How to Build Your Running Base


Whether you are a new runner just starting out, or a veteran runner and want to improve your race, you need to build a solid base or foundation to begin. Base training is necessary for everyone to avoid injury.

What is a Running Base?

A “running base” is the initial leg strength and cardiovascular fitness you gain from the training period of easy running.  This helps you build a foundation to make sure you are able to run at more intense levels in the future without getting injured.

Easy running means you will run at a conversational pace; you should not be out of breath and you should be able to hold a conversation with someone while you run.  Your pace should only be as slow as needed to not be out of breath. Typically, this pace is 65 to 75 percent of your total effort.

In addition to the easy runs, you should also be implementing speed workouts and long runs too. Speed workouts are meant to be quick runs (you should be going at 90 to 95 percent speed) with rest in between. Your goal is to build leg strength, speed, and improve your running mechanics. Long runs take one to two and a half hours to complete and should be 25 to 30 percent of your weekly mileage. These runs should be done once a week and get progressively longer until the third quarter of your training. A good trick is to add five minutes to the run every week or two until you get to the time or distance you want.

For those new to running:

If you are new to running, it is recommended to start with a walk/run program.  One suggestion is to start out with just 10 minutes as three minutes running and two minutes walking.  This can be done twice a week for the first couple of weeks and then another weekly session can be added.  Once the runner becomes comfortable and acclimated, the next step would be to increase the running interval.

For those coming back from an injury or a long time away from running:

If you have been away from the running scene for a while, whether just a break in training or because of an injury, start out at about half of what your weekly mileage was.  You can increase the volume by 10 percent for two weeks and then a “cut back” every third week.  You can introduce speed work after about the first four weeks.  To begin speed work, start out with three or four 400-meter repeats and add an interval every week or two.  Once you reach 10 x 400, you can step back the number of intervals and move up to 800s for your repeats.



How long should base training be?

It always depends on your schedule and current fitness. The more time you have for your goal and/or the less fitness you currently have the longer your base training should be. However, your base training should be no less than six weeks – even for veterans.  More important than “following a training plan” should be that you listen to your body.  Trying to work through pain or chronic fatigue will only lead to poor performance, or worse, injury.

Base Training Example:

Weeks one through four:

  • Monday through Friday: two to four days should be an easy 30-55 minute run. Run as far as you would like depending on how you feel mentally and physically.
  • Saturday/Sunday: Continuously make this a longer easy run. Continue to add time here.

Weeks four and beyond:

  • Continue with the easy runs throughout the week and the long run on the weekend.
  • Start adding in a speed session once a week. Give a gap for recovery in between the faster days and the long run.

If you have already started base training for the 2017 race season congrats! If you need help setting or completing your base training plan, contact me today to learn more about how I can help.


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