We hear about base training all the time, but what exactly is it? If I’ve been running for over 20 years, doesn’t that count as enough base? Does my last training cycle count as base? I have the endurance, can’t I just get on with my training?
The Base Phase is building the running foundation of your training program. During this time you are teaching your body how to use oxygen efficiently & prepping your muscles for the grueling work that will come in the weeks ahead. This means that Base Training is a lot of steady miles, slowly and gradually laying the ground work. If you’ve recently come off a training cycle, focusing on Base before the next cycle is a great way to recover and keep fit. I’ve rolled off of one marathon right into a new training cycle, and while I had all the previous miles under my belt, I still made sure to get several weeks of long, easy miles in before hitting it hard again.
Personally, I find Base Training to be a lot like Tapering; slow, tedious, and kind of frustrating. I’m the type of runner that likes the speed work, the repeats, the testing of physical fitness. Taking it easy, going slow, plodding along to add up miles is just not my thing, which is why I’m taking a slightly different approach this time around.
Four out of five of my last marathons were run off the Garmin marathon plans (levels 1, 2, and 3). They were fantastic for me and I’ve had nothing but success with them. However, I have decided to use the Boston Athletic Association’s marathon plan for this Spring’s race. I have decided to switch because this is a Boston specific plan and it includes a Base Phase. This plan includes a three week Base Phase, making it a 20 week plan, opposed to a standard 16 week plan.
Now, I don’t need a plan to tell me what to do during the build up to marathon training, but it sure is nice. At first I found a 20 week plan rather daunting. 20 weeks sounded like such a long time to be preparing for a race. But, I realized that I’d be waiting out those 20 weeks whether I was following a plan or not, so, why not go for it. It is reassuring to be able to look at my workout laid out before me and not have to second guess what I’m doing, my pacing, or my mileage. I trust this plan, and while I’m not into the nitty gritty of actual marathon training just yet, I feel like I am more focused with my running.
If you are prepping for a Spring race, I highly recommend finding a training plan that includes Base training. Don’t be intimidated by the length of the plan and know that during the Base Phase it is okay to tweak and adjust (and rest) as needed. This is the easy part, so it should feel easy & fun! If you need help with a Base Training plan, shoot me a message and I can help you out and tell us your Spring goals in the comments below.