Base Training Advice

Hi All. Not new to running but have been reading bits and bobs about base training and how base fitness will ultimately benefit during more intense sessions (anaerobic). Will 10 weeks or so on a base training schedule improve my PBs significantly? I'm looking at starting a base training schedule with times runs instead of distance. I've read that base training should be moderately paced. What would be 'moderate? Will a HRM aid base training? If so, what HR %s am I looking at sticking to during the base programme? Any advice would be gratefully received.


  • MillsyMillsy ✭✭✭
    Do a google search for Phil Maffetone.

    It will give you some decent advice for base training.

    10 weeks will help you. It may not improve your PBs immediately but it will enable you to build your speed work on stronger foundations.
  • Many thanks for that Millsy. Will do.
  • Day 1 of 10 weeks. Did a MAF test over three miles at 130bpm. Ridiculously slow but I'm back to 3000m altitude after 3 weeks in UK living in Gregg's and Wetherspoon's (only run was a 15 miler trail along Cleveland Way).

    So how did day one of the Maffetone method go?

    Chose130bpm with my max using '180' method as 135. Struggled keeping to that - slow down, go right under that, speed up - was getting to 135 once reached 137.

    Including warm up - was a 59 min run with 11.44 mile 1, 24.07 mile 2 and 36.59 mile 3.

    Not sure if 135 is right. Not sure if this will work! But looked back at my schedule from mid April I found this interval sesh: this is how it compared with what I did today in terms of 'base' training and I like what I see:

    Today's base: 59.55mins session, 500cal burnt, 50% were burnt using fat, av bpm 122, max bpm 138.

    Interval a few weeks back: 1hr 23 session, only 418cal burnt, only 40% burnt using fat, av bpm 130, max bpm 172. In other words, smashed myself for less benefit.

    So, time will tell but still sceptical.

  • It all depends on the running experience whether you are able to train in different heart rate zones already. But it is great fun to do it.

    I did a MAF test a few weeks back (after getting my new HR monitor which is really accurate which makes HR training a lot more fun) with a 5 mile run.

    To be honest I varied the training during the weeks a little, so I did add some speedwork to it as well but I am more aware of the zones and train on HR one day and on speed the other day

    I ran a 27 miler 2 weeks ago and DID keep the HR on the max MAF rate (while doing RWR as well). That resulted in a great, very very easy and completely steady run. I was not tired, could have continued for miles and miles more.

    Yesterday I did my third MAF test, again 5 easy miles, keeping the HR at the max. There was a huge improvement already: I am more steady, pace is up and it feels so easy that I almost can't believe it.

    I have been training with the run walk run concept by Jeff Galloway for almost 2 years now, getting more and more distance without getting injured. I now feel that it is time to work a little more on speed again and being aware of the heart rate zones and adding some really easy aerobic training runs makes me feel really good.

    So.. I am also experimenting again, can't really give you a lot of information on maffetone, only did 3 MAF tests so far but it feels good.


  • Thanks for that Max. You say you did speed work which is the nearest I've got to base training. It was like a speed/base mix, all on a HRM featured in RW about 10 years ago now. I really benefited from it.

    My concern is that I won't burn as many weekly calories: although the calorie count is good, I won't get the 'afterburn' usually attributed to harder sessions. I'm depending on the use of fat-for-fuel theories surrounding base plans to compensate for the lack of calories burned in these first few weeks before the long runs get longer. If after 5 or so weeks from the 10 I'm not seeing any gains, I might just go back to the speed/hill sessions.

    After a week I'm still sceptical but my legs felt as though I'd done a really good run on the long run (60 mins in week 1) which I did yesterday. My BPM seems easier to control as well now. Hoping it works as so many people say it's essential. It's nice not to worry about the prospect of speed and hills though.

    Big up for your patience as well. Don't think I couldn't go 2 years doing this without my beloved interval work!

  • I did not do this for 2 years, I trained with Jeff Galloway for 2 years which is an advocate of RWR. He also added interval and speed work in the schedule. Tomorrow there is a 14x1.600 repeat on my schedule so what about speedwork and distance. Since I am using the HR monitor again and add some HR training in my schedule, I also pay closer attention to my HR during these repeats. No need to 'race' when you are doing more than a HM distance with speed work.

    So, I would just try some weeks of Maffetone training if you have the time in between races.

    You will see that you become more aware of your own zones and the influence of speed, wind and warmth on your heart rate. That way it is really easy to train as well.

    I was surprised to see progress during the last weeks with the addition of the really slow runs on HR only

  • Oh ok. Thanks. Yes. Hoping to see progress at the end on the longer runs too. I'm going try and stick with it in any case and mix and match with speed work after 10 weeks. No plans to race anywhere for a while. As I say, I'm enjoying the change to a more leisurely yet equally as focused runs. As for its longevity: progress/results will determine that.
  • Just under 3 weeks into this base programme now and I'm starting to see results.

    I'm able to keep more control over my cadence at 135 or chosen BPM under 135 - 135 being my max using the Maffetone method..

    I'm also able to spend at least 20 - 25 mins under, building up to or at 135BPM at 10km per hour. Before, I'd be well over 135BPM at 10km per hour. Managing to maintain weight as I progress. This is where I remain a little sceptical because I don't think I'm getting the afterburn I'm used to from doing a couple of speed sessions a week. Also my calories used rate is decreasing I assume because my body is adjusting to its new workload.


    Early days yet (2.3 weeks from 10).

  • Well now at week 7. Last MAF test after 3 weeks was as follows: 3 x 1 mile:

    Mile 1 9.30 knocked 2.14 off first MAF test

    Mile 2 9.58 knocked 2.25 off first MAF test

    Mile 3 10.14 knocked 2.37 off first MAF test

    Cracked on and definitely felt faster.Then today I did a MAF test - programmed in for end week 7:

    Mile 1 9.28 -2 secs from MAF 2

    Mile 2 9.36 -24 from MAF 2

    Mile 3 10.07 -7 from MAF 2

    Pleased but do I need to increase or decrease to make better gains? These times suggest I'm plateauing out. Suggestions/advice welcome.


  • Why do you think you are keeping the same? Each week is way too much in my opinion and besides.... also take wind, sun etc into account in the results. I would simply continue and why not take the 5 mile tests? They are more obvious and there is lots to improve on 5 mile tests

  • Garrie, your approach is far too short term. I've been doing maf training for six months and I'm only seeing big improvements recently. I was stuck on a plateau for many weeks, or even went backwards. I've given up the maf tests, I can see I am getting faster in races. 3 weeks is nothing, completely irrelevant. Forget your times, just do good mileage, and come back in 2 or 3 months. This is a very long term thing, but if you really want to improve there are no shortcuts.

  • mowzermowzer ✭✭✭

    Definitely a long term approach. Constant testing won't help you improve. Have patience and work on slowly building up the miles. And you can do hills - just make sure you keep at your working heart rate. That probably means you'll have to walk up at first - but you can run down quite fast as you're using gravity instead of energy and it gives your legs a nice quick turnover image.

  • All use-able and good advice. Thank you.

  • OK. Will do thanks for that.

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