Base Training

Rick Plank Winter Training

Our close California friend, Rick Plank putting in base miles at Rockefeller Park during his holiday visit to New York in 2005.

It’s base training period here in the Northeast United States. I haven’t posted for awhile mostly because after our experience with Wally I didn’t know where to start. I’ve decided to table that discussion for awhile, and for those who have shown so much interest and support, both Cindy and I thank you profusely. A proper acknowledgment will follow but for now, let’s get back to improving our daily performance on the roads, and hopefully that will also help us improve our performance off them as well.

Given that outside my home office window I am looking at a wonderfully wintery mix of white snow on top of ice, currently being covered by rain and sleet, I know you can’t wait to get outside and begin your base training.

The fun part of this post is that I don’t have to do much of the work. What inspired me to write this post was a perfect storm of inquiries from some of my friends and announcements from fellow bloggers and podcasters.

To begin with, Javier sent me a post from his blog Operation Ironman which included a post from his coach on the importance of base training. I provided him with some feedback as I felt that his coach may have been spreading on the peanut butter a little too broadly. That said, I emphasized that over distance or what we call Commute Pace training is extremely important at this stage as this is the time when we train our bodies to use fat more efficiently and develop the foundation for our spring running events.

Saturday, December 15, 2007

About Base training

The following is right from my coaches Blog( Johnhirsh.org) it is regarding the need to stick with Base training during the base phase.

It’s important to note that base training contains two critical factors.

  1. run at your Commute and sometimes frustratingly slow pace. During base a much higher percentage of your runs should be at this pace, as high as 90%, and
  2. frequency and consistency is more important than duration or intensity. The second part of this, “intensity” was handled in the first point, but understand that this is the time to train your body to build the aerobic power centers of your muscles. Going out to run once or twice a week at Commute pace is not going to help create the benefits your seek. More runs, more frequently and more consistently at a slow relaxed pace are prescribed during this period.
  3. I know I said there were only two points, but given that this is my blog, I’ll use my creative rights to add a third which applies to the multi-sport junkies. This period is also the time to focus on your weaknesses, not your strengths. If you are a superb runner, focusing on running during this time is not an effective investment. Use this time to focus on developing technique and skills on your weaker disciplines so that when you emerge along with the spring weather your weaknesses have become your strengths.

Continuing on, Dr. Monte Ladner called me up to do an interview on cross training for his wildly popular podcast Fitness Rocks. That interview is up and entitled, appropriately Fitness Rocks Podcast 076, Cross Training with Coach Adam. If you can get past the annoying “um’s” that I use all too frequently, it’s actually a pretty good refresher and completely applicable to base training period.

Sat, 15 December 2007

Fitness Rocks Podcast 076

Cross Training with Coach Adam
This week on Fitness Rocks Podcast 076 we talk to Adam Krajchir, the founder of Race With Purpose, about cross-training. Adam is an exercise physiologist with a great deal of experience training elite athletes and ordinary athletes like the rest of us.

Lastly, another familiar podcaster Steve Runner took the week off and let John Ellis of the Bill Rogers Running Center take over his Phedippidations podcast and discuss, you guessed it, Base Training.

Phedippidations 126: Base Training

This week’s guest host: John Ellis, back at the Bill Rodgers Running Center back after a successful winter of base training yielded a 3:35 performance at the Boston Marathon in 2005.


The basic concept of base training strikes many runners like a brain-teaser game: how can running slowly now help us to achieve better performances later in the year? It is particularly challenging to go from the relative intensity of pre-race workouts to a speed and pace that is much, much slower. However, if you come to the realization that many runners stagnate on a plateau of performances because they run too few miles, and these miles that they do run are are run too fast, then you open yourself up to the possibility of significant running improvement. Proper base training requires patience and discipline, and this week’s guest host, Steve’s running advisor John Ellis, explains how the hard part of this period of training comes with the dedication to running “easy.”

If you’ve been reading my blog or have been around Race with Purpose with any consistency, you’ll already know that I’m of the belief that training is about 60% science and 40% art, although many coaches and programs would lead you to believe the proportions are much more weighted to the science side of the equation, in part because they have invested lifetimes and careers in studying said science. As an exercise physiologist, I can debate the research with the best of them, but at the end of the day, what matters is what happens when an athlete toes the line at a race, and in optimizing that experience, I believe that whatever we so-called-experts say or write needs to be tailored to the preferences, physiology, personality, lifestyle and experiences of the individual athlete. Blanket scientific theories will help to explain a lot, but it is in the sharing of the supported opinions and experiences of all of us that we improve. And in this virtual community internet world of Web 2.0, it is the sharing of our own experiences that individuals living thousands of miles apart, can see there own issues through the lenses of others.

Therefore without further ado, I point you to these three terrific resources and encourage you to read Javier’s About Base Training post first, then listen to Phedippidations Episode 126: Base Training next and finally if you’d like to round it out with a few cross training “how’s”, listen to my Cross Training with Coach Adam interview with Dr. Monte on Fitness Rocks to help you personalize the experience for yourself.

Enjoy and remember to wear bright clothing so you don’t blend in with the snow. Most importantly, when you do need to drive, please drive slowly and remember that animals were here long before us and they can’t read street signs.