why building a base is so important for running
Running, Running Reads, Training

Why Building a Base is So Important for Running

Right now, I’m running easy.  As I mentioned in my recent training log, I’m building a strong foundation and base. It takes time, it’s unglamorous but it’s also necessary to stay healthy.  My plan was to begin base building two months ago, but life happened.  Oh well, better late than never.

So What is “Building a Base”?

Like building a house, laying the foundation is one of the most important things you can do for your training cycle.  Wheather you’re a new or seasoned runner, it’s important to put in those easy miles.  Personally, I will spend about a month running easy and building mileage. 

Personally, I will spend about a month running easy and building mileage. I don’t care about pace, just that I’m getting out there.  During base building, I’m not pushing it or doing workouts.

Building a base is important for everyone.  If you skip a base, you might find yourself injured or overtrained quickly. Many injuries like stress fractures or muscle problems occur over time.  If you skip base building, you might feel great at first but be injured later.  While running, you should be able to talk and have a conversation during the entire run (which should be anywhere between 75-85% of your total effort).

The goal of base building isn’t speed, it’s building aerobic fitness.  In the last 2 weeks, I’ve worn a GPS watch once (for distance measurement).  I’m fairly certain most of my runs average anywhere from 9-10 minute pace but I don’t find the need to track every mile. In fact, I couldn’t care less about pace.

How I’m Planning to Build My Base:

Thinking out loud, for the first two weeks (last week and this week), my runs will be almost exclusively easy.  The only goal is to dedicate 45-60 minutes getting out there.  Confession: I use my Fitbit start/stop watch on my runs, and it works well. The GPS is mediocre, so I don’t pay attention to it. (Fitbit told me I ran 8 miles at Broad Street in 2016 and I can assure you I’m not a cheater).

For the following two weeks, I will continue with 45-60 minute runs, but I will also include a longer run that will peak around 10 miles. After a few weeks of building back mileage, I might jump into a local 5k to test my fitness.  This could actually be at the end of this week or maybe next.  Will I PR?  No probably not.  Will I get a good indication of where to go from there? Yes.

This isn’t a training plan, and I’m not a coach.  Base building is important for most runners.  Without a strong base, you’re more susceptible to injury.

In take away, the point of base building isn’t to race mileage or run your fastest mile.  It’s to lay a foundation so you can incorporate speed work.  Without a strong base and foundation, your training will crumble.

Relevant Running Related Articles:
How Easy is it to Get Out of Running Shape?
Why a Running Break is Necessary
Why You Should Take a Rest Week

Questions for you:
How long do you typically build your base?
Do you prefer longer easy runs or short fast workouts?

1 thought on “Why Building a Base is So Important for Running”

  1. “While running, you should be able to talk and have a conversation during the entire run (which should be anywhere between 75-85% of your total effort).”

    Your quote is the thing I struggle with personally. I read it everywhere and I’m not at that point yet and I feel I am moving so slow. I am short so my stride is already smaller. I’m averaging 15 and a half minutes a mile combination of walk/jog.

    Should I be slowing down even more? If I do, I feel like I’d just be speed walking and not actually running which bums me out.

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