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What does "base" really mean? (Read 912 times)

    Hello all! I've been reading this site and others for a few months now and often hear people referring to base building or running base miles but I can't grasp exactly what it means. Is it just a term used to describe a stage when you're not training for any race in particular? Or does it mean a mileage that you are comfortable running consistently? Or both? Or something entirely different? I was training for a 10k earlier this fall and completed my program in November. Since then I have continued to stick with the plan and keep increasing my Sunday long runs. I am now up to 8 (hopefully 9 this weekend). Am I now in a base building period since "the plan" is complete? Is my base mileage 8 miles? And, if I am in a base building period right now, what should I do? I run 4 days a week right now with one day of spinning. Should I stick to that and keep increasing my long run, therefore building my "base"? I am beginning a half marathon program in mid February...so will I be in a base period until that training begins? Sorry, this is probably an extremely stupid question for most of you. I've read a couple running books but never really come across this term referred to in the way I see it here. BTW - I am sort of a CR immigrant. I say sort of b/c I never really found my niche over there and primarily used it for logging miles. I hope to meet and learn from you kind folks! I like beer (and have boobs) so I might fit in rather well over here!
      From my understanding, base building (or running base miles) means running a lot of miles at a good aerobic pace. It's supposed to build endurance and stamina. The theory is that you can keep adding to this base and it will keep growing year after year. It's all about aerobic development, in the long-term this is where most of your gains will be made. Your ability to develop the anaerobic system is much more limited. When to train each system is a different story, some recommend building up a good base first, others will train them simultaneously, etc. Again, this is just my understanding (mainly from reading the work of Arthur Lydiard) and there might be other interpretations of what base building means. http://lydiardfoundation.org/training/understandinglydiardmethod.html
      Scout7


      CPT Curmudgeon

        I agree with RT for that definition. Here's the thing: it's just a term. Many people have different definitions of it, and it can be completely unclear. Generally, one has to look at things from a periodization approach. There are different training phases or cycles, and the focus of those different cycles varies. There will be a race phase, a speed phase, a strength phase, and a general aerobic or base phase (titles may vary depending on who you ask/read). Without getting too complex, base phase is like RT described: the primary focus is on developing your general aerobic capabilities. This stage is marked by increasing mileage, and will generally have a higher overall volume than other phases. However, the overall effort level is generally lower. Exactly how you structure this training will vary. I've seen people who do nothing but easier running, and do a big amount of miles, I've seen it where people cut some of the miles in favor of doing a tempo run once or twice a week. What you do specifically is going to based on your goals and current abilities. As for base phase being targeted or not, I would opine that yes, it IS specific to a race. Plotting out when your goal races are is key in building a plan to follow. For a newer runner, the base building phase is going to look different for a 5k versus a marathon. That differentiation will decrease as the runner becomes more experienced, however. Sorry for the novel. Hope this helps.


        Dave

          I follow, sort of loosely, the training method described by Parker in his Heart Monitor training book. His base building is a period of training where you stick almost exclusively with low intensity running under 70% of your max heart rate. I view it as the time where you build up your body's soft tissue that helps it take the pounding of the increased mileage as well as building the types of muscle fibers that burn more fat that glycogen for longer distance efforts. When I go too fast, too frequently, I usually end up injured and having to take time off. Base building lets you build fitness without injury and builds up your base of fitness so that you peak for races. I have to admit, I've never really stuck with strictly staying with only easy pace runs. probably cheating myself but I just don't seem to have the discipline to keep myself from a few faster paced efforts mixed in.
          I ran a mile and I liked it, liked it, liked it.

          dgb2n@yahoo.com


          Another Passion

            BTW - I am sort of a CR immigrant. I say sort of b/c I never really found my niche over there and primarily used it for logging miles. I hope to meet and learn from you kind folks! I like beer (and have boobs) so I might fit in rather well over here!
            Welcome, Amber! I think you will find a niche here in no time at all. I'm not partial to beer anymore as I was not a "responsible drinker" as Budweiser would disclaim, but I do like my wife's boobs and, am one most of the time. Anyway, I have nothing to add to the wealth of wisdom you have gotten from all these fart smellers.... errr, I mean smart fellers. Dems sum purty brite folkz round here. Hey, by the way, I see you're from Baltimore. Our esteemed Trishie is from Baltimore as well and is an awesome runner. Perhaps you could hunt her down in the threads sometime and introduce yourself. She just recently passed the Mass. state bar exam! Go Trishie! Again, welcome and I hope you find this place to your liking. Wink

            Rick
            "The will to win means nothing without the will to prepare." - Juma Ikangaa
            "I wanna go fast." Ricky Bobby
            runningforcassy.blogspot.com

            TheProFromDover


            TheProFromDover

              ...I have to admit, I've never really stuck with strictly staying with only easy pace runs. probably cheating myself but I just don't seem to have the discipline to keep myself from a few faster paced efforts mixed in.
              I don't think you need to be fanatical about these things. If you're happy, then ...you're happy. Just monitoring thread in a case a debate breaks out. Can't really add much to what's been said. Criag
              -Craig ced53 at yahoo dot com
                Thanks for all the info guys! It seems that I've pretty much been in a base building period all along since I never really did any speed work 'cept for maybe a few fartleks. Hopefully by this spring I'll feel comfortable with my distances and aerobic fitness and start incorporating some hills, tempos, etc. Rvelich - Thanks for the warm welcome! I will have to hunt Trishie down - looks like we have a lot in common!
                  Good info above. To keep in simple, base building builds your aerobic foundation. With a strong aerobic foundation you race best. It doesn't necessarily mean high miles because we all are different. My base building is 20 miles per week. The purpose is to build your aerobic system, stamina, tendon/ligament strength etc. so when race season comes, you are prepared to add in some faster work and have the foundation to work off of. It is the cake. When race season approaches, the speed work is the icing. Many people focus on doing too much fast work which negatively affects base. They will improve short term but regress long term. For the most part it is building and maintaining miles with the majority of them being at 75% or lower of max HR. BUT, there is nothing wrong with mixing in slow tempo run and striders year round. Many people think you shouldn't do this. I agree if a beginner focus on just miles but once you have a year of training under your belt, you need to keep the tempo work and striders/Fartleks year round. You just limit the time and don't go anaerobic. This is how you improve year to year. Note: volume varies on level of runner and miles per week.

                  Those who try, fail! Those who do what it takes to succeed, succeed!!