Building a running base before tackling a marathon training program is strongly encouraged by most running experts, coaches and veteran runners. Training for a marathon involves strenuous workouts and heavy mileage. Without establishing a proper base, you open yourself up to potential injuries and delays in your training program. You may not even make it to race day if you do not take care of your body properly by building a training base.
Build comfortable mileage
Building a training base begins with running consistently every week. It is not necessary (or even advisable) to run daily, but it is important to get to the place where you are able to run 20 – 25 miles per week. This is best accomplished by breaking your running into a 4 or 5 day a week schedule. You will want to take at least 1 or 2 days for cross training as well as an off day. Add your mileage slowly, with 10% per week increases. Increasing too quickly can cause you to get injured. The body must adapt to mileage slowly.
Your mileage should be comfortable and not too challenging. You will take on the challenge with your training program for your race. The base building should not be exhausting; you want to conserve your energy. Some coaches will advise you to start out hard. However, this should be practiced with moderation. In order to build your base and get comfortable mileage, a hard workout in your running week may be necessary. For example, hill repeats and speed workouts can improve your endurance, speed and stamina.
Adding mileage should be done slowly and incrementally. The idea is to only add 10% of your mileage each week. For newer runners, I advise following the 10/10 rule, which is 10% increase every 10 days. This allows your body to adapt to higher mileage more fluidly and without overstressing your joints, bones and muscles. Muscle adaptation is important for all athletes, especially runners. Running is extremely high impact which means that the body needs to adjust to the increased stress during workouts and recovery times.
Once you have added your mileage to the prescribed 20 – 25 per week, it is a good idea to begin harder workouts to ensure that your body is ready for the demands of training. Hitting some hills with strenuous repeats is an excellent way to build mileage. Another great way to increase your ability to run comfortably through your mileage is to include speed workouts. Interval training, during mileage you have already accomplished, increases anaerobic threshold as well as endurance. This will help your body adapt to hire mileage as well as longer runs at a slightly slower pace. I recommend a 5 minute, 2 minute rotation to work on speed at first. Run at your standard pace for 5 minutes and increase it for 2 minutes. Then, run hard for your last mile before taking a cool down. This type of workout is best for shorter runs, while you can add hill repeats into longer workouts.
For more information about how to build mileage and properly train for your race, check out our other great articles at Runnersgoal.com.