Embrace the Base
|January 10, 2013||Posted by Lauren under Marathon Training, Running|
The base of the mountain.
The base of fresh powder.
…the base of marathon training.
Also known as that wonderful time when you pretty much get to run whatever you want — however far, however fast, and however often you feel like heading out.
As much as I complain about an overall lack of motivation to get out the door these days, I don’t really have a problem once I’m out there. Despite the cold and my overall lack of endurance, running during this base building time is actually my favorite. And I kind of forgot how much I missed it.
When I started training for NYCM last summer, I jumped right into a training plan – from “0” to prescribed workouts in one week. Not really smart, and not exactly recommended for marathon success. I was still careful with the build up, but I missed out on that whole “get your endurance back phase” that’s a pretty critical cornerstone of marathon training. Without endurance, you can’t really focus on gaining speed (since you’re just focused on getting in the miles). And without speed, your sole focus becomes simply completing the race — not necessarily improving your time.
Which is fine — if completion is your goal. For a first race or a new distance PR, completion should be the #1 priority. But for your 7th marathon? Not so much.
So this time around, I’m Embracing the Base. Taking my time to build up some sort of endurance before I really need to start focused marathon training. Base building looks differently for everyone — some runners keep a great base year round. Others build up slowly to 15 – 20 miles and use that as a jumping-off point. My goal right now is to shoot for 40 miles per week at the end of January and build my marathon training from there.
I’ve put together a plan (above) but it’s just a guideline. A basic path that shows where I am now and where I want to end up. The beauty of the base building phase is that the specific workouts don’t matter. I want to shoot for running 40 miles per week at the beginning of training, but I won’t stress if I’m a few miles under or over that goal. My only plan is to run (semi)unplanned for the next few weeks.
- Running easy. I am happily enjoying a month with no prescribed speed workouts. While I fully believe that those workouts are essential to running a faster marathon (as opposed to just piling on the miles), I think I’ll be doing enough of them for the 16 weeks leading up to VCM. So the speed can wait.
- Running happy. I’m also not planning on setting any sort of goal paces for the next few weeks. If I want to go slow for every single run, I will. Just like I won’t stop myself if I’m feeling especially excited to be out running and want to throw in a few fast miles just for the heck of it. The important thing right now is to just get back into running regularly again.
- Running naked. When I’m in the thick of training, my Garmin is like an extra appendage. Whether it’s keeping me slow on recovery runs or helping me hit goal paces during speed workouts, I rarely leave home without it. But for now I’m enjoying my ability to run naked. The time to stress about the watch will come.
- Running free. I usually plan my routes based on the type of workout I need to complete — hills, tempo, recovery, long run — I have a different route I like to take for each of these runs. But now? I lace up my shoes, pick a direction, and go. Sometimes this means that I don’t get in quite as many miles as I had put on my base building plan, sometimes it may mean that I run more. That’s the beauty of running free.
- Running balanced. Meaning not always running – but instead taking the time to cross train and strength train. It’s so easy to let these activities go when I’m training. Even if I technically have time to lift or cross train, I’m way less motivated to do either because of the way it might interfere with my running. Oh I can’t lift — my legs will be too sore for my speed workout tomorrow. Oh, cross training uses different muscles and I can’t really handle those muscles being sore right now. I need to run long tomorrow. See? The excuses are easy to generate. Right now I don’t really have any excuse to not lift (or ones that are legitimate, anyway…). So I’m not only dragging my butt to the gym for 30 minutes of strength training torture twice a week, but I’m also rewarding myself with lots of fun cross training activities — of the outdoor, winter sport variety (what else can you do to make the long winter in Vermont more bearable?).
This is my fancy gym. It’s within walking distance of my house. It’s also little more than a glorified hotel fitness center. I bet you’re all jealous.
For the next few weeks, I’ll be enjoying stress-free, no pressure running. The kind of running that makes you fall back in love with the sport. And leaves you hungry for more.