Building a Strong Running Base: A Quick How-to and Why You Should.

Build a base! Now is a great time to. Base building isn’t sexy. Most people don’t brag about their weeks on end of easy to moderate runs for time, but I strongly believe proper base building helps set you up for successful training cycles. 

Reasons you should build a base:

  • You will increase aerobic efficiency. You will get your body used to using oxygen in its most efficient way possible. 
  • You can see an improvement in your VO2max (especially new runners!).
  • If you don’t gradually build a base before jumping into training, you risk an adverse reaction when stressing your body.
  • Taking time to build a base helps set you up for success with your next training cycle.
  • Consistently running again will help your body get used to the stress without unnecessary risk of injury.
  • You will work on your mental strength without the added pressure of racing.

How-to start incorporating more running:

  • Start with easy runs. Save speed/high-intensity for your next building phase.
  • Run for time. Set a goal of running for 15 minutes, get outside, and do not worry about the distance you cover.
  • Aim for one longer run a week. Make it work with your schedule. If you have more time to run on Wednesdays, then make that your long run day. Set yourself up for success.
  • Alternate with cross training days. If you enjoy cycling, swimming, yoga, etc — make sure these activities have a place in your schedule. Try not to run many consecutive days in a row in the beginning.
  • If the weather is extra terrible, sub for cross training. The beauty of not officially ‘training’ means you can let yourself skip running in the blizzard and cross train any time you’d like. Cross training is a key part of base building. 
  • Make it fun. Have a run date with your partner. Run to the library to pick up a book. Use your running time as podcast listening time. Think of ways to make each run more fun or productive — it can help make sure you don’t skip it. 

If you get back to consistency, you will have fewer runs where your mind tells you “I want to stop.” You will be building mental toughness, even if you are not running hard speed workouts. Consistency BEFORE intensity.

A sample week for someone coming back to running after an extended break:

  • Monday: Run 10-15 minutes
  • Tuesday: cross train
  • Wednesday: Run 20 minutes
  • Thursday: rest day
  • Friday: Run 10-15 minutes
  • Saturday: cross train
  • Sunday: Run 30 minutes

Don’t be afraid to throw in some walk minutes. Do not stress about how fast you go! This isn’t a set example for every runner. Some people can jump into more time right away. Some need a little less. Depends on your running history. But for example if you have been running 0-10 miles a week, do not try to automatically jump back into 40 miles a week. Or if you have been running 40 miles a week, do not jump right up to 80 mile weeks. Gradual is the key word.

Work on your mileage base for 4-8 weeks before progressing, if time allows. Then move into the next phase of building where you add speed back for 4-8 weeks. 

You can do it. 

Start now. It is a great time to build a base. Try to hold yourself accountable and work on making running a consistent part of your routine again. 

Base building is not always the ~fun part of training, but it is an essential part. Do not be afraid to dedicate real effort to building a strong base. If you feel really good some days, go a little faster and if the easy days feel good, enjoy the easy. Let this base building time remind you why you love to run in the first place. 

And if you want a little extra guidance and accountability, coaches are out there to help you reach your goals.

Why Coaching?

I have worked with my endurance coach, Eric, for over two years now. I originally sought out a coach in December of 2017 after a recommendation from my chiropractor. I had spent a lot of 2017 injured from over training, but I had earned my spot at my first Boston Marathon that coming April and all I really cared about was getting to that start line injury free. My chiropractor knew me pretty well at that point and said the main thing I needed was someone to reel me in, slow me down, and teach me how to run in a way I could sustain for life.

Intro: Eric.

I met Eric for coffee to learn more about his coaching style and what he offered and decided to go for it. Yes, this was an investment. I now had a new monthly payment. But I really wanted to prioritize my training and my health, so I made it work. I knew there would be value in 1:1 coaching completely custom to me, my strengths, and my schedule. 

Obviously, this has worked well since I am still working with Eric as my coach over two years later. But I won’t tell you I was an angel athlete in the beginning. Eric made me start training by heart rate and time rather than set mileage. And he quickly told me my easy runs were nowhere easy enough. I was confused. I felt like they were fine. But he could tell by my heart rate that I was working harder than I should have been. He also had me start run/walking. This was a huge adjustment for me. Let people pass me on the lakefront while I took a walk break? I hated it at first. Next I found out that he was never going to have me run 20 miles as a training run in this marathon cycle. Excuse me, what?! I had always run at least one 20 miler. I fought him on this one. But I realized that I was paying him for his expertise and it would be a waste if I didn’t trust him. So, I gave him my trust. I did exactly what he said for the 4.5 months leading up to Boston. 

I got to Boston feeling extremely nervous. The night before the race I was more nervous about a race than I had ever been before. I felt like I hadn’t done enough. How hard would 26.2 miles feel when my longest run that year had been 16 miles? What if I hadn’t done enough speed work. What if. What if. What if. Luckily, Steph and Melissa singing show tunes for awhile helped me laugh the nerves away. I didn’t even mention how terrible the racing conditions were going to be…

But I showed up. I said, okay this weather is insane, but I am going to push as hard as I can for as long as I can. And I walked away with a 2+ minute PR on a hard course in crazy conditions. I felt truly amazing throughout the entire race. So, maybe Eric really did know what he was doing. 

It really wasn’t even about the PR that day, but the fact that I had gotten through the training cycle without injury. Having a coach to check in with regularly, ask questions and hold me accountable made SUCH a difference for me. If I had to move something around, he made it work for me. If I was sick, he adjusted for me. If I wanted to go out and run like a maniac, knowing he would see it held me back. Having this contact and someone invested in my training was really a game changer.

I’ve stuck with having a coach ever since. I can’t imagine not having one now. My running is really important to me and I think having the individual support is what makes me run well and healthy. I have learned a lot from Eric and Superfly Coaching and it has made me extremely passionate about smart training. So passionate, that I decided to become an endurance coach myself.

I took on my first few athletes this past November and had a few more start in January. Being on the other side of training is really exciting. I understand the hard parts of making changes, slowing down, dealing with injury, etc because I have been there. I want to help athletes reach their goals and also teach them habits that will help keep them running for a lifetime. I am so invested in their goals and working with them is truly fun for me. 

If you want to learn more about my run coaching, please feel free to reach out. Send me an email to marathonerdale@gmail.com or a DM on Instagram. I have room for a few more people to start if they are ready. And I will be taking on more athletes come fall marathon training cycle too. Eric and I are also in the works of bringing together a virtual Superfly Track Club a group through Superfly Coaching that will focus strictly on runners. Stay tuned! 

I am always working at being the best runner and coach I can be. I learn new things every day, I try new things, I talk through things with Eric. 

I can confidently say I would not be the runner I am if I had not explored coaching. No matter what your goals are, I think coaching can help you reach them. It helps to have someone believe in your goals as much as you do. 

Coach