All throughout the year our athletes hear us preach about keeping up with their base runs. Once their race has concluded and recovery has passed (roughly 1-2 weeks active recovery), it is time to resume your base runs and resume your training, even if you don't have a goal race in mind.
But why are these base runs so important? And why do we stress getting these in all year round?
Think of a base run as your running foundation. These runs are part of any distance training plan found from the 5k to the ultra marathon distance. They are especially important for beginners because if you think about building a foundation, a beginner will have accumulated less overall lifetime volume than a seasoned runner. If you are new to running, it is important to build a strong aerobic base before you start adding speedwork or other more intense workouts to your training.
How to perform a base run?
A base run is a consistent daily run that lasts from 30 minutes to 60 minutes at your perceived relaxed pace (conversational pace, meaning that you should be able to talk in complete sentences without gasping for breath). The distance of your base runs will vary depending on your fitness level and goals. If you are just beginning your running journey, you may start with 3 mile base runs and gradually increase the distance as you get stronger. Just like your long run, try to increase your base runs 10% about every 2-3 weeks.
How long does it take to build your base?
It takes about 5-6 weeks to build a proper base before you start to enter your training phases for an endurance event. Take a moment to think about what a training plan will look like. It begins with a certain amount of mileage and effort. If you jump directly into that plan, there is a very good chance that you either won't be able to complete the workouts or even end up on the injured list. Developing a base will strengthen your musculoskeletal durability. Far too often runners cannot take the demand on their bodies while training for long distances. Running a consistent, easy base daily will help your body adapt. Your legs will grow stronger so you can better handle speed work, long runs, and overall total duration volume, as well as handle any accumulated fatigue in future training.
Running a consistent base will help your body build aerobic efficiency. When you first begin running, your body responds by increasing the number of red blood cells and increasing capillaries in your muscles. The more red blood cells and capillaries you have, the easier it is to transport oxygen throughout your body, the more your body can respond to exercise.
Why do I continue base runs after my goal race?
Imagine you finish your race and then you take the next few months off. All of the foundation that you built up has diminished. When you choose to return to training again, you now have to build your base from the beginning. If you had kept up with your runs, you would most likely return at a place ahead of where you last began and be able to go into your speed, endurance, and harder efforts sooner. This is where you start gradually become a stronger, faster, and more efficient runner over time. When you think about putting in the consistent work year over year that is when you start to see huge gains in your running.