REAL-LIFE RUNNERS: EPISODE 263 – WHAT YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT BASE BUILDING
ANGIE: Hey, everybody. Thank you so much for joining us on episode number 263 of the Real-Life Runners podcast. Today we're going to talk about how to set yourself up for race success through base building. Many people think that base building just means running more miles, but this is an incomplete definition that ignores other aspects of your running foundation. This often leads to sub optimal performance, frustration over lack of progress, feeling exhausted, or not peaking at the right time for your best race performance. So, there are three things that you must keep in mind when building your base for a race. So, if you want to know what those things are, keep listening.
KEVIN: This is the Real-Life Runners Podcast, and we are your hosts, Kevin and Angie Brown. Thanks for spending some time with us today. Now let's get running.
KEVIN: Hey. So base building, I love this concept behind it. There's a lot of people that may not even know the term behind base building, or if they do, most people associate base building with simply throwing a whole heck of a lot of miles at it.
ANGIE: Do you know where the term even came from? Probably one of them.
KEVIN: Not off the top of my head.
ANGIE: Okay. One of the legendary running coaches
KEVIN: I mean, my first thought leans towards litter because his system kind of broke it down of there was an opening phase with a large amount, like most people say, oh, it's high miles, but he had cycles. And the first one was a large amount of slower miles, but it's quote unquote slower. Like, it was still pretty brisk. And then from that it moved into his hills bounding phase, and then it moved into an insane amount of repeats on a track. Sure.Then the beginning of that was literally putting a whole lot of miles into it, but it named the cycles, but during each one, it never really ignored a lot of other things. And that's where people try and shortcut often what base building is. Oh, base building means a whole lot of easy miles, and for some people, adding in a whole lot of extra easy miles is a good source of base for them. But for other people, it completely misses the point of what they're currently lacking as their running foundation.
ANGIE: Yeah, I mean, I think that most people, especially the Real life runners, the recreational runners that we like to talk to, right. We're not talking in most cases, to professional runners. Professional runners have a different way to train. I believe that we need to take some of what professional runners do and apply it to our lives, but we still have to take into account, like we have other lives outside of running that professional runners might not also have. Right. Some of them do, some of them don't. But they can structure their training differently than most of us that have fulltime jobs and other things going on.
KEVIN: I mean, there's a different lifestyle. But there's also, like, you can't ignore the fact that professional runners are running at different paces.
KEVIN: So, their ability to accomplish 10 miles is very different timeline than other people's ability to accomplish 10 miles. And you can't just dismiss them and be like, oh, well, it's 10 miles on their schedule. I'll put 10 miles on my schedule. Those are completely different things in terms of how the body's reacting, how long that takes, how much difficulty that is. For someone running 140 miles a week, going out on a ten mile might be like, oh, it's my relaxing second run of the day. Whereas other people are like, hey, I did a ten mile and then I needed to take a nap and I was just wrecked the whole next day.
ANGIE: Yeah. And that's why a lot of times we talk about time-based training versus mileage-based training and how going out and running for 45 minutes or for an hour versus going out with a set mileage that you want to hit can be very beneficial because it's taking what you need to do and just putting somewhat of a cap on it. Right. Like you said, those professional runners are out there running 10 miles, but they're probably running them in around an hour, right. Like, at the pace that they're going.
KEVIN: they're going to work out
ANGIE: but they're going to be around that hour mark, right. Versus some of us might take more like 2 hours to run 10 miles.
ANGIE: That's a very different stress on the body. That's very different with what your body is going to need to do in order to recover from that run just because of the length of time that you're out there. So that's kind of an unplanned tip of, like, trying to schedule and structure your plan with time versus mileage can actually be very beneficial for a lot of runners.
KEVIN: Right. I personally like the combo. If you're trained for a specific race distance, something of a longer race distance, you can't say, all right, I'm going to train for a marathon, but I'm going to cap my runs at an hour and a half.
KEVIN: If you're aiming for a five hour marathon and the longest you've ever gone is an hour and a half, there's going to be an issue, like, you got to get closer to the full 26 miles. But on a day to day, on a weekly basis, I don't think that everyone needs to be, well, I have to make sure I'm getting at least 6 miles in. Maybe you have to be making sure that you get in 45 minutes, maybe somewhere in that 45 to 60 minutes range, whatever that happens to get you that day. We talk so much about taking into account how you feel, the weather, the stress in your own life if you were aiming for a 50 minutes run. And sometimes that gets you 5 miles, but today that got you four and a half. Well, then four and a half was going to be the answer today.
ANGIE: Yeah, but we're kind of getting off topic a little bit here, so let's just kind of pull it back in
KEVIN: Thank you.
ANGIE: and talk more about base building. It wasn't exactly a smooth transition. We're like, okay, let's go back over here. But our topic of the day is base building, right? And so like we said, base building is not just building mileage. There's a lot more that goes into your own personal running foundation and building up a strong running foundation. A lot of that is miles. That's true. We're not ignoring that, right? And like Kevin said, a lot of us can benefit from just adding in some extra easy miles, extra time on our feet, especially those of us that tend to push a little too hard, tend to push more into that medium to moderate range. Adding truly easy mileage is actually very beneficial for a whole lot of reasons, and we've talked about those in previous episodes. So today we kind of want to go through these three things that we want you to keep in mind when building up your base for a race. If you've got a race, especially if it's a distance that you've never covered before. Even if you have covered that, you can still kind of build your base up before you jump into a race training cycle. And that can be very, very beneficial. So first thing we want you to keep in mind is to know where you have been, use what you've already done to your advantage. Because a lot of times we tend to ignore our personal running history. Like we say, okay, I'm going to train for this half marathon. Now I'm going to jump into this cycle. And a lot of times we don't really think about what we've done in the past. Sometimes we do, or it's kind of like an afterthought, right? But a lot of times people will treat their training plans as independent from one another. Right now I'm going to train for a half marathon, and I'm going to train for a 10K or a 5K. And what happens if you do this, if you kind of treat your training plans as independent of each other and kind of race hop our training plan, like just jump from plan to plan to plan. A lot of times what we see is that there's a lot of work, but there's no reward. Like, you don't end up getting that PR that you've really been hoping for and working for, because a lot of times people will train for a race and then they'll kind of have this in between period, right.
ANGIE: Where they kind of
KEVIN: the gray zone
ANGIE: Because a lot of people think that they need a race on the calendar in order to stay consistent. We've heard that so many times. I just need to find a race because right now I'm not consistent.And if I have a race on the calendar, then I will actually go out and run. And so what happens is during that, say, twelve-week period that they're training for a race, they will be consistent. Right. They'll notice that they're gaining in their fitness and then they run the race. And then they kind of have this downtime. And don't get us wrong, downtime after a race is a very good thing, especially if it's a longer race.
KEVIN: Yeah. Post-race recovery, is totally on the roof.
ANGIE: But that length of recovery is different for every person and for every race distance. Right. So you don't want that recovery to just kind of like indefinitely start stretching out because what happens then is that you start losing fitness. Right? And so all the fitness that you've built up in that twelve week period during your race training cycle is now kind of starting to fade away. And then you kind of float around, maybe you get some runs in and then you're like, okay, well, I better find another race. And then you pick another race. But by that time, a lot of times the fitness has already started to fade away. Right. So then you have to rebuild up and you jump into that next training cycle and then you rebuild your fitness again through that training plan. But since you declined, that second training cycle isn't really effectively using all the fitness that you built in the first training cycle to progress you forward.
KEVIN: Yeah. So, I mean, there's a big part of that is falling off of your plan because the race ended, then you retired appropriately. So maybe sore following the race and push yourself really hard. So you need a few days, maybe even a couple of weeks to recover, depending on how hard you push, how sore you are and whatever. But you need some logical way to transition from all of that work, all of that benefit that you've gained into the next plan. If you had never run, say, a half marathon, and you just use the last twelve weeks to build yourself from being able to run 5 miles to being able to go out and run 13 miles, and then you went out and raced13 miles, you suddenly don't need to be like, oh man, my long run is probably five. Your race plan for next half marathon does not necessarily need to start at 5 miles. You might be capable of more than that. You don't need to use so much time trying to gradually, slowly progress your ability to run along in your distance week upon week because you're already part ways through. Go back and look at what you’ve gained from the last cycle. Maybe what you're missing now because you’ve been focusing on aiming towards a half marathon, running for a couple of hours. Maybe if you spend a little bit of time keying in, kind of hold on to I can run a decent distance, but key in on maybe now I'm going to focus on a little bit of speed because that's one of the things I'm missing. And I can hold on to that endurance that I’ve managed to build up over the last cycle. It’s a matter of not losing the benefits that you’ve gained from the last one, kind of holding onto those while building up new things. If you're capable of dropping 13 miles and then you don't need to be like, all right, so to get ready for the next one, I want to make sure that I can run 13 miles. You've already checked that box. Just realize you've checked that box before you start the next plan that's focused on trying to increase your mileage build-up.
ANGIE: Yeah, because I think it's important for us to recognize that each training cycle that we go through has a purpose. Right. And there are physical and mental benefits that we gain from each of those cycles. And those things build on each other, right. Both physically and mentally. Like Kevin said, if you had just finished training for your first half marathon and completing your first half marathon, a lot of the mental challenge and physical challenge was building that mileage. But now you've done that. Right. So now what's the next challenge? It's not really the same challenge as where you were, say, three months ago when you were only capable of running 5 miles. Right. You're now capable of running 13 miles. So now would you like to make that 13 miles a little bit faster? Would you like to continue to build and work up towards a marathon distance? Right, but what you can do is you can take all of the physical lessons and all of the mental lessons that you learned during that half marathon training cycle and use them towards your next one. Right. And this is the thing of this is how you can create longer lasting, bigger results in your running. What you can do is you can take these training cycles and stack them on top of each other for you to achieve bigger goals. And if you do so in a very planned out and calculated way, then you're like, for example, I'm going to train for a 10K right now. Right now I'm capable of running 6 miles so I know I can complete a 10K, but maybe right now I want to work on my speed. So I'm going to really focus on getting faster, making my 10K faster. And then once I do that, maybe the next cycle I want to do is building up to that half marathon or that full marathon. Right. So I build some speed during this cycle, and now I'm going to transition to trying to hold on to that speed and then building my endurance. Right. Like what Kevin was saying, you kind of try to hold on to what you've built and then add on the next layer to help you to continue to progress as a runner.
KEVIN: Yeah. And one of the big things that sticks from one training plan to the next is the mental benefits that you gained. Like, if your longest run is five and your goal is to run a half marathon, probably, and I may be wrong with some of our listeners, but I'm guessing that most of our listeners, the biggest mental hurdle is suddenly running double digit miles. That just seems substantial for European runners. Suddenly you're going from being able to run in the teams to over 20 km. When you do it, it just seems like you're cresting a whole other layer. So that's a big mental hurdle going over. Once you've crossed that, it's a whole lot less of a mental challenge to be like, I'm capable of running 13 miles because, you know you are. You've already done it. So the mental challenges hold on. Physical benefits, these guys, you can increase them and lose them at different rates depending on what they are. Some of them build up pretty quickly, but then they also fade somewhat quickly. Some of them take a little bit more time to build up, but because of that, they also kind of fade off a little bit more. Like endurance, for example, it's going to take you three to four weeks to lose a solid endurance bill like base that you've created here.
ANGIE: Can you give us an example?
KEVIN: So if you've trained and you're capable of running 13 miles and you run your half marathon and then you're sore, so then you take the entire next week off, literally don't even run. Like, you just take it off. And then something that you've been pushing off at work because you were focused on keying in for this half marathon now work out really built up. Maybe it was like a destination half marathon. So you've got this pile of stuff that you got to deal with at work now. All right, I'm getting out there and I'm maybe doing like 30 minutes a couple of times a week, maybe three times a week. That happens for a couple of more weeks. Now you're three weeks since your race. You're probably five weeks since your last really long run leading up to the race. You're still fully capable of going out and doing it. Like you can completely go out if you wanted to. It would not feel super comfortable. But your body is fully capable of going out and knocking out 13 miles. It might not feel as great as it would have a month ago, but you're fully capable of doing it. Whereas if you build up to run like your fastest mile ever, you run your PR mile, you go out, you crush it like you're really working on high end speed. And then because of that same scenario, your source, so you take a few days off, then you got stuff that comes up with work or the kids or whatever it is that comes up and there's another two weeks, most of that speed is drastically reduced.
ANGIE: That's so unfortunate, isn't it?
KEVIN: You can build back into it fairly quickly. It's not gone.
ANGIE: So what you're saying is that endurance sticks around longer than speed.
KEVIN: Endurance sticks around longer than speed. But it's also trickier to build backups in speed.
ANGIE: Endurance is trickier to build backups
KEVIN: For most people. There are high adapters in both worlds, and I believe this kind of compares well to you. And I can increase my ability to just keep running, I think, smoother than you can. But if both of us were like, hey, let's see how fast we could run a mile right now, you would get closer to your my PR ability faster than I would get to my PR ability.
ANGIE: You think so?
ANGIE: Well, that's an interesting thing to think about, but it also can show you the power of putting these things on top of each other.
KEVIN: Yes, very much. Which goes to the other point you were covering
ANGIE: Which point?
KEVIN: How do you can springboard one training cycle into the next.
ANGIE: Right. Yeah. So we were talking about like taking a 10K, like building the speed up and that, and then going for longer distances. You can also do the opposite. You can build up like your mileage and even if you're not training for a race, maybe you just want to build some endurance, build some mileage, maybe you want to work up to that ten mile double digit point. Like even though you might not really have a half marathon on your mind right now, right. It's still very important and beneficial for you to build that mileage. This is what we do with our cross-country team. We coach a high school cross country team and we still build them up to have a longer run. Like, every single race that we do in cross country season is a 5K. It's only 3.1 miles for them every single race. But we're building up throughout the course of the summer and the season to be able to runup to like seven or 8 miles. Because having that endurance as a base will help you with those higher end speeds. Not directly, but indirectly. Right. Because when you're building that base and you're building that endurance, you're building your aerobic capacity, which like we've talked about in previous episodes, builds the number of mitochondria that are present in your cell. It's building your capillary network so that we can get blood to those working muscles quicker. It's improving your body's ability to use oxygen and to burn fat and to burn glucose and to burn all these different fuel sources. Right? So your benefits from endurance training will carry over to help you with speed. So this is kind of the classic based building.
KEVIN: It's classic base building.
ANGIE: Classic base building is like since we're talking about cross country, like we'll just talk summer training is classically. Just build up your mileage, build up longer, slower distances over the summer. And then once we hit race season, then we'll get into some of the speed work and speed sessions and all that to help make take those that endurance base that they've built over the summer and now just make them faster. Right. And we can do this as real-life runners too. We can go through a classic base building cycle where we just kind of focus on building and easy mileage and then the closer we get to that race date, you kind of hone in more and do those more race specific and speed based workouts.
KEVIN: Right. But one of the other big principles that we have at real life runners is that we never really ignore anything. So even during the time that you're really focused on building up, if the main focus is I can run 3 miles, but your goal is to be able to run ten even as you work and your key focus and the time that you want to make sure that you're recovered and prepped for your run is your long run. Also, during the week, you're going to have a little bit of speed, you're going to have some strides, you're going to continue to do your strength training and stuff like that. One of the things that people really miss out on during base building is the strength we required to change from being able to run 3 miles to running ten requires a whole heck of a lot of physical strength. Not just cardio endurance of being able to breathe and keep your heart going and the lungs turning for that long, but literally the strength endurance in your legs and back. And all sorts of muscles to be able to support you to be out there for that long.
KEVIN: People kind of skip over that part.
ANGIE: Well, because people think about strength as brute strength a lot of times, right? Like your ability to lift a certain amount of weight is important for us as runners. As runners, it is important for us to actually do like resistance training and lift weights. But there's also something that we need to think about call muscular endurance. Right. There's cardiovascular endurance and then there's also muscular endurance and how resistant your muscles are too fatigue. Like how many contractions are your muscles able to go through before they start getting tired, right? And that's what Kevin is really talking about when it comes to our muscles being able to support us as runners as we increase our distance. It's not really especially when we're talking about distance-based races like the half marathon and the marathon, the amount of actual power and speed that you have, the demand for that is not as great as say, if you were racing a mile or a 5K. You're going to need more speed and power in those shorter distances. But in the longer distances, your muscles need to be able to not fatigue as quickly. And that is strength, that's not just endurance, it's auscular endurance, but it's also the strength of the muscle, the amount of muscles that you're able to recruit. And that's where the power training and that kind of thing comes in and helps to help you in those areas, like with muscular endurance. Because if you have more people doing the same job, I always like to think of it as like lifting up a piece of furniture like a couch. Right. If you have one person or two people trying to lift a couch versus four people, it's going to be much easier for four people to lift a couch and to move it versus just two.And if four people are doing the job, those four people are not going to be as tired. They're going to be able to lift and move more pieces of furniture because they don't fatigue as quickly. So the same thing goes for your muscles. Like the more muscle fibers that you have involved in each muscle contraction, the longer those muscle fibers will last because they're not doing as much work with each lift or with each contraction.
KEVIN: Right. They're also working in a coordinated manner.
KEVIN: If you're trying to get a whole group of people to lift and move a couch, it's all helpful if they know which direction they're going and the one's not trying to steer it the other direction. Yes. The one keeps turning left. No, we're going straight. This guy's like I'm trying to clap along to the beat of the song and the one guy's not clapping correctly. That's not helping your muscles work smoothly together. So stacking these cycles is really key. If you've got a race, then sure, taking a little bit of recovery after a race before jumping into the next one is good as long as that recovery cycle doesn't extend too long. So you can then still use the benefits of one. But if you don't have a race, you point out you could build the endurance and then slide into some speed, or you could build some speed and slide into endurance. That's the whole idea that your foundation, your base building does not just have to be miles. You could work on building speed and then go to building endurance off of that guy.
KEVIN: If you don't have races that are sort of derailing you, then the time I need to make sure that I spend a couple of weeks or a little bit of time on recovery is when it starts feeling pretty oppressive to go out and run. I don't know if I could put together another solid training week. You need some downtime, then your body just needs that. If you race periodically and you're like, I'm pretty sore, I need a few days to recover from this one. It's like naturally built in because it follows race. But if you're like, all right, I'm going to use twelve weeks to just increase how long I can run, and then I'm going to follow that immediately with to see how fast I can run. By the end of those 24 weeks, you might be kind of tired and you might need a little recovery time in there.
ANGIE: Yes. And this is why it's so important to know where you've been, right? This is what we're talking about here in step number one. Knowing where you've been, what foundation do you already have in place that's really important for your future success. You need to know where you've been. And then we're going to go into step two and step three here in a second. But knowing where you've been is super super important. And building up that base, that foundation ahead of time is critical for your success in future races. And this is one of the things that I always try to tell my patients, like people that come in, say, with knee pain, and they're like, well, I'm not sure. My doctor thinks that I might need surgery, I might need a knee replacement, I might need meniscus surgery, whatever a surgery might be. So I don't know if this is worthwhile because I might have to have surgery anyway. And I always tell them, like, it's always worthwhile. It's always worthwhile for you to get stronger even if the outcome ends up being surgery. If you can go into surgery with those muscles being stronger already, knowing the exercises ahead of time. That's why I think that prehab is super important. They've actually done research studies on this that show that people who undergo four weeks of prehab, of going to physical therapy before a total knee replacement, they end up having better outcomes afterwards. And so much of that is because they build up their strength ahead of time, so they get to keep that into surgery with them. They already get to learn some of the exercises so that when they get out of surgery, they already know them. And there's such a thing called muscle memory. Your muscles are able to oh, yeah, I remember this exercise. We did this before, right? So they're able to kind of jump into the rehab exercises more effectively without trying to figure out, how do I do that exercise again? Right.
KEVIN: Which way is my leg supposed to go?
ANGIE: Right. And so if you are in better physical shape prior to the surgery, your outcomes after the surgery are usually going to be much better.
KEVIN: Right. So you carry over what came from before the surgery into post-surgery.
KEVIN: All right, so our second thought here is know where you currently are, recognize your current strengths and weaknesses. This is critical. Not just know where you've come from because you want to make sure that you're carrying over previous stuff, but how much of that are you carrying over? To highlight a little bit of what we said in the first one is how much time has gone. Because different physical traits kind of fade at different rates. They also build back at different rates. So you need to know where you currently are not necessarily your final goal result, but where are you currently at so that you know how to best begin your training plan.
ANGIE: Right. And a lot of the mistakes that we see here are that people, they kind of want to be at that physical goal at the start of the plan. They're like, Well, I want to be able to run a half marathon at this pace. And so they end up trying to do their workouts at the beginning of their plan, at that goal pace. Right. And they often end up leading them to be constantly pushing themselves to be in shape to run a PR. Right. And a lot of times, what happens, instead of actually using that whole cycle to build yourself up, they're kind of using that cycle to try to be in PR race shape right now. Because what they're doing is they're overvaluing where they've been. Right. Instead of continuing to see one thing just, okay, this that builds into this, and this built into this. And they just kind of assume like, okay, well, I've already got all this other stuff, so I should be able to run this right now.
KEVIN: Because you always want to be you want to be that next step right now. I know how fast I'd like to be able to knock out repeats, but one, it's essentially like running on the surface of the sun outside right now. And two, I don't have the speed that I've used to have before.
ANGIE: Well, I think that's also important because I think one of the biggest mistakes that I see here are people that maybe just ran a PR relatively recently, but then they kind of did have that downside that they didn't really account for. So maybe that half marathon that you ran was like three months ago. And you kind of, like, have floated a little bit, like you've been running. Maybe you've been doing some easy runs, maybe you've even been doing some speed workouts, but then you decide you're going to start your next race training cycle, but yet you've had three or four months here where you haven't really been doing any structured sort of training. And so a lot of people then just assume that when they start that new training cycle, they're exactly where they were at the end of the last one.
ANGIE: Right. And that leads people to really pushing harder than they should be pushing, especially at the beginning of that training cycle, which leads them to overreach physically and mentally. Right. Because now they're trying to hit these workouts that they maybe were hitting at the end of the last cycle, but now they're at the beginning of this, and they're like, they just assume that these four months didn't happen. Right. And so what happens a lot of times here is a lot of frustration because they're not hitting those times that they were able to hit a couple of months ago. And then they push harder. Right. They try to double down and push harder down because they're like, well, this is what I'm capable of. This is what my last race was like, I should be able to do this. And then they end up getting injured. Right. Because they're ignoring the lack of structured training over those past few months in between their cycles.
KEVIN: Right. They're fully on board with step one. This is what I have recently done. And the recent kind of goes up in quotes there.
ANGIE: I was going to say recently in quotes
KEVIN: That's the thing is recently depends. What is it that you're trying to rely on from your previous cycle. Did it fade? Yes. Mental skills stuck around, which is part of the challenge there is mentally, you know, that your body has been capable of doing this. It's just how recently was that? What has happened between then and now? You need to recognize where you're currently at because all good training plans are based off of training based off of your current abilities, not based of the future goal that you have. You have to keep an eye on that. But everything should really be based off of your current training abilities so that you're not perpetually overreaching.
ANGIE: Right, but it's also not where you were too, right.
ANGIE: Like, I think that this is one of the things that we get wrong a lot, right? I think that some people base it on where they want to go, right? They're just trained as if they're already there. That's one mistake that people make.
KEVIN: So, we have three sets,
ANGIE: But there's a lot of people that train where they used to be, right? Like, they have this idea in their head of like, well, this is what I used to do, and this is where I used to be, so I'm probably the same now. But yet they don't take into account how much time has lapsed from that ideal of themselves or any life situations that have happened. There are a lot of women, especially, that fall into this trap of, like, after they have a baby, right? Like when you're like, well, this is what I was running before I had a baby, and then I had a baby and now I'm going to start training again. And they try to jump in basically right where they used to be, and they get frustrated as heck and they get injured and they get burnt out and they're just wiped out. Plus, now they have a child to take care of. Right. Like, their entire life has been completely shifted and altered. And a lot of times we don't like to acknowledge that, but we need to acknowledge that for us to get the best results. And that's why knowing where you are right now and starting your training from your current abilities is really important. So if you were just coming off a training cycle and you have just run a race within the last month, right? Because like Kevin said, a lot of those benefits will stick around for a few weeks. Right. So if you've run that race within the last month, that's a good marker to use. If not, you should reassess where you are when you start a current training cycle, right. So you need to know that current point so that you can have the best success in that training cycle that you're about to start.
KEVIN: Yeah. Training with a focus on where you have been at some point in the past and just assuming that you must be there and keep grinding it out day after day based off of what you used to be some previous years ago is what I like to refer to as the second half of my 20s. Hey, remember when I was running at a D1 college level? Let's pretend that I'm still there. It's not necessarily the most successful of cycles.
ANGIE: Well, I think this is what gets people into that vicious running cycle.
KEVIN: There are times where you go out and that workout does work out perfectly. You got phenomenal sleep, everything was eating well. Going into that, you recovered, and maybe you tie together two or three days in a row that you feel like superhuman. You're like, I am exactly where I was before, and now I'm going to jump even further forward and then the next day comes out and it's just, no, I got nothing. Like, my legs are led. I feel terrible. I can't keep up with any of these paces. You're not sure why, and the answer is because you don't have that full foundation.
KEVIN: So, sure, every once in a while, you are able to jump up and go back to that place that you may have been in the past, or leap up and run a workout at a pace that is this goal PR that you have in mind. But you can't do that every single day. You try and hit that every day one, you're just going to miss the time. So then you're going to leave this disappointment when you head out on your runs, because sometimes it's there and sometimes it's not. And then you're trying to get confused about, like, what was it that gave me the magic win? It's because training does not necessarily progress to perfect linear advancements in your improvement.
ANGIE: Darn it.
KEVIN: That'd be awesome if it did, because the engineer brain in me would just be like, look at this amazing formula, plug the numbers in and go. But it's not how it goes. You just keep putting in words.
ANGIE: You wouldn't need, like, running coaches if that was the case.
KEVIN: I know. That would be the problem too.
ANGIE: Well, you would learn the system and then just follow that for the rest of your life.
KEVIN: Yeah, I mean, that would be convenient. And then we just keep getting faster, infinitely. So all races would be won by, like, octagonarians. That'd be cool. But your training, as much as you want to keep putting in the training, it's not going to always lead to linear improvement. There's going to be plateaus and we talk within real life runners about not getting stuck on the plateau. Plateau. That doesn't mean that the plateau doesn't exist. That just means recognizing it and then seeing how to get off of the plateau. Your results may still kind of climb a little bit and then flatten off, maybe regress every once in a while, and then climb again. Sometimes the plateau and continuing to train on and living at that plateau is what leads to that shocking overnight breakthrough where you're like, I don't know how, I took three minutes off my 5K PR. I've been stuck at this level for so long. Yeah, because you were training appropriately at that level. You were training at that level and suddenly you got the breakthrough. It's when you're on the plateau and you keep pretending that you're not. So you keep pushing harder and harder and harder. Now you regress because you've hurt yourself, because you're so frustrated you fall off the wrong direction, off the plateau, train where you are and see eventually that you're going to pop forward off of this thing.
ANGIE: Yeah. I feel like this is kind of the same thing as the overnight success in business or in not social media, I guess social media nowadays just I was going to say, like, in media or in movies or whatever, right? You see these people that just kind of seem to pop out of nowhere, and they are like the overnight success, but what you ignore is, like, the five years that they've just been grinding, right? Like, that they've been going, we'll just take acting, right? Like, an actor pops onto the scene and all of a sudden they're in, like, every movie, right? And they're like, oh my gosh, where did this guy come from? He's like he's been doing auditions for the last five to ten years and, like, honing his craft and taking crappy commercials and doing all these other things to get him and to the point where he finally had that breakthrough, right? When you finally have that breakthrough, it's not just like, oh, all of a sudden, it's because you've been doing the hard, plateau, boring work for so long and building up that base, building up that foundation both in mileage and in speed and in strength and in nutrition and getting proper recovery and sleep. Like, all of that stuff that you need to build that strong running foundation, that's what leads to those breakthroughs. It's not just like some magic workout that you do. It's not you pushing harder over and over and over again, and then finally you break through. Pushing harder over and over and over again is just going to continue to break you down and not and make you not capable of that breakthrough.
KEVIN: Yeah. That's why I love the website IMDb, where you're like, man, who is that actor? I feel like I've seen them before, but I've never seen them in a leading role. And you click on, you get their history, and they're like, oh, yes, they played man number three, and then they also played
ANGIE: The random person in Grey's Anatomy.
KEVIN: Yes, like uncredited man on sidewalk. Okay, so they've been in 30 movies. They got credited in 20 of them because the other one, they were literally just a background character. And now suddenly somebody decided to give them a speaking role. And then they said all line in a movie. And yes, they've been doing things. So you're like, I recognize this person, but I'm not sure why. It's because they've been in the background.
ANGIE: Oh, my gosh.
KEVIN: She's putting in all the work.
ANGIE: It's so funny that you say that because I was literally just on TikTok last night and I was like, found this guy's, video, popped up on my thing and it was funny. So I clicked on his profile and he said, I'm that guy from that thing you saw. That's how he names his profile. And he had one of his TikToks of like, how do I know this guy? And then it flashed, like, 1 second scenes of all these TV shows that he was in, but he was some random character in them, and all of a sudden he's blown upon TikTok and he's a quote unquote overnight sensation, creating videos on TikTok and has, like, 4 million followers.
KEVIN: Is the guy that you've seen. I know that face, but I'm not exactly quite sure why, but you've seen the face over and over. So one of the things on this guy is knowing that you're training.
ANGIE: It’s not the TikTok guy.
KEVIN: Not the TikTok guy. One of the things on the
ANGIE: Knowing where you are
KEVIN: running aspect of this knowing where you are if you're pushing too hard all the time, if you're trying to constantly train above your level, what that means is that you're going to lack the energy to do all of the parts of the foundation that you need. We've talked about do you need to build the speed, do you need to build the strength? Do you need to build the endurance? Like, what is that you need focus on, but you can't miss any of the levels. You don't necessarily focus as much. Your priorities are different, but they should all still be there. And if you're training above your level, then the ones that are not, like, your key priority may fade to zero. That's the problem is like, all right, well, I really wanted to build up my endurance. I used to be able to run 10 miles, so I'm just going to go out and run 10 miles. Now you're too tired for the next three days to get into string session. Now you're skipping the speed session and suddenly you're losing all of these other abilities and you're like, this is not a good plan. You're constantly hurt. Ice is not a long-term plan. That's just not a good long term training plan. Ice and incense. This is not a long term plan. I'll pop some advil beforehand and I'll just cover myself in ice afterwards is not going to be the year upon year effective training schedule.
ANGIE: Right. So instead of going out and running that ten mile run that you really want to do mentally. It's much better for you to just go out and run five. And the next day go out and run five. And then the next day go out and run three. Right. And continue to build up those smaller. Like those shorter runs where you're just able to successfully complete them and not feel awful afterwards. Right?
ANGIE: And then you build up to that ten mile run. And I think that this is part of patience, right? Like so many of us, so many runners, we lack patience because we don't want to wait to get to the thing we already want to be to the thing. But then what's the point of the whole journey? This is one of the things that we love to talk to our clients about inside the Real Life Runner Training Academy. What's the rush? Running is a journey, and if you can fully accept where you are and know where you are right now, then you get to just enjoy the journey to get to where you want to go, which is number three. Okay, so we talked so far about knowing where you've been and using that to your advantage, knowing where you currently are and being brutally honest with yourself about it. And now to truly set yourself up for success, you will have to know where you want to go. You have to know obviously what race you want to complete, what your goal is for that race. Do you have a time goal? Do you just have a goal to complete it? Anytime the first time you do a race of any distance, we would suggest the goal just being completion because you really don't know how it's going to be. And a lot of times if people if you set a time goal in your head before you've ever completed that race, distance, it can lead to a lot of disappointment, which is kind of stinky. Like, if it's the first time you ever run a half marathon or a marathon and you're disappointed at the end of it, like, that kind of stinks, right? Like, that's why, like, setting that goal of just like, being able to complete it and you kind of see where your time is. And then from there, going back to step one of this whole process, using the last training cycle to then get faster and decide where you want to go is really important. But a lot of times what happens is that people know where they want to go. They know that this is the race that I'm going to run and this is the time that I want to run that in. And so oftentimes they try to focus too quickly on race specific workouts. So they're like, well, if I'm running a half marathon, then I should probably start doing all of my long runs at half marathon pace.
ANGIE: I'm going to focus on that pace because I know that I want to run it at nine minute pace. So all of my long runs I'm just going to start doing it nine minute pace. And this is not the most effective training method to train this way because a lot of times what happens is that they end up getting too tired, fatiguing themselves and really trying to focus on that race pace type of workout. And essentially they just don't make the progress that they want to make.
KEVIN: Right. So what often happens, because we get the same thing with kids on our cross country team, is they think that every time they do something where they're pushing themselves, it needs to be like whether it's a workout or an actual early season race, everything needs to be their goal. Five KPR on the season
ANGIE: or pushing as hard as they can.
KEVIN: Yes, pushing as hard as they can, which is
ANGIE: especially like our freshmen that don't understand how to pace themselves.
KEVIN: Right. So then they're pushing way beyond 5K. When we're racing a 5K, you have to be able to run 3 miles. Today we're going to do quarter mile repeats. It's like, okay, sweet, so I just sprint for a quarter mile. No, that's not at all what we want you to do. Okay, but I'm going to sprint the first one. No, please don't sprint first one. What ends up happening often, once we've convinced them that sprinting is not the thing, then they fall into, okay, but I just need to run it at my perfect, ideal 5K race pace. And what happens is it leads to a lot of racing within practice and then they race the workout on a Thursday. So they show up on Saturday and they just feel completely flat because they literally left their race PR on the training course on Thursday.
ANGIE: They pushed too hard during the workout.
KEVIN: There it is sitting on the track. It's there on the trails. Now you show up on race day and you didn't bring the PR with you, you left it on Thursday. Like, oops, you forgot what was supposed to you forgot the goal of the plan. The goal of the plan is to be really fast on race day, not really fast on like, week three of a twelve-week plan. That was not the goal. The goal wasn't win week three.
ANGIE: The goal is to win every week. Let's be real. The goal is to win every week. But you don't win every week by pushing as hard as you can.
KEVIN: The goal is not
ANGIE: it's redefining what winning is.
KEVIN: Yes. The goal is not, I need to run this 600 meters, repeat as fast as I possibly can. No, you don't. Like, if the goal is not all out 600, then that should not be the goal of that workout. Winning means running in control, running like the suggested pace, running a pace that makes sense based off of your current ability, not based off of where you'd like to be a couple of months down the road.
ANGIE: Well, and running with a structure, running with a plan, right, like understanding that the best way to structure a training plan is to have a specific goal for every single run that you do. Sometimes that means it's an easy run where you're just kind of going at a nice, easy, relaxed pace, sometimes at the long run. So you're going out and you're trying to increase your distance. Sometimes it's a speed workout, right.And when you're doing the speed workout, that doesn'tmean, like Kevin said, that you're going out and trying to run as hard as you can. It's different, right. Sometimes you're doing quarter repeats, sometimes you're doing half mile repeats, sometimes you're doing mile repeats at different paces and at different effort levels because you're trying to train different systems of the body to prepare your body to be in the best shape that it can be for the race, right? And so this is why a lot of times the way that we like to train people and teach our clients to set up their plans is to make when you're doing speed workouts and when you're structuring the plan, the further away from race day you are, the less specific those workouts should be. Okay? So, for example, if you're training for a 5K, and this is what makes cross country kind of quote unquote, tricky to coach, because every race is a 5K, right? So it's not that we're trying to build them up to this one distance or this one speed, but the goal is to have them peak at the end of the season, right? And so there are some races that we will do what you just described, right? We'll have a hard speed workout on like Thursday or Wednesday and then race on Saturday and their legs are going to be dead. But the goal is not to PR at that race and some of them still will, right? Especially our newer runners, right, because it's fun when they come in as freshman and every race is a PR just because they keep getting a better shape, right, but then when they get to be like a junior, a senior, and they're like starting to not see those PRS every single race, right? And we're like, yeah, that's because we're training for the end of the season, the goal is to get to the state championship and have that be the peak. We want you to peak at the state championships every year. That is the goal. And so the further away from that, when we're training in August, when we're training in September, we're not doing workouts to hone in on that peak PR race pace
KEVIN: And they always get a little bit disappointed. And then we get this race where it's the last race of the season that we have our entire team is before the team cuts down to just the varsity runners and everybody goes out and they crush it at the county meet. And they're like, Coach, I just PR by two and a half minutes. I'm like, yes, that's because you didn't PR all season long because we actually were training you to be able to peek at this race. Right.The goal of the season was the smile you currently have on your face. You remember that disappointment you had last week because you're like, I don't know, I didn't feel great last week. It's because you feel awesome today. It's almost like we coached you appropriately. It's fun that way because they're so excited with the PR at the end.
ANGIE: Right. And that's why how you apply this to you, if it's a 5K, 10K, a half marathon, whatever it might be, right? The further you are from that race distance, the less specific your workout should be. So if you're aiming for a 5K, you're going to want to kind of start with more of those slower miles like we were talking about building up that base and then putting in likesome strides so that you're still kind of hitting very short bursts of that higher end speed, right? So because like we said, even though you're focusing on different things, it doesn't mean that you completely ignore certain aspects of your training, right? So you're doing a lot of slower, easier miles, building up that endurance, throwing in some strides for speed, and then the closer you get to that 5K rate that you're aiming for, then you start doing more like, mile repeats at 5K pace or half mile repeats at 5K pace, where you're trying to really hone in on that race specific pace. Because within those couple of weeks right before the race, you're going to be close to the shape that you want to be in and you're going to be close to that peak. So you're going to be more able to hit those goal paces.
KEVIN: Yeah, 100%. And when you start putting in the speed earlier in a training block for a 5K, the speed does not need to be at five k race pace. It either needs to be faster because you're doing much shorter, you're doing like strides.
ANGIE: 15 to 20seconds.
KEVIN: 15 to 20 seconds maybe at most, you're pushing up to like a quarter mile and you're doing that faster than 5K pace. And then as the season progresses, your intervals are able to stretch out and get a little bit longer instead of a quarter mile, now it's a half mile, now it's kilometers, now it's miles, but the pace slows down a little bit because the pace comes back towards your new 5K goal pace. So you kind of like sharpened towards your 5K over the season. If you're training for a marathon, your goal pace is not that fast relative to how fast you can run. The pace that you can sustain over 26 miles and the pace that you can sustain, like, down the block are very, very different paces. So how do you hone in on that? Well, it's okay to have some decent speed at the beginning of a marathon plan because as you get closer race date, you're going to lose some of that speed because you're not as focused on it.
ANGIE: Right. And there are different body systems too.
KEVIN: Yes. I've heard several coaches that suggested that the overall big view of a marathon is get real fast at the beginning of the season and then hang on to that as much as you can as you bow your endurance. Because you're going to naturally lose some of that speed over the course of making sure that you can try and hold as much speed for 26 miles as you can. You're going to lose some of the higher end speed.
ANGIE: Right. So you know, when you're doing those race specific types of workouts, you're going to want to progress them throughout the plan, right? You're not going to worry so much about hitting that goal pace at the start. You're just going to start getting used to doing the work. You're going to maybe start hitting quarter repeats or half mile repeats or mile repeats, but not at your 5K goal pace, like just at maybe your current 5K pace or your current 10K pace. Right. Just kind of getting used to doing the work, putting in those speed work and earlier in the plan and then honing in on that race pace as you get closer.
KEVIN: Yeah. This one. I really like this concept here of when you are aiming for race specific workouts because you can't just throw race specific workouts in the last couple of weeks to plan. Especially if you're training for something longer like a half marathon or a marathon. You kind of want to gradually progress the amount of distance that you can cover at half marathon pace if you're like. All right. Before I go out and run this thing, I'd like to be able to do like a steady state run of 6 miles at half marathon pace. You can't just drop that into the plan out of nowhere, but you have to kind of throw that in. So earlier in the plan, you'd be like, all right, I'm going to do like three times a mile at my goal pace and see how that pace feels to you because it's going to give you a good explanation about maybe what's missing, maybe what you should focus on as your base. If you try and drop three times a mile at half marathon pace and your legs feel like lead, it's possible that you don't have the speed and power built up. You need to focus on some strength. If you try and drop three times a mile at half marathon pace and you can't breathe, you need to focus on your longer, slower running because you don't have the cardio capability yet to be able to hold that pace. So when you sprinkle in much drops down kind of volume of that workout earlier in the season, it lets you know, what am I missing to be able to actually sustain this late in the season as it gets closer and closer to my rate.
ANGIE: Yeah, and that goes back to all of those other components of your personal foundation, right? Like. You have to know where you are and that's why base building, yes it includes mileage. It includes these different types of speed workouts. But it also includes your strength. It also includes your recovery. Your nutrition. Like. All these other aspects for you to build that foundation so that once you get into that race training plan and closer to the race date, your body is able to handle the increase in training load. The increase in the speed work. The increase in the mileage. And that all comes from all of the training that you've been doing outside of running as well.
KEVIN: Yeah, 100%. The example I like to give on this one is every time we go to the beach, our kids, the kids next to us, there's always a kid digging a giant hole at the beach. And they always, for whatever reason, they like to dig until they reach water. The ocean is sitting right there, but they're going to dig a hole until they reach the water.
ANGIE: Because it's cool.
KEVIN: Of course, it is.
ANGIE: It is so cool when you actually reach the water.
KEVIN: Of course, it is. But no six-year-old kid with their plastic shovel ever starts the hole wide enough. So they start digging, and they dig this hole that's maybe, like, six inches across, and then you can see them. They're digging so deep, their entire arm has disappeared in the hole. And then at some point, and it's always like, the five or six-year-old with their plastic shovel, they get super upset because the walls of the hole crash in on it. Because they didn't start by making the hole wide enough. They didn't cast a large enough net. That's the problem of keying in on what my base has to be exactly this. No, your base needs to encompass all sorts of things to give you the appropriate foundation. Sure. That might include increasing your mileage. That also includes, as Angie pointed out, your nutrition needs to be on point. A lot of people forget that aspect. That stretches the hole a little bit wider. I can't completely ignore my speed. Oh, I'm training for a marathon down the road. I actually want to make sure that I do increase my speed as I've got some decent mileage built up. Okay. Now the hole is a little bit wider. I want to make sure that I've got not just, like, ABNC, but ABCDEFG all lined up. That hole that you're going to dig now starts wide enough. So now as you keep digging deeper and deeper, the walls don't come crashing in on you.
KEVIN: It just occurred to me that I'm like, it's always that kid that's trying to dig, like, the hole is literally as wide around as their arm, and then they get annoyed that the walls come crashing in on them. Start at wider. Make sure that your base is actually a substantial base.
ANGIE: Yeah. And again, the one thing I don't want you guys hearing here is like, oh, my God, there's all of these things I need to consider. This sounds so overwhelming. This sounds like too much. I don't think this is for me, that's not worth going for here. Right. Our goal is to give you the big picture so that you can kind of figure out, okay, what are maybe the pieces that I'm missing? Because in all likelihood, you're not missing all the pieces. You've probably already started to develop a few of these pieces,
KEVIN: and that was point one. You have these.
ANGIE: Exactly. You have to know what you've already accomplished and then just kind of see, okay, how can I improve this just a little bit? You don't have to completely overhaul your diet and your nutrition unless you want to, but like, okay, here's what I'm currently doing. How can I improve that a little bit? And for a lot of people, as they are training, especially for longer races, they need to increase how much they're eating. They need to increase the carbohydrates, because if they're not feeling like they can hit those paces, like they can hit that mileage, a lot of times it's a fueling issue, right? You're just not eating enough because you're still eating as if at the same way you were when you were running maybe 10 miles a week, and now you're running 20 miles a week, your body needs more fuel, right? And so we want to kind of expose you to all of these different pieces so that you can start to take and be like, okay, I'm just going to try this one, right? Because if you can improve one piece by 10%, that might pay off and give you a 20% improvement in your training. You never know. So, it's just kind of like seeing all the pieces and then taking one by one and just improving it by a little bit. Improving it by a little bit. And that's why running is that journey, right? And if you can use one training cycle and one goal to build onto the next one, then you're just going to keep making improvements. They won't be linear, right? We've already talked about that, right? But we want them to be as linear as possible, right? There's going to be ups and downs along the way. There's going to be highs and lows. That's just part of all of it. But when you can learn how to stack your cycles and kind of figure out those little areas of weakness or those little areas where you can start to improve. You're going to see massive payoffs when it comes to race day. So we hope that this is helpful for you guys and helped you really rethink your idea of what base building is and all of the things that go into base building and how you can take what you already have done, where you currently are and get exactly to where you want to go. So if you guys found this episode helpful, we would love for you to share it with a friend. We now have a YouTube channel started. We are over on Instagram. We're on Twitter. I'm going to start tweeting a little bit more. We're on all the platforms at Real Life Runners, so if you guys haven't followed us on those platforms, please do so. We would love to connect with you on whatever platform you enjoy the most. I tend to be most active on Instagram, so that's usually where I send people. If you have any questions, you can shoot me a DM at Real life Runners. And if you haven't yet, we would love for you to leave us a rating and review on your favorite podcast player, because we create this podcast for you guys for free, because we love helping runners to achieve their goals and to get faster and run longer and do all of it without injury and do all of it while just loving their life. So that is really our mission. So, by you leaving a rating in a review, we can reach more people and help more runners to love running and incorporate it into their real life in a way that works for them. So if you haven't yet, we really would appreciate for you guys to leave that review, share this episode and do all the things. And as always, thank you for spending this time with us. We appreciate it. We know you could spend your time doing a lot of other things, so we appreciate you guys being here. This has been the Real-Life Runners podcast, episode number 263. Now get out there and run your life.