How to Build a Running Base and Stay Healthy

How to Build a Running Base and Stay Healthy

A few weeks ago, I posted about building a base for running.  Since then, I’ve been trekking along.  I’ve either increased mileage or added speed work (in the form of races) slowly.

Over a month ago, my longest run was about 6 miles.  Last week miles, I ran 10, and while I was tired, I wasn’t injured.  My paces have slowly gotten faster, and my body has become less and less fatigued.

How to Build a Running Base and Stay Healthy

After writing the post, several people emailed and asked to write different posts about the importance of running base building.  Believe me, without a foundation your training will crumble, and you will get injured.  I’ve been there, and the last thing you want is to be injured shortly after starting training again.  So here we are, back to base building.  Please keep in mind I’m not a professional, coach, or getting paid.  I’ve just been around the injury block a few times…

In Short, to Build a Successful Running Base, you Should Focus on Three Principles:

  1. The Length of Your Longest Run (don’t increase it too quickly)
  2. The Length of Your Weekly Runs
  3. Don’t forget to rest!  Take an easier week every 3 weeks (the rest is the most important!)

After about a month, you should see an increase in endurance and less injury-prone.   

That fitness increase is currently what I am seeing.  When I began running again, my paces were probably closer to 10 min miles.  Now I’m running about 9:15 and race.  I’m running longer and a bit faster.

During your running base-building phase, you should run longer to build more endurance and stamina. 

First, I do not mean go out and run 20 miles every day (or ever…running 20 miles every day isn’t wise).  You should slowly increase your mileage and keep it easy.  There is no point to race your training runs.  That will also lead to injury.

You should slowly increase your mileage and keep it easy.  There is no point to race your training runs.  That will also result in injury. The theme of running is usually do too much too soon, and you’ll get injured. It’s not worth it, and slow and steady really does with the win the race.

But What Are the Benefits of Running Longer and Easier? 

  • Build Mental Toughness
  • Improve Muscular Strength
  • Become More Energy Efficient

So How Fast Should I Run? 

Once again, I’m not an expert, and I’m speaking purely on experience.  Personally, I’ve found that running anywhere from 60-90 seconds slower than your race pace has worked.  Most of the time during base building, I don’t bring a watch with me.

During easy runs, you should be able to “talk” the entire time.  Realistically, you shouldn’t increase your long run by more than 1-2 miles every week. The Mcmillian Calculator can help you find an appropriate pace for building your running base.

Finally, The Importance of a Rest Week with Running Base Building: 

Around 4 weeks, you should cut back your distance. Otherwise, you’ll set yourself up for an injury.  You cannot continuously build your mileage, or your body will break.  You will lead to a small injury or issue.

Taking a couple of rest days can save an entire season of running.  Stress fractures aren’t a single injury but form over weeks of continuous stress.


Building a running base sets the foundation for fast workouts and races later on. You can’t build the second floor of a house without a foundation, and you can’t run your best without a foundation. In short, building a running base takes time.  Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither is fitness.

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Questions for you:
How do you build your base?
What is your favorite type of run?  Easy? Long Runs? Tempo? Race? 


  1. I actually love the base building phase and I’m in one right now, leading up to a half marathon in November. I agree with everything you said and I have finally learned to run my longer distances at a relaxed pace and save the speed for planned spadework days! Makes too much sense…

  2. This is my life right now coming back from my surgery! I’m all about rebuilding my base and doing it smart. The LAST thing I want or need is another injury!

  3. As a trainer I try to push it even longer before adjusting programs….more like every 6 weeks instead of 4, but it’s also dependent upon when the next race is. Just did an 8k on Saturday and now base building for the next 8 weeks in prep for April 10k.

  4. Great advice:) I have a hard time holding back and taking rest days and easy weeks, which has resulted in some pretty rough injuries in the last few years. I’m planning to take a much more guided and thoughtful approach to training for my next race!

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