Even though I have some races on my calendar, my main focus over the last couple months has been building a strong base for marathon training. I came back after a couple bad months with fire in my belly. I looked at my training logs and wanted more. I wanted to be stronger in every possible way.
Since it is almost time for official marathon training to begin I thought I would share some base building tips that I’ve been utilizing. Remember, I am not a professional in any way and all of the content included in this blog unless otherwise noted should be taken as advice from one runner to another.
Even though I have my ups and downs I’ve realized that it is more important to be consistent than anything else. As much as I would love to incorporate speed work, hill work, strength work, and strides into every week of my training, I’ve determined that it is more important that I just keep running even if those particular workouts don’t happen. Sometimes I am too tired or it just doesn’t work out, but the most important part is that I keep running regularly. Even if they are super slow easy miles, just keep running.
LONG RUNS ARE BOSS.
This is kind of a piggy back off being consistent, but by being consistent with your long runs you are setting yourself up for success later. If you can slowly increase your long run mileage during the off season then it won’t be as difficult on your body when you start to add in more quality workouts like speed and hill work. It’s also easy to forget that long runs are what makes an endurance athlete battle through the distance.
DON’T SKIP THE MIDDLE DISTANCE.
When I looked back through some of my training logs from last year I was shocked that my middle distance runs weren’t anywhere to be found. I wasn’t really utilizing them to help me improve my performance and that wasn’t doing me any favors. There were multiple weeks when I looked back and noticed that during the peak of my marathon mileage I wasn’t running any middle distance runs. This basically means that I was running a long run of 15-20 miles but the other runs that week were only about 5 miles. I should have been utilizing the middle distance 8-12 miles. The middle distance is a great way to throw in some fartlek miles between a warm up and cool down, try out some pace pick ups, work in some tempo miles, or just build your aerobic base further.
TRY DIFFERENT TERRAINS.
Lately I have really been enjoying doing my recovery runs on the trails. Not only is it a great change of scenery from the road, but it’s easier on my body because the impact of the trails is much softer than the pavement. I have also noticed with trail running that my ankles and legs overall are stronger in unexpected places because the muscle engagement on the trails is different. Having to dodge puddles, roots, rocks and fallen trees has made my body work differently than it would on the road and I feel like it’s made some of my smaller stabilizing muscles stronger.
DON’T SKIMP ON STRENGTH.
Base building is a great time to focus on building strength as well. Once official training begins and the mileage increases it can sometimes be challenging to get everything in. If you focus on strength workouts now then your body will be stronger and better able to perform in quality workouts. For many strength workouts can also help prevent injuries. If you are new to strength training focus on short workouts you can do after a couple times a week that will give you great results after weeks or months of doing them consistently. Exercises like lunges, squats, bird dogs, wall sits, v sits, glute bridges, planks and clamshells are go to routines for many runners because you can do them anywhere and they don’t take much time. *If you aren’t sure what those exercises look like just Google them. 🙂
How do you focus on building a base?
What are your tips to stay strong?