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What is Base Building, and How Can You Use It to Set Yourself Up For Future Race Success?

base building mindset and motivation running Aug 02, 2022

Many people think that base building just means running more miles, but this is an incomplete idea that ignores other aspects of your running foundation.  This often leads to suboptimal performance, frustration over lack of progress, feeling exhausted, or not peaking at the right time for the best race performance.  


There are 3 things you must keep in mind when building your base for a race, and other considerations beyond mileage that you have to take into account.  


Know Where You’ve Been


So many runners treat their training cycles as independent of each other and tend to just jump from one race training cycle to the next.  This leads to a lot of work, without the reward of a PR that they are seeking.  


They often train hard for a race, run it, then stay in limbo for a while, until they pick their next race.  During that limbo period, they often run without structure, which unfortunately leads to declines in their fitness and a loss of some of the gains that they just made during their last cycle.  


By knowing where we have been, we can use previous cycles to our advantage to prepare us for greater success in subsequent cycles.  Mental benefits always carry over, and depending on the length of time between cycles, physical benefits can also carry over if planned correctly.  For example, you could decide to improve your speed in the 10k as a build up to enter a half marathon training cycle.  


In thinking about where you’ve been, it’s also important to note any injury history.  Building your base could include increasing your strength before jumping into race training.  If you know your areas of weakness and take time to improve those, you will set yourself up for more success with less risk of injury during your race training cycle.  


Know Where You Are


So many runners don’t have an accurate assessment of where they currently stand in their running journey.  Instead of accurately assessing this, they base their training mileage and paces on what they’ve done previously, even if it was several months prior. This can lead to frustration and either overtraining or undertraining, because their training paces are not based on their current fitness level.  


If you’ve had a race within a month of your current training cycle, that is an accurate representation of your current level.  If not, it is a good idea to perform a run test, as well as strength and mobility assessments to see where you currently stand.  That way, you can base your current training on your current abilities, which will lead to the best outcomes.  


Know Where You Want to Go


A mistake that many runners make is starting race-specific workouts too early in their training cycle, which can lead to peaking too early and feeling flat on race day.  


It’s important to remember that the further away from race day you are, the less race-specific your workouts should be.  For example, if you are training for a fast 5k, , the beginning of the cycle would focus more on slower, longer mileage that progresses to faster, shorter mileage closer to the race.  That way your body is gaining both the benefits of longer training, while honing in on the specific goal you want to achieve.  


By keeping these three elements in mind, you can build a strong base to allow you to PR in your next race. 


Now get out there and run your life.


For more on this, check out episode 263 of the Real Life Runners Podcast!

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