Pick Up The Base Base train­ing is your cor­ner­stone

Runner's World (UK) - - In This Issue -

Lay the groundwork now to run stronger all year. How? It’s all about that base WHETHER YOU’RE hop­ing to crush a time goal, lose weight or sim­ply en­joy a con­sis­tent run­ning rou­tine this year, you’ll ben­e­fit from de­vot­ing a month or two to base train­ing. This fo­cus on log­ging easy-ef­fort miles de­vel­ops a solid aer­o­bic foun­da­tion that you can then main­tain or build on (with tempo runs or speed­work). ‘Putting in those miles cre­ates changes in your body that go all the way down to the cel­lu­lar level,’ says run­ning coach and ex­er­cise phys­i­ol­o­gist Janet Hamilton. Dur­ing base train­ing, you en­large your heart cham­bers, build mi­to­chon­dria (your cells’ power sta­tions), strengthen ten­dons and other con­nec­tive tis­sues, and also ex­pand your glyco­gen-stor­age ca­pac­ity. Those in­vis­i­ble meta­mor­phoses make you bet­ter able to han­dle – and ben­e­fit from – more in­tense work­outs later on. ‘You’re train­ing to train,’ says run­ning coach Den­nis Barker.

A good base for a new run­ner might be 10 miles per week (in­clud­ing a three-mile ‘long’ run), while ex­pe­ri­enced run­ners tar­get­ing half marathons or longer should aim for 30 or more weekly miles. If you’re a racer, solid base fit­ness preps you for faster fin­ishes. Base-build­ing has men­tal ben­e­fits, too: ‘You’ll feel stronger, which ups your en­joy­ment of any run,’ says Hamilton. Here’s how to build your base – and how to strengthen an al­ready solid foun­da­tion. GET­TING STARTED All run­ners should build mileage grad­u­ally – never ex­ceed­ing 10 per cent in­creases from week to week – and should vary the length of their runs. Hamilton rec­om­mends one long run (30-40 per cent of to­tal weekly mileage), two medium runs (20 per cent) and one or two easy, short­mileage runs (10 per cent) per week. Rein in your pace and save high-in­ten­sity speed­work for later: even mod­er­atein­ten­sity runs should rep­re­sent no more than 10-15 per cent of your weekly mileage.

If your joints ache with the mere thought of run­ning four or five times each week, swap out your eas­i­est run (or runs, if you’re plan­ning five work­outs per week) for car­dio cross-train­ing. ‘It takes some stress off your legs while still build­ing aer­o­bic fit­ness,’ says 2008 Olympian Amy Yoder Be­g­ley, now a run­ning coach at the Univer­sity of Con­necti­cut, US. (See Cross-check be­low to learn how to fit cross-train­ing ses­sions around your runs.)

Be­g­ley rec­om­mends non-weight-bear­ing ex­er­cises such as cy­cling or aqua-jog­ging, which give your joints and mus­cles a break from run­ning’s im­pact forces while still chal­leng­ing your heart and lungs. In her train­ing pro­grammes, ev­ery 10 min­utes of car­dio cross-train­ing equals one run­ning mile. ‘But they

have to be qual­ity car­dio ses­sions; you can’t just be out for a stroll,’ says Be­g­ley. Cy­cling work­outs, for ex­am­ple, should use a fast ca­dence (above 90 ro­ta­tions per minute). Make sure you keep a mid­week long run, about 75 per cent of the length of your long­est run – so if you’re log­ging 15 miles at the weekend, your mid­week ‘long’ run should be 10 or 11 miles. ‘Your goal is quan­tity, not qual­ity, so don’t worry about pace,’ says Barker. But build in good re­cov­ery af­ter each longer run.


If you have al­ready been con­sis­tently log­ging solid mileage for months, there’s still room for you to shore up your base be­fore div­ing into more in­tense train­ing. You can try adding a mid­week longish run or run­ning dou­bles (that is, go­ing out twice in one day). Log­ging two longer runs each week builds your ca­pac­ity for dis­tance, which is es­pe­cially ben­e­fi­cial for run­ners tar­get­ing marathons later in the year. When work or fam­ily com­mit­ments pre­vent hours-long work­outs dur­ing the week, oc­ca­sional dou­bles can be an ef­fec­tive way to en­rich aer­o­bic ca­pa­bil­ity. Start by break­ing up a nor­mal mid-length easy run into two ses­sions: one in the morn­ing and another in the after­noon or evening. ‘Do no more than two dou­bles per week for the first two weeks,’ says Barker. If your body han­dles the ad­di­tional ses­sions with­out much com­plaint, try adding a mile or two to one or both of the ses­sions. Dou­bles are typ­i­cally the realm of ad­vanced run­ners, says Barker, so lis­ten to your body and back off if any­thing hurts.

BASE YOUR­SELF Put the work in now and hit your tar­gets through­out the year.

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