Get Fit With This Ten-Week Running Base-Building Plan
Starting at five hours a week, this ten-week program will help you build endurance and jump-start your training this winter
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Starting at five hours a week, this ten-week program will help you build endurance and jump-start your training this winter.
Base building is the foundation of all training. It’s the first and most important element of longer training cycles, but can also be reinforced repeatedly throughout the training process. If you’re totally new to running, or are currently running less than 20 miles or four hours a week, start with our Beginner Bootcamp, then you’ll be ready to hit the ground running with this plan!
This ten-week training plan will help you gradually increase mileage and includes a weekly long run and introductory speedwork. Starting at around five hours a week, the plan focuses on running for time to make it approachable for athletes who have been running three to four times a week. Training by time helps limit how long you’re out there running and can help you better gauge effort level (hint: most of it should feel easy!) rather than focusing purely on hitting the mileage.
The goal of this — and any — base building period is to build endurance or aerobic capacity. Endurance takes a long time to develop, but the benefits are equally long-lasting. A common misconception about base training is that it’s just easy miles, when in fact, building a proper base is made up of several components to target every element of your fitness. The body doesn’t work in mutually exclusive energy systems, nor do you only develop base, speed or strength one at a time. Every run is a little bit of everything in different combinations.
Why Build Base?
Base building helps set (or reinforce) your foundation for future training. Before an athlete can dive into complicated speed workouts or train specifically for a race, you need to have a solid base. With fewer races, winter is often an optimal time for base building!
This type of training helps increase the density of capillary beds around muscle fibers, which improves blood delivery to muscles. It also fine-tunes the recruitment of slow-twitch muscle fibers. Easy running (below aerobic threshold) makes those fibers more efficient and helps your fast-twitch fibers act more like slow-twitch fibers, ideal for endurance athletes. This training plan also helps improve your ability to process oxygen. Over time, your body will get more efficient at using oxygen, making longer and harder training feel easier (because it will be!).
This plan includes weekly long runs of 90 to 105 minutes. The goal is to run easy, and fuel well, which will help build denser mitochondria, boost capillary beds, improve mental toughness, improve muscular strength and improve running economy.
Think base training doesn’t include any speedwork? Think again! While it’s not the primary focus, it’s still important in helping maintain turnover and neuromuscular fitness (how effectively your brain communicates with your muscles). This plan uses strides and short hill repeats to build fitness and improve running economy. Without that element of speed, you won’t develop as much neuromuscular fitness and may slow down with time. Plus, short intervals of speed will get you ready for more advanced training (like this six-week speed build) with longer or more difficult workouts.
Cross-Training and Strength
The plan includes spots for optional cross-training once a week, like hiking, biking, skiing or swimming. The goal is not to wear yourself out on cross-training days, but to support our overall goal of keeping things mostly aerobic. Some strength-training is great too; we recommend an easy and infinitely repeatable workout like this Strength Work Cheat Sheet.
Use this plan to combine higher mileage, longer long runs and smart speedwork to build an unshakeable aerobic base. Your 2022 race calendar will thank you.