Dog Days of Winter

By Aaron Mabry | Jan 19, 2012

Well, the time of year is here for runners, especially those intending to seriously compete at the high school level, to begin building a base.  
For my runners, I always highlight the fact that they aren’t training to compete today, next week or even next month. In fact, the training they do now is meant to help them succeed at the highest level during championship season in May.
In any case, training is about a systematic chain of progression that begins in what I call the dog days of winter, a time when true champions rise to the top through hard work and commitment. But before we can throw our spikes on and dive into serious interval training, we have to focus first on our base.
The purpose for building a base is to engage in low-intensity workouts that create the building blocks of your fitness, giving you a strong foundation meant to support more intensive training later in the season.

It’s my suggestion that every runner should engage in some type of base training at least twice a year: before your season (winter) and following your season (summer).
The aforementioned base periods of low-intensity training will help keep you healthy in your off months and support a continuous level of fitness from which you can build over time.

In any case, the first few weeks of your base period should consist primarily of easy mileage. I like to call these fun runs, meant to be completed at conversation pace.
This initial base period will help transition your body properly into focusing less on anaerobic workouts and solely on building a greater level of aerobic fitness.

Once you’ve transitioned into your base period, normally three to four weeks in, it’s probably a good idea to begin introducing some lactate-threshold workouts into your repertoire of weekly workouts.
You can accomplish this with a tempo run, or deciding to run a faster than normal pace over a predetermined distance. Doing so will improve your strength and set you on course to making your re-entrance into anaerobic training.

Personally, I struggle with this aspect of base training, as I consider myself to be a middle- distance runner. However, it’s paramount that you make the effort to add in an abnormally long run every two to three weeks during your base period.
What do I mean by abnormally long? Well, take me for example. My standard long run is approximately 60 minutes. However, an abnormally long run would push into the 90-minute range. Though it’s not fun, it helps keep me confident later on when I’m faced with a 45-minute tempo run.

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