Build your running base

Build your running base!

from Chester Tri coach, Shaun Jackson

With it being winter and no races for the foreseeable future, is it time to build your running base?

Using your friend google, you can find plenty of scientific papers as well as thoughts and opinions from other athletes; almost without exception there seems to be agreement that if you run more you will be faster than if you run less.

The benefits of running more at a conversational level (zone 2) are significant and include:

  1. Allowing your body to build more mitochondria, which allows more oxygen to be transported to and from the muscles. General improvement in aerobic fitness.
  2. Improving strength of muscles, ligaments and tendons to support future faster running. It prepares the body for running faster and the more miles that are run slowly the more fast miles the body can tolerate when the time comes.
Whether you currently run 10miles a week or 60 miles a week there are some fairly universally accepted principles for building your running mileage in a safe way, reducing the risk of injury and allowing you to make the most of the speed work blocks that you can add into your training plan when you are ready.

The Plan

All of the running below should be at an effort level or pace whereby if you were running with a partner you could have some kind of conversation, don’t get breathless. if you run using heart rate, pace or power it should be in zone 2. (It is possible that this effort level could be a bit of a run / walk, depending on your current fitness).
  1. Be honest with yourself, how many miles a week do you currently run and across how many sessions. (feel free to use time or miles as your reference point)
  2. Stick with that consistently for 3 weeks, if you already have then you can move on to step 3.
  3. Increase your mileage every 3 weeks by 1 mile or equivalent time for each running session you do, foe example if you currently run 3x5miles a week making a total of 15 miles then after 3 weeks you could add a total of 3 miles to your weekly amount, meaning that you could run 3×6 miles.
  4. At some point you will want to split your mileage into more sessions. Make sure each session is a minimum of half an hour or you spend more time getting changed and showering than running.
  5. Below is an example table showing one potential way to increase mileage over 16 weeks for a runner starting at 15miles per week who has run 15 miles per week for at least the last 3 weeks.
  6. If you get bored just running, why not try creating some strava art or try to cover every road in your town, village or city.

Remember, If at any point you feel sore or injured then don’t run.

Increasing your mileage at this level should enable you to safely run more and longer allowing you to reap greater benefits later in the year from speedwork as your body will be stronger enabling you to both run faster and do more of it.

Week Total Mileage Session 1 Session 2 Session 3 Session 4 Session 5
1 15 5 5 5
2 18 6 6 6
3 18 6 6 6
4 18 6 6 6
5 21 6 5 5 5
6 21 6 5 5 5
7 21 6 5 5 5
8 25 6 6 6 7
9 25 6 6 6 7
10 25 6 6 6 7
11 29 7 7 7 8
12 29 7 7 7 8
13 29 7 7 7 8
14 33 7 7 7 7 5
15 33 7 7 7 7 5
16 33 7 7 7 7 5