Meghan Trainor wasn't wrong when she sang, "It's all about that BASS!"
In running it truly is ALL ABOUT THAT BASE.
What is Running Base?
Your running base is your foundational fitness. It is what you bring to the starting line of any training program.
This isn't just important for new runners. Even experienced runners need to make sure they have a good base before ramping up their training.
Why is it important?
The fitness you build when you establish or maintain a running base includes improving on two components: your cardiovascular system and your muscular system.
- Cardiovascular system -- strengthen your heart and lungs to prep you for intense workouts that will come in race training.
- Muscular system -- the gradual build-up will help ensure you are developing the physical strength necessary to support your body through training and race efforts.
By regularly running and building your fitness, you strengthen your heart so that it doesn’t have to work as hard on future runs. You also get better at using oxygen so you’re not huffing and puffing as much. And your muscles build strength and endurance so that you feel stronger running longer.
What are the benefits?
Lowers The Risk Of Injury
Running is a high-impact sport, and without the proper preparation the body runs the risk of not being able to handle that impact. With appropriate base training (including both running and strength training), the body can adapt to the impact by strengthening muscles, bones, and joints.
Because base training running is done at an easy pace, the body can recover from each run instead of experiencing high fatigue as you run on tired legs. Training without a solid base can weaken you more and open up the opportunity to experience overuse injuries such as shin splints, runner's knee, and stress fractures.
Increases Cardiovascular Endurance
The more low-intensity work your body does, the more capillaries are produced around the cells. This allows your body to move more blood and ultimately more oxygen to your muscles. Another amazing adaptation our body makes while working in our base training zone is with our mitochondria. Remember those cell powerhouses we spoke about in high school biology class? By multiplying the number of mitochondria we have and increasing their size and strength, we will produce more energy to use during our runs.
Improves Your Mental Toughness
Base training not only improves your body physically, but also helps your mind. Even short "easy" runs feel like an incredible feat when we first begin running. We know our bodies need to adapt to this challenge, but our brains need to adapt as well.
Going out day after day at your conversational pace will make each run feel easier and easier. After your mind and body are comfortable with your base training, you can begin to stress them with new adaptations, such as speedwork.
Base Training Tips
- Always Stay At a Conversational Pace -- Ensure you are running at a pace where you could carry a conversation with someone else. If you are using your level of perceived exertion, you should be between a 2-3.
- Adjust Your Pace Depending on the Terrain -- Staying at an easy pace can be more complicated than it sounds, especially if you are running on hilly roads or challenging trails. Remember: go at whatever pace you need to stay in a very comfortable zone where you would be able to carry on a conversation! Depending on your fitness level, the terrain, and even the weather, this will vary greatly.
- Forget About Pace -- This is probably the hardest one for runners. Don’t think about your pace at all. Remember that base training most commonly focuses on your level of perceived effort. If you need to, hide the pace from sight on your watch or treadmill! You can set up a watch face that only shows time.
- Run With A Friend -- Running with a friend during base training is a great way to pass the time and ensure you will be talking!
- Be Patient -- We all want to get faster. Slowing down may seem counterintuitive and make you feel like no progress is being made, but you need to trust the process and look forward to reaping the results!
Do you do any base training before starting a training cycle?