Didn’t you just say over and over to run easy?
Well the answer to that is yes. But there are times, even in Base training to buckle down and do some serious work.
This is not a scale-able for the different levels of runners. So we address this separately in the Base Training for under 3, 4 ,5 and over 5 hours plus some added tips for each level of runner. (See side Menu)