Updated: July 24, 2020
Whether you’re toying with the idea of running a marathon someday, or are simply getting started running, base training is a key component of every runner’s training schedule.
What is running base building?
Many runners mistakenly assume that base training involves running very low mileage with the goal to simply keep running. A common misconception is that building a training base requires low effort and easy runs completed consistently.
Related: How to Build a Solid Running Base
While consistency certainly plays a key role in building an aerobic base for running, most successful base training plans are anything but laid back.
Following a running base building plan is an excellent precursor to achieving any running goal. Building a solid running foundation is the best way to set yourself up to accomplish your biggest goals.
Running base training is essential for every runner.
If you have taken a break from running, whether it be just a month or multiple years off, finding a base building training plan is a great way to begin your return to the sport.
Establishing a foundational base mileage will help you avoid injuries, develop a strong aerobic base, and maintain strength as you transition to more formal training.
A popular method of running base building comes from Arthur Lydiard.
Arthur Lydiard, a former New Zealand running coach, became popular in the 1960s as his athletes started to win more and more Olympic medals over a short period of time. Much of his training philosophy is still popular today – especially his belief in the importance of base training for runners.
According to Lydiard, base training serves to build an aerobic base for running. In its first phase, base building helps improve a runner’s aerobic capacity.
This period of 10-12 weeks helps increase various components of your running performance – everything from the strength of your muscles to the communication with the nervous system.
Lydiard base training serves as the foundation for many runners today.
How do you build an aerobic base?
Whether you are returning after a break from running or are just getting started for the first time, base training will help you gradually increase your mileage and fitness without getting injured.
Following a running base building training plan will help you build an aerobic base to set yourself up to run longer distances, hit a PR, and stay in peak shape.
As you begin base training, you’ll want to start small. Find a distance that you can comfortably run and begin by repeating that distance multiple times.
Increase your base running distance slowly.
Running base building is a gradual process. In general, you’ll want to increase your long run by about 1 mile every one or two weeks. Once you’ve started building your running base, you can add 1 or 2 more runs a week every couple of months. Gradually add 1-3 miles to week day runs every few weeks.
After the initial mileage building phase of base training (about the first 4 weeks), it’s time to throw in some periods of higher intensity. Begin incorporate short, intense efforts, such as fartleks, hill sprints, strides and more.
Download the free Running Base Building Training Plan to get started!
Advantages of running base building
When we set big goals for ourselves, we often want to do something drastic right away to make progress towards achieving them.
Running base training forces us to start small, build gradually and really spend time creating a foundation. While these training strategies might not sound the too appealing amidst the excitement of committing to a new goal – they certainly pay off in the long run.
Following a base building running creates a strong foundation.
Running base training has also been shown to increase the body’s ability to deliver oxygen, encourage optimal communication between the brain and nervous system, and enhance capillary capacity.
Your body will eventually adapt to the mileage, requiring very little energy and reaching a high level of efficiency. In addition, you’ll gain a hefty amount of mental strength.
Download the free Base Building Training Plan to get started!
Misconceptions about base training
Many runners, both beginners and seasoned alike, mistakenly assume that building a training base means running a lot of slow, easy miles. They set out to run the same speed over and over again each week, only to discover that their fitness remains the same.
In order to create a successful running base, you’ll need to mix things up during base training. Spend the first two to four weeks running easy miles, and then begin to add some variety.
Another common misconception about running base building is that it only takes a few weeks. Most runners are surprised to find that building an aerobic base can take quite some time – usually around 8 to 12 weeks.
Base building is often a frustrating time for runners. Beginner runners often struggle to feel like they’re making progress when only running a few miles a week. Seasoned runners might find it tempting to increase mileage or ramp up the intensity too quickly.
Tips for running base training
Building a running base is all about increasing your aerobic fitness slowly and methodically. As many runners quickly find out, building a training base is a process that takes time. It’s impossible to jump from 1 mile to 12 overnight, no matter how long or far you used to run.
Here are a few base building tips for runners.
- Start out small.
- Repeat the same distance before increasing.
- Increase distance in small increments.
- Don’t increase distance until you are comfortable where you are.
- Mix up your schedule with other workouts.
- Speed up the process by completing other forms of cardio.
- Give yourself plenty of time.
- Understand that you can’t gain fitness overnight.
- Find a way to record your progress.
- Increase frequency before distance.
- Plan far in advance.
- Take a break when you need to.
- Don’t be afraid to walk.
- Focus on consistency and small efforts repeated over time.
Base training requires more patience and perseverance than nearly any other phase of running. However, taking the time to building a running base – or just continue with maintenance running in the off season – help prevent injury and set you up for a strong season of running.
When to use a base training plan
Following a structured plan while building a running base provides beneficial structure for runners of all ability levels. Most importantly, it helps avoid the temptation of doing too much too soon.
So when should you use a running base building plan?
This 12 week base building training plan is adaptable for beginner and seasoned runners alike. Here are some examples of a few times you may wish to follow it during training.
- If you’re returning to running after more than a month off.
- If you’re planning to run a distance race (half marathon or full marathon) more than 6 months in the future.
- If you aren’t training for a race but want to maintain an aerobic running base during the off season.
- If you’re a beginner runner and want to safely build up your mileage.
Using a base building running plan is an excellent way to set yourself up for success. Taking the time to establish a running base will not only help you prevent injuries, but it helps avoid overtraining, burnout, and provides beneficial structure when increasing mileage.
Base training requires planning, preparation and dedication. If you’ve got time and want to nail your running goals in the future, base building is a really effective way to do so.
Try this 12 week base building training plan.
>>Download the Base Building Training Plan HERE for free!<<
This base training running plan contains 3 runs each week, beginning with very low mileage and gradually increasing as your fitness improves.
Each running day is followed by a cross training or rest day to avoid burnout. Included, you’ll also find 12 cross training workouts to help you build a strong training base and start or get back to running quickly.
Base training and maintenance running are essential for every runner. It’s important to take breaks throughout the year to avoid burnout and injury. Whether you’re just getting started, want to create a foundation to achieve some lofty goals in the future, or are hoping to safely return after a break – base building will set you up for success.