The Importance of Base Training

March 13, 2017

There’s no way around it, the importance of base training and running mileage year-round is crucial for getting faster and becoming a stronger runner.

In 2011, here were my 10K, half marathon, and marathon times:

Pirate 10K 45:03

Skinny Raven Half-Marathon -1:39

Mayor’s Marathon – 3:44

The next summer in 2012, I set new PRs in all 3 distances. I didn’t improve by a few seconds but several minutes in each distance.

Alaska 10K Classic – 41:49 (3+ minute PR)

Trent/Waldron Glacier Half-Marathon – 1:31 (8 minute PR)

Grandma’s Marathon – 3:26 (18 minute PR)

 Twin Cities Marathon – 3:21 (5 minute PR from Grandma’s)

The I took some time off to have a baby, recover, and came back even stronger in 2015 and 2016:

Pulsator 10K – 40:09 (1 minute, 40 second PR)

Trent/Waldron Glacier Half-Marathon – 1:24 (7 minute PR)

Moose’s Tooth Marathon – 3:06 (15 minute PR)

Screen shot 2015-08-17 at 2.47.58 PM

The main reason for these huge improvements: more base miles during the winter. There’s no way around it, I had these improvements because I ran more during the off-season, which gave me a stronger base going into the spring and summer months.

Since college–which was over 10 years ago–I’ve run year-round. However, I haven’t always run a lot of mileage during the off-season. In 2011, I would run about 40 – 50 miles a week during the winter months, but then in 2012, I bumped that up to 60 and 70 mile weeks. I also started doing interval and tempo workouts during the winter months in 2012. (Previously I hadn’t done then until the snow melted outside, which was usually April.) I then had another bump in mileage last winter. Last year at this point in my training, I was running 70 and 80 miles a week, which brought me into being in the best shape of my life last summer.

There is a tipping point, though, when too much mileage becomes detrimental and causes injury. For each person that tipping point is different, so proceed with caution and listen to your body. But no matter what distance you are training for: the 5K, half marathon, marathon, ultra–it is crucial to have a good, strong, solid base.

3 Comments
    1. I’ve found most of my improvement after maintaining a year round base, too. It doesn’t have to be running only either, hiking, or some other higher intensity cardio and pounding has worked for me. I think I’m hitting a ceiling right now, my body starts to fall apart if I go over 70mpw. What was your total for each of those years?

      1. I finally took the time to look! However, I couldn’t find my training log for 2011, so it doesn’t really help. :/ I must not have kept track?? Although, I thought I had kept track for the past 10 or so years. Oh well, here’s what I do have: 2012 – 2281 miles, 2013 – 2133 miles, 2014 (pregnancy + baby), 2015 – 2494 miles, 2016 – 2031 miles (had an injury for half the year in 2016)

    1. Wow – your progress is impressive! I’m wondering if I’ve been dipping too long in my winter off season. I run year round, but usually between my fall target race and the beginning of my spring training I pull back. So far I haven’t seen huge improvements year over year, so perhaps this could be one missing link for me.

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