HOW TO BE THE ACE OF BASE
How to effectively design a period of BASE training for running
Recommending a BASE training period is a complex issue for a group of runners who have non-homogenous backgrounds when joining a group running environment, especially in terms of their current running volume coming into a preparatory period.
Considering that runners who are interested in a specific BASE program are sufficiently experienced one can assume that they are fairly proficient runners.
The following is the approach I follow with runners that I coach:
Be sure that you have provided sufficient down time/recovery time or “detraining” since your last long event before commencing with training for the next major race. A full week’s break with some walking or light hiking, followed by 2 to 3 weeks of light running is recommended
Determine your weekly average mileage over the preceding 6-week period
From this number (weekly average) add 15% per week if you have done less than 30 miles per week. Add 10% per week if the number of miles is greater than 30 miles
Taking the longest manageable long run as a marker, add 15% per long run if that longest run was less than 8 miles or less than 75 minutes of running. If more add 10% per week
If you have run an average of 2 or less runs per week add 2 runs per week during the BASE period. If you have run 3 or more times per week on average over the last 6 weeks, then add 1 run per week during the BASE period. Do this until the optimal number of runs per week has been achieved.
It is recommended that one day per week is taken as a complete leg rest, or actively rested with a walk or hike as the recovery modality. If you ride a bike regularly, an easy bike ride will also suffice
It is suggested that no more than 9 runs per week are completed by runners who run less than 60 miles per week (although low volume high frequency is the safest way to build effective volume)
Consider your individual recovery rate when determining run frequency & volume during BASE. Older &/or heavier &/or runners with poor mechanics should pay careful attention to this point. As a general rule of thumb, runs exceeding 15 miles or their time equivalent, or 90 minutes of running, require additional recovery time beyond the usual 48 hour period. Allow this to guide your individual run determination, as well as the recovery requirements after each run; especially long runs
Don’t build BASE linearly—take a down week of around 75% of the previous week’s volume, at least every 2-4 weeks. Also do not build BASE indefinitely. BASE lasts & previous years of BASE allow the runner to spend less time each new build phase restoring that BASE. I do not like exceeding 12 weeks of build time (excluding down weeks)
It is suggested that during this BASE period you keep the heart rate low (at least below 75% of your heart rate reserve—which is maximum heart, minus resting heart rate, multiplied by .75, plus your resting heart rate). With runners capable, I suggest less than 70% of heart rate reserve. Any prolonged intensity work like lactate threshold or tempo runs during this period will lead to an early plateau in your training
Finally it is recommended that leg speed be introduced & developed during this phase through gradually introduced (after around 3 weeks) & increased striding up to 3 times per week. Keep the strides alactic, i.e. at or below 15seconds so that issues mentioned in the previous point do not arise. Rather build volume at speed by adding repetitions. Take ample rest between strides, allowing the heart rate to settle completely before doing the next repeat. Always maintain control through increasing speed gradually & maintaining excellent form. Start with 4X15 seconds & build to a maximum of around 2 sets of 5X15seconds
Enjoy the BASE period; build thoroughly & progressively. The secret to a successful BASE period is gradually overloading the system, allowing it to recover stronger in preparation of the body for the more rigorous training to come.
Grace, Gratitude & Guts