Base Training

Have been reading some of the messages about base training in the forums and it is something that I want to start using. My training has been a bit haphazard and I need to get back to basics. Base training sounds like something I can build from (no pun intended)
Looking for a few pointers in terms of
what kind of schedule should I use.
I have just come back to running again over the last five weeks or so and done
my first race in over a year last week.
A 10K in 1hr 19secs.
Looking to improve from there.

Any help would be apreciated.

Thanks Kenneth


  • Hi Kenneth

    Have a look at the following sites for some info on base training.

    Site 1: Hadd's approach to distance training

    Site 2: Arthur Lydiard's Clinic.

    Hope this helps

  • Good links from MK, but perhaps a bit advanced for you now...

    Looking at your time for 10K, I would suggest an increase in mileage is your best bet. To achieve that with the minimum injury risk, keep the pace slow and comfortable.

    I think that 1hr a day is a good base target to work up to if you are trying to run good times. This may take some time. All increases should be very gradual and if you are not used to daily running then start with less per day than you think you can manage. And always ease back as soon as you feel and discomfort at all.

    If your are aiming lower then adapt it to run as many days a week as you can manage and perhaps shorter runs, say, 40min 5 days a week. But 1hr a day is best.

    From there you can start to add long runs and faster pace efforts (stay aerobic though).

    But looking at the 10K time, this will take a long time to acheive and will require much patience.
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭

    Is an hour every day really necessary, or can base building be done effectively on less? I realise that to maximise results from a system of training requires a certain amount of dedication and commitment, but I would find it impossible with the other things I have to fit into my life to dedicate an hour every day to running.

    Should base training be based on time on feet rather than distance? Obviously if we're talking running at a slower pace then the amount of distance covered in a hour is going to be less than if running at a quicker pace. But I find it easier to base my training on mileage rather than time.

    And how quickly should one increase mileage? If, for example, I'm currently doing one run of 30 mins, 1 run of 45 minutes, 1 run of 20-ish minutes and 1 run of about 1.5 hours a week, how gradually should I increase the shorter runs to an hour? And when I'm there, should I add another run of an hour or do that before?
  • An hour is ideal assuming that a person wants to maximise their potential - of course if you are happy to perform less well or do not have the time to commit further down the road it can be adapted.

    I do think that daily running is ideal too - injuries tend to creep up on you rather than suddenly pounce out from nowhere. Plus with this type of training, if you run at a steady pace, you won't need a recovery day.

    Definitely time over distance. An 1hr at a certin effort is teh same for all of us no matter how fast or slow we may be.

    I personally think that it is better to forget the long run while adapting to daily running and building up to the hour. If I were you I'd play safe and start at 20-25min. Take about 1 month or so to build up to 45min a day and then the same again to get to the hour. You could probably do it in less, and will certianly feel able to, but remember that it is teh muscles/body that will be under pressure not the heart and lungs.

    This is what might be defined as a base for base building! It gets you into shape so that you can build a base... So then spend three months adding a long run and some faster aerobic runs.

    If you have never trained this way before, take time to do the base for a base - it will prepare you for the mileage ahead.
  • Base training doesn't actually have to mean running, does it?
    I know that for Tri training you start your training season doing pretty much any general training (swimming, cycling, rowing, aerobics) then progress to more specific training later on.
    Its all about building a good cardiorespiratory system which simply requires consistent, chronic exposure to activity.

    I know that I couldn't run for an hour per day (as much as I would like to) because I would be crippled with injury within a few days. I do an average of an hour per day, however, when you add in the cycling and swimming that I do.
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Thanks Pantman, that's very helpful stuff. What sort of effort should I be starting at? (Either HR or pace per mile).

    And at what point should I start to increase the effort? I presume that this will be when running an hour or more causes no increase in HR or associated decrease in pace for the whole distance - then I up the HR slightly and begin the whole process again ... the point being that we're trying to increase lactate threshold, right?

    One thing bothers me - the fact that this type of training will train the body and muscles but will not train the heart and lungs. Does this mean that when I get to the point of adding speed once the 'base' is built that I'll find it that much tougher to run fast than I do at the moment? Just can't quite get my head around how these two 'components' of good running hang together ...
  • HillyHilly ✭✭✭
    According to the Lore of Running base building should take place for 6-12 months and then you do a block of sharpening your speed.
  • Mog - Nope all training should be specific even (or perhaps, especially) base training. One way in which the body adapts to base training is the proliferation of capilleries. The oxygen transfer is made efficient (or not) at the muscles themselves, not in the heart and lungs per se. They are not the limiting point, the muscles are - that's why training has to be specific. You MUST use the same muscles in the same range of motion.

    Minkin - I have used Mark Allen/Phil Maffetone's Fat Burning formula to get the correct HR for steady base building. Although faster aerobic effort will be needed in the base (and this is just a base for a base, remember!), this is the sort of pace that is needed now. Just remember that all formulae are guides - you may need to adapt a bit, but don't adjust more than 5bpm unless absoluletly sure. Link -

    Also, Minkin, this WILL train the heart and lungs. The lower end aerobic training will bring all the adaptions necessary - do not worry! There are plenty of elite runners doing most of their training slower than 7min/mile pace - guys who race 10K at sub 5min/mile pace!

    When you shift beyond the 1hr a day mark, you will then need to gradually increase HR but only up to 3 days a week - the bulk of your miles should still be this EFFORT level - the pace however WILL get faster.

    MOG - if you can't run an 1hr a day, can you run 5min a day? 10min? You probably could EVENTUALLY run 1hr a day, but it may take a long while. It is though, I believe, ultimately an acheiveable goal for almost everyone.
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Thanks Pantman - had already discovered the Phil Maffetone website through an internet search earlier, but hadn't found the Mark Allen one. How long should base training last - or does this depend on where you're starting from?

    Looking ahead a bit, when does one start adding 'quality' sessions like tempo runs and intervals/fartlek? My plan is to run the Windsor half on 28th September on the basis of the training I've been doing up until now. I know from reading Hadd (but had suspected anyway) that there isn't as tight a relationship as there should be between my performances over increasing race distance because I run insufficient weekly mileage and the miles I do run I run too fast. So after Windsor I'll start on the base training, and my only real target then is the FLM next April (assuming I get in). This should give sufficient time to start building a decent base I guess? The increase in mileage built over the winter can only help in marathon training.
  • By not putting a time limit on base building for a base(!) you can allow yourself as much time as you need to get there. Take as long as you need.

    Once you start to build on that, adding long run, etc. you should GRADUALLY start to run 3 runs faster just up the HR by 5bpm to start with and do not go anaerobic at all. Same with fartlek - great for training, getting the HR up on the hills and letting it recover on the downs, but NEVER go anaerobic - it will limit the success of your aerobic bace building.

    Aerobic capacity takes years to build. Anaerobic fitness acn be achieved in a month if you are aerobically fit. Leave it for now.

    You may also want to do some alactic sppedwork - short (50-100m) reps with lots of rest that are tto short for lactate to form - use these for form and to get the body used to moving fast, but not flat out. If you are training for a 3:30 marathon or slower they are probably not necessary though.

    But like I say, it is easier to get the mileage up with FB running pace and no long runs. Hit that 1hr a day first and then build the "proper" base.
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Thanks Pantman, this is excellent stuff and makes a great deal of sense. The whole Lydiard-based approach (which is basically what guys like Hadd, Maffetone and Allen are advocating) seems very sound and I'll be interested to see how much my 10K and half-marathon times improve by next summer.

    Must buy a heart rate monitor now I've decided to go down this road. How advanced a model do you think I'll need? I was thinking of a mid-range one - enough functions that it allows you set the heart rate and beeps when you don't keep to it.
  • If it tells you your HR, it'll do!

    Average HR is useful and one that allows you to see stopwatch and HR simultaneously is also helpful.

    Most of the bits are superfluous (e.g. calorie "guesser"!)
  • You'll never regret taking the time to do this Minkin - most people who say they cannot do more than X miles per week are doing speedwork and all sorts. This will not only help you now, but will prepare for hard training for YEARS to come.
  • Great advice Pantman, thanks.
    Its still a difficult concept to get my head around - that training really slowly, hardly breaking a sweat can make me become faster and fitter.
    But all the articles & advice make sense. Best thing for me to do is try it, and see how many "it really works" and "it didn't work for me" posts appear here towards xmas.

    Any idea how long it takes to get some (small) results? I'm thinking that I could try base training now, and if I haven't achieved any noticeable results by (say) the end of November, I can try something different?
  • Minkin,

    I have found the Cardiosport Go (£35 from more than sufficient. It doesn't have a function to set target HR's but you'll find that, to begin with at least, you'll exceed your set limits on even the slightest incline. It does, however, have an average HR function - I find it more useful to accept my HR will rise above my target on inclines but as long as my average at the end is in the target zone I'm happy. Also stops you becoming a slave to your HRM if you are prepared to accept fluctuations either side of your zone caused by terrain.

    Basically, a good intro model. If you want to move up to a better model later then fine - it was only £35. If you hate the HRM then you've only spent £35 rather than £100.

    PS - I have no connection whatsoever with Cardiosport or!!
  • Davros,
    I make sure ALL my runs are in zone and the hardest bits hit my MAx FB level and the average is MUCH lower...

    Think of it as an investment for years to come and not JUST for results in teh short term. That said you will definitely see progress, just don't measure it in absolute speed...
  • Pantman,

    Do you not find you are almost walking on hills then?
  • MinksMinks ✭✭✭
    Thanks all. I take it that this type of training has worked for you, Pantman? How quickly did you see improvement? I'm perfectly prepared to take the time to do this because the concept is backed up by scientific theory and I can understand why I'll be doing what I'll be doing. I guess you know you're improving when you can run at a constant pace and your heart rate stays the same throughout the run, and you don't have to walk up hills to keep it constant!

    Thanks for the advice on HRMs Davros - good to know I won't need to spend a lot to get one that does what I need it to do.

    The new regime starts on 1st October (may as well make it the start of a new month as my half marathon is on 28th September).
  • Davros - now down to sub 7min/miles @145bpm, actually...
  • And if 2secs per mile per lb of fat is correct (and in my experience it is) - I should be 6min/miling at 145bpm by the time I hit race weight. Very exciting (for me anyway!)
  • Blimey!
  • Fair way for me to go yet then...
  • Right, a couple of weeks of easy running then I start banging in the base miles.

    Given the fact my marathon goal is in April what long runs should I be doing? 2 hours per week?

    Also I have read you don't necessarily run every run at the same HR.

    I'm thinking of morning runs @ 65% WHR - about 140 bpm

    For evening runs the following...

    Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Saturday @ 70% - 145-155 bpm

    Tuesday @ 160 bpm - 75%

    Thurday @ 170 bpm - 80% WHR - lactate threshold run.

    Sunday - would 65% be right?
  • Pantman - quick question for you:

    How do you set your target zones? Say, you are aiming to run at 145bpm would you have a zone of 140-150 outside of which you wouldn't go and end up with an average of 145 or do you aim to stick to 145 all the way through (i.e no 'zone' at all)?

    Surely you must experience even minor fluctuations in HR which would make sticking to exactly 145 throughout impossible?

    Or do you have a narrower zone of say 143-148 to allow for such fluctuations?

    Sorry for waffling - was just intriguing me how you structured your HR runs.

  • BR, (and also in answer to e-mail - sorry!)
    The base for a base that I was outlining for Minkin, would be covered by you in your "recovery" period. That should all be slow and easy.
    The "proper" base would be pretty much as you say. Those doubles you've convinced me on! I'd also try a third "faster" day on the Saturday. Just build them in gradually...
    Also I'd extend the recovery period to a MINIMUM of 4 weeks - just to play safe. If you are building up to 1hr a day PLUS doubles of 20min each morning you could easily spread the build up over 6 weeks - that is a lot of miles at your pace. I think your body would tahnk you for the slower miles for an extended period in the long run. Plenty of time...
    If you build all three "faster" runs up to LT for a PORTION of the run, you'll have ample speed for a base. You may also want to do soem alactic speed and drills during the slower runs. So certainly not ALL slow and easy.
    You could build up to 1.5hrs on easier days and 1hr (inc build up) on faster days. The main progression over time would be long runs - try alternating on a five weeks cycle. (Up to) 3hrs slow; (up to) 2hrs building up to a few miles at marathon pace at the end; repeat these two; 5th week recovery week (less all week) 1.5 - 2hr (max) slow.
    What do you think?

    I aim to NEVER go over 145 - full stop. Occasionally I misjudge and regualrly hit 146 (that's when the alarm goes off), often hit 147 and have on occasion hit 148. Nevr more. My averages are very low as allow a fair time to build up to the "higher" HRs. So on a 40min run I would still be below 135 at 20min say.
    I am shooting for a build up of speed from a slow w/u and then a constant effort so that the max HR at the end is 145.
  • Pantman, I was thinking of 40 mins in the morning and an hour to 90 mins in the evening!

    Is 3hrs really necessary for a Sunday run? I don't intend being on my feet much over 2:40 in April!

    Will try to last out 4 weeks before starting. As you can gather I'm champing at the bit already!
  • I think 3hr runs are helpful, if only 2 out of 5 weeks... I plan to do them, but obviously that's easy to say as I'm not there yet...

    And those early weeks are actually DOING something... don't feel that they are simply wasting time - they acheive a lot!
  • Just read all the Hadd stuff. I don't have a scientific brain but I managed to get the tube of toothpaste analogy.

    By that method there'd be nothing over 145 bpm until that was cracked then move on to 150 bpm. (or have I read that wrong).

    Are we just talking variations on the same theme here? It is just like speedwork - people saying x session is great because it worked for y runner whilst another coach recommends something different?

    If the general principle is slowish running I can get my head round that.

    At what point does a run become anaerobic so I can avoid that as much as possible?

    Sorry to bang on but I find this fascinating.
  • Barnsley - you'll need a 20 minute warm up if you are taking this marathon thing seriously !
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