The goal of this type of training is to prepare the body for all the subsequent training you endeavor to undertake. You can look at your base training like a checking account you might open up at your bank. The amount of money that you deposit in your account will determine how much money you can spend; the more money that you deposit, the more checks you can write on the account. If you write more checks than your account has money, you will be overdrawn & the bank will bounce the check. In the same way, the more miles that you are able to log on your legs during your base period the stronger you become. It is this strength that you will call upon throughout a racing season to help you through your workouts & races. It is important to know that you will need to continue with the components of base training throughout your season, as they will provide you with the strength you will need to draw from throughout your season.
Easy Runs: The easy run has two basic purposes. One, to help increase the foundation of your base through the accumulation of miles & two, to aid in general recovery by encouraging healthy blood flow. As you begin the other types of training, you will tear down muscles & then rest to allow them to recover. The easy run is a comfortable paced run that increases blood flow throughout the muscles & encourages healthy repair. You will need to include these easy runs multiple times per week to insure adequate recovery & continued development of your base. The easy run can be as short as 15-20 minutes long but should be no longer than hour. It is not recommended to run longer than 60 minutes on an easy day as the muscles will begin to fatigue significantly & hence become a hard day.
Long Runs: The long run is the foundation of any endurance athlete’s training. By extending the distance run gradually, you will significantly increase your aerobic fitness by encouraging the adaptation of red blood cells (which carry oxygen to the working muscles) & aid in the recruitment of mitochondria (which are the powerhouse of the muscles.) You will create a foundation upon which the rest of your training can build upon. You should run a long run at least once every two weeks to guarantee maximum benefit. It is very important that you only increase the distance of your long run by 10% each week. Otherwise, you run the risk of injury or over-training. There is no maximum length to a long run & you will need to adjust this distance based upon your goals. If you are planning on running 5 & 10K races then you probably do not need to run beyond 12-14 miles. If your goal is a marathon, however, you will need to run at least 20 miles. Please review week 3’s essay on the long run for other important rules.
Rest Days: Just as important as the days that you training are the days you do not. The best method of implementing your rest days is to schedule them once or twice a week. Those who wait until they need a day off are more likely to run through the aches & pains that need to be attended to with rest & massage.
Rest Periods: In order to get the benefit from training by gaining muscle adaptations over the course of a season or a year, you will need to treat you body to a longer period of rest. You may need a full six-week rest period during the year. In fact, more than one day of rest from running may be a better choice for you than continuous training. Many elite athletes seem to take more breaks in their training than do average or aspiring runners, but all runners benefit from these breaks. Unfortunately, most runners’ breaks are due to injuries when the rest must be used to heal rather than restore.