Praise for the Base

If you’ve ever considered starting to run, my advice to you is to stop considering and get up and go. Start with one mile and mostly walk. Build to alternating walking and running in that same one mile distance and slowly add up to a second mile. Continue to run/walk. Then start to do more running than walking. Eventually add up to a third mile and switch back to the run/walk combo if you need to. Let your body get used to the movement of running and go forward at whatever pace is comfortable. Before you know it, you will have gotten so used to running you won’t remember why you never ran in the first place.

Plus, you’ll have a running base that you can build on and come back to throughout your running career.I distinctly recall thinking about how much I appreciated having a good running base during one particularly challenging long run while marathon training last year. I was pushing along up a hill and feeling proud of what I was able to do but then I realized that the only reason I was able to tackle that hill, or 26.2 miles, was because I had spent the time building a solid base.

I have been reminded again of the value of a running base now that I am essentially ‘starting over.’ Though I ran and then ran/walked all through pregnancy, I still need to rebuild what I consider a solid base. For me, that is three miles at a minimum. I want to always be able to comfortably run three miles. Right now, comfortable is somewhere around a 9 minute mile but eventually I will strengthen my base so that comfortable is an 8 minute mile and then I will build the base so that it is more like five miles.

Building a base takes time and even training. Of course, the base training depends on the reason you’re base training in the first place. Are you building a running base as a brand new runner? Or are you building a solid base so you can begin a training plan for a specific distance? Either way, taking the time to log miles, monitor pace and heart rate, and varying the type of running done during base training will pay off.

In my case, I am rebuilding my running base after having been out of the groove during pregnancy and I am using this rebuild as the base for half marathon training which I will begin mid-July to prepare for the October Baltimore Half Marathon. My base running plan includes three runs a week for a minimum of three miles. One run will be at an easy pace, one I will run as fartleks or some sort of speed workout or hills and the other will be a ‘long’ run pushing to four and then five miles. By mid-July my base pace should be down to 8:45 (preferably 8:30) for the base three mile run.

What do you consider your base? And how do you train for, and maintain it?

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