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?

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Workouts of the Week: Trending

I’m in the uncomfortable zone.

I had one good week of running, and I feel darn good about it.

But I don’t want to jynx myself either.  I don’t want to get overzealous.  In June, I had a string of about 3 good weeks that I thought would turn into the epic comeback after a burnout.

But here we are two months later.

So with that, I’ll just say I had one good week of training.  Not a comeback, but also my best week of training since June.

As I mentioned last week in my monthly recap, my goal is to run about 45 minutes or 5 miles most days with appropriate rest as well as a long run. I want to recreate a foundation and base to keep my body healthy.  This will stay a trend until I feel good. We will see where next week takes me.

For me, this is also a critical time because I’m most susceptible to injury.  I haven’t been consistently running mileage.  I have been running enough, but it hasn’t been as consistent as training.

This critical time is when begin to pay more attention to recovery including stretching, foam rolling and more frequent deep tissue massages.  Yes, pricey but less than a trip to get a Xray or even MRI.  Plus, I haven’t spent much in running shoes or race entry fees, so it all evens out.

Monday: 45 minutes running
Tuesday: 45 minutes running/15 minutes core
Wednesday:  OFF
Thursday: 45 minutes running
Friday: 45 minutes running/15 minutes core
Saturday:  45 minutes running
Sunday:  Long Run: 55 minutes

Total: 30-33 miles

While boring, it’s all part of the process.  I took quite a bit of time away from training, so it’s important to build back a strong foundation. I don’t want to commit to actually “training” until I have the time, but I do my schedule is going to begin to free up soon.

Posts of the Week:
July Workouts
How Easy is it To Get Out of Running Shape?

Questions for you:
How long do you typically stay in a base building, easy running mode?
Do you get deep tissue massages?

I love them!

How Easy is it to “Get Out of Running Shape”?

I am not in peak running shape.  In fact, I am still a healthy and active person, but I’m not “in shape” right now either.  Thinking out loud, one could argue being “in shape” is actually just a gray area.  Just like fast and slow, elite or not.  One person’s “in shape” is another person’s out.

It takes a long time to lose running fitness.  You don’t lose fitness with a day or even a week off.  In fact, the benefits of rest far outweigh any small consequences.  You could argue the benefits of taking 1…2..or 3 months off of training too.

This is the longest I have taken off from seriously running since starting in 2011, and I’m okay with that.

So Back to the Question: How Long Does it take to Lose Fitness?

Something I learned a while ago is there are two “types” of fitness:

  1. Aerobic fitness which is essentially your endurance!
  2. Structural fitness which is the ability of your body to withstand the impact of running. (Essentially why you can’t go from not running to running 10 miles all of the time without an injury…)

Both are equally as important, but they are both different.

Aerobic Fitness:

For most runners, it takes between 1-2 weeks of full rest (doing zero things) to lose fitness.  Doing any cardio whether it’s biking, elliptical, swimming…whatever will keep your aerobic fitness going.  Since I’ve been doing random things, I haven’t lost 100%.  To be realistic, I’ve probably lost about half.

There are many factors of how fast you lose your aerobic fitness.  For instance, the longer you’ve been doing something, the longer it takes to lose that fitness.  Someone who ran for a month and stops, loses fitness much faster than someone who has been running for a decade.

It’s also important to note you can’t be in peak fitness forever and you shouldn’t try too.  If you never take time off, your body will get hurt, and you’ll be forced to take time off.  Which leads us to structural fitness!

Structural Fitness

We all know I’m injury prone, so this is the fitness I care personally more about.  You can regain your aerobic fitness with proper training and build up.  You cannot recover your body once you have permanently damaged it.  Structural fitness is what keeps your body healthy and injury free.  It can take months to years to gain this type of fitness, but at the same token, it can take months to years to also lose it.

When you don’t use certain muscles, your body loses them.  (This isn’t limited to running.)  As many readers know, I swam for nearly 15 years before starting running.  If you asked me to swim now…well…LOL.

Even if you choose to stop running entirely, doing a little bit of strength can keep those muscles stronger.   When returning to running, it’s important to watch and monitor your body.  Don’t go out for a long run your first week back.  Don’t jump into old training methods and don’t expect your body to be as strong for the activities you were once doing.

Ease slowly into running to build strength as well as function in your muscles.  It can be difficult (yes even for me!), but it definitely keeps you more injury free.

In short, fitness isn't built in a day and it's also not lost in a day.  Your fitness journey spans the course of your life and it's important not to get caught up in a single week, month or even year.

Related Posts:
Racing My Way to Fitness
Quick Core Ideas for Runners
Five Tips for Coming Back after an Injury
The Importance of Easing Back into Training

Questions for you:
How often do you take rest periods?
When was the last time you fully rested? 

July Workouts

Where to begin about July?

Maybe with a LOL.

Weekly workout logs are one thing but reflecting upon a month of no real “training” is weird. Am I a runner? Am I a running blogger?  Do I just Instagram?

In June, I had all of the intentions to start running again.  Life happens and that went on the backburner.  Am I cool with that?  Yes, my body is just resting from heavy training a lot longer than I ever imagined.

At this point, I’m barely able to keep record of my own training log.  My running might be like a bad train wreck you may or may not be able to look away.  That’s cool though, I’ll get back to serious training and crushing PRs at some point soon in my life.  While I said this last month, I do anticipate August to be busy and September, not as much.

Moving forward, the month of July was laid back as far as training went.  I ran when I could.  I was able to run more outside than I previous ly anticipated but nothing more than 5 miles.  In fact, I think the last time I ran more than 8 miles in a row was before April.

First and foremost, I am happy.  Life is going fine and I’m enjoying everything that has kept me busy.

Something I did not anticipate, is it is hard to explain not wanting to run.  When I tell someone I’m not running, they immadiately ask if I’m injured.  Followed with am I pregnant. I’m not injured, pregnant, or whatever else.  I

I’m not injured, pregnant, or whatever else.  I prioritize other things and when I’m not busy volunteering and working, I’m living life.

I could wake up at 4, go for a run and be out my door between 5-6.  Be gone for anywhere between 10-14 hours.  Then come home and do it again.  But honestly, that doesn’t sound pleasent and I still wouldn’t be training well.  So I choose not to.

July Stats: 
Miles Run: 90 (about, my Garmin is now on 3 months of not being charged)
AlterG Miles Run: 30
Cross Training Sessions: 4
Favorite Workout:
Hiking Stairway to Heaven

Posts from the Month:
How to Choose the Best Running Shoes (For You!)
Hiking the Stairway to Heaven
Staying Fit While Not Training
Brooks Ghost 10 Shoe Review
Staying Prepared on Long Days
Running on the AntiGravity Treadmill

Personal: 
Flying through NYC
27 Facts about Me

Goals of August:

I posted on twitter but I want to jump into a local 5k this month.  I haven’t picked one out and I don’t expect any miracles but I would like to just run a race and get my feet back in the water.  Now, that I’m more aware of my schedule I also plan to consistently run.  I’m hoping I can begin to build a base.  My goal is to run 45 minutes/5 miles most days.

Questions for you:
How was your training in July?
Are you getting ready for anything? 

 

How to Choose the Best Running Shoes (For You!)

As someone who works in a running shoe store, I can tell you I’ve personally fit about 1000 people for running shoes, and I’ve watched hundreds more be fit too.

Searching for your own personal shoes can be tough.  What do you look for?  How do you know when they are “right”?

When searching for running shoes, I always advise people to get fitted at their local running store.  Thinking out loud, people that work in a running store have seen dozens of brands, styles, and companies. Plus they know shoes well.  That being said, you know your feet.  You know what feels most comfortable.

Most people come in and have no idea what to look for in a running shoe. 

The short answer: Does it feel good? 

Yes, then it’s the right shoe for you.

No?  Then it’s not the right shoe for you.

The Long Answer:

Here are some important details you should look for in shoes.

Size (Length): 

I cannot emphasize this enough.  Do not buy your shoes too small.  During the day, your feet can swell and lengthen anywhere from a half-full size.  This is magnified during running!  Always make sure there is a thumb’s width of space between your biggest toe and the end of the shoe.

Yes, your feet lengthen over time and age so make sure you get your measured frequently.  After putting your shoes on, make sure you can wiggle all of your toes.  If you can’t the shoe is too tight or too narrow.  This brings us to point number 2.

Size (Width): 

The width of a shoe is one of the most underlooked aspects of a shoe.  Most running specialty stores carry at least wide if not double wide!  Do not be scared to go into a wider shoe.  If you are getting holes on the side of your shoe from your pinkie toe, this could be a sign the shoe is too narrow.  Having extra room is always better than not enough.  I never knew I needed a wide until working at the store.  Now, I love it.

Heel: 

In any running shoe, your heel should feel both snug and secure.  It should never feel tight.  If you feel as though you are “slipping,” lace your shoe to the final eyelet. This will you’re your heel more into place.  Some shoes are cut lower than others but make sure you’re comfortable in the cut of the back too.

The heel should never feel tight, but there can be a little bit of movement.  If the heel feels uncomfortable in the store, then it won’t feel good while running.

Feel:

You can be fit into the appropriate shoe but it doesn’t feel good, it doesn’t.  How a shoe feels to you is one of the most important aspects of the shoe.  You want a shoe that feels natural.  You don’t want a shoe that “you’ll have to get used too”.  Don’t get a shoe to alter to your stride because that can create many more issues.  Running Stores recommend taking the shoe for a quick run in the store.  That initial few steps often can tell you an immediate yes or no.  Also, most running stores have an exchange policy to work with you.

With so many different shoes out there, it can be hard to figure out which one is “best for you”.  Remember, there is no right or wrong answer but only what feels good and keeps you injury free.

Other Running Store Topics:
Thoughts While Working at a Running Store
How to Get the Most Shopping at a Running Specialty Store
Should You Wear Running Shoes Outside of Running?
How to Find the Perfect Pair of Running Shoes
There is no Perfect Running Shoe

Questions for you:
What is your current favorite running shoe?
When was the last time you bought running shoes?

Staying Fit While not Training

Recently, I’ve been running about 20-30 miles a week.  I’m not training for anything and depending on my schedule, many of my miles are indoors.  This week when I have the most time, of course, it’s been over 90 degrees most days. That is fine, I’m not a pace oriented person and the only time I’ve charged my Garmin in the last few months was for hiking.

Thinking out loud, I’ve been running for just about 6 years now.  Usually, you can find me training for something, racing a few times a month, or injured. Right now, I’m doing none of those things. I rarely just take “me” time, and I never burned out until April.

Most weeks, though, I’m just busy.  As a blogger, it can be tough to find: “stuff to talk about” when you are working for most of the time.

As I mentioned, I’ve just been busy.  This summer has been extremely enjoyable and not much of that has to do with running.  Recently, I went flying around NYC with my husband but we’ve done a lot of fun and unique stuff.

What I have been trying to do is get about 30 minutes of exercise in most days of the week.  Whether that is running, going to a class, or just taking a walk with my husband, I want to get some sort of fitness in!

As athletes we often feel as though we have to be “hardcore training” or doing absolutely nothing and resting.  I’m all for rest days, and I believe resting in general is undervalued but it doesn’t have to be the all or noting concept.

Usually 30 minutes of activity is better than none.  Of course, there are exceptions (if you are tired, sick, injured, etc.) but it’s all about balance.

Here are just a few things I’ve been trying to incorporate into my week:

  • Planning Ahead: Right now, I don’t always know what will pop up in my day or even week. I can plan ahead and know at least on weekends, I can get a longer run or activity in.
  • Staying Flexible: As I mentioned, I don’t always know whether I’ll be able to have time to run until halfway through the day. I try to keep clean exercise gear in my car.  If it means running inside, running on the AlterG treadmill, or running when it’s hot, that is fine.  It’s also fine when there just isn’t enough time in the day.  I try not to make that a habit but I don’t get bent out of shape when there isn’t time to workout.
  • Catch up on TV and Run Indoors: Yes, I have a few guilty TV pleasures (including America’s Got Talent). If I can get everything done throughout the day, I dedicate the time to watching TV and running.  The run goes by quickly, and I actually get to run.
  • Focus on Eating Better: Since I’m not running as much, eating better is a priority. When I do eat better, I feel as though I have more energy and can accomplish more too.  Like fitness, it’s not all or nothing but I have been focus and prioritize on eating better.  I’m not strict or counting calories but I try and grab an apple versus a bag of cookies.  I’ll save the desserts for the diner.

Running and fitness doesn’t have to be all or nothing.  You can stay active without training for anything.  Don’t get me wrong, I look forward to being a little less busy and picking out a goal race, but that time isn’t now.

Other Related Posts: 
Quick Core Ideas for Runners
NonRunning Workout Ideas

Questions for you:
How do you stay active with a busy schedule?
Are you training for anything now?

Running on an AntiGravity Treadmill

Since posting on Instagram about running on the anti-gravity treadmill, better known as the Alter-G, many people have asked to write about my experience on there!

The Alter-G is a great tool that I am fortunate to have access too.  You can see a full list of Alter-Gs near you or in your area.  If you’re Philadelphia or Southern New Jersey local, the one I’ve been using is it at RunningCo. Of Haddonfield.

Alter G is not paying me or sponsoring this post is anyway.

Like many runners, when I have the time I like to run outside. I’m no stranger to the Alter-G and have used it recovering from a few injuries. Injury recovery is probably the most well-known reason to use it, but it’s not the reason I’m using it now.

As I’ve mentioned, I’m busy for a few weeks and running outside is not always an option unless I want to run in midday in 90 degrees.  Since I don’t, my choices are run on a regular treadmill, run on the Alter-G or don’t run. Because I also don’t know what each day is going to bring, my training could also be all over the place.  One week, I could have time for 70 miles.  The next week, only 20.  Drastic changes in mileage would create an injury.   So, I settled on running on the Alter-G.  I’ll still get a workout in and retain muscle memory.  However, I won’t put as much stress as my body.

As I mentioned, many people use the Alter-G to run while recovering from an injury.  There are a few great articles and case studies of how elite runners have trained on the Alter-G during recovery.   Many professional runners also use the Alter-G to keep stress off their bodies, so they are less injury prone.

You can run anywhere between 20% body weight and 100% body weight.

Here are just a few benefits with the anti-gravity treadmill for runners:

  • Physical therapy following an injury to a lower extremity (like the feet or legs)
  • Prolong your running career by building leg strength without the full impact on your body
  • Maintain and develop cardiovascular fitness while injured or away from sports.
  • Run longer and recover faster with less pain
  • Gradually progress and easily adjust the intensity of your workout
  • Change your running form without becoming more injury prone.

So What Exactly Happens?

You put on a pair of specialty pants, step into the Alter-G and allow it to calibrate to your body weight.  From there you can adjust to how much weight you would like to run at.  You can run anywhere from 20% body weight to 100%.

Right now, I feel between 60-70% is a good number for me.  After the machine calibrates, you just run.  You can do anything that you do on a normal treadmill including hills or speed.  I have seen several local elite runners do workouts on it and some people (like myself) just prefer to Netflix and run.

So Why Have I Chosen to Go This Route This Summer?

It’s not a secret I’m injury prone.  Due to my form, I stress my metatarsals more than the average person.  When my training becomes inconsistent, I get injured. As I mentioned, since I am busy this summer, I can’t guarantee I’ll be able to consistently run.

That isn’t because I don’t want to run but because I don’t have the time.  For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been out of the house from 6 am-7 pm.  Sometimes I have a couple of empty hours in the middle of the day, but at that point, it’s 90+ degrees.  I would prefer to run inside anyways.  Thinking out loud, it just makes the most sense right now to use the Alter-G and not overly stress my body.

Incase you missed Monday’s training log, I posted a short video about going through the process.  (And yes, I do make random comments like that frequently)…

Related Posts:

NonRunning Workout Ideas

I don’t hate the treadmill

Questions for you:

Have you ever used an Alter G treadmill?

What are your tips for getting workouts in while busy?  (I could use some!)