The Base Run – an Evergreen

Base runs are the epitome of all training. Without that form of training you lack the basis required for any sort of competition. Base runs, as a basic form of training, provide the best preconditions for endurance performances. Why are base runs the most common, as well as the most important training method and what is there to keep in mind? Those are the questions to be investigated here.

If you want to be successful in running, you cannot skip base runs. First, base runs trigger certain physiological adaptations in your body. This enhances both your ability to perform, as well as the ability to recover, which empowers your body to actually cope with large amounts of training. Some of those physiological adaptations are:

  • Economisation of the cardiovascular functions
  • Optimisation of the aerobic metabolism
  • Optimisation of the lipid metabolism
  • Strengthening of the immune system

On a muscular level, base runs lead to better capillary action – that is, more small blood vessels to transport oxygen into the tissue, which makes the muscle work more efficiently in the future. To keep it short: base runs help you to optimise your running economy. That basically means a better performance with the same effort. And all of this at a relatively low risk for overloading or injuries.

capillary

Base runs improve the capillary network

For all of the above reasons, base runs are the number one training method for all endurance athletes. The example of Emil Zatopek, who almost exclusively applied the interval method, is no exception. Some of his intervals the Czech ran so slowly that one could consider them base runs as well. With his new training method, he was ahead of his time, being one of the first long distance runners to use the interval method in addition to sheer training quantity. He realised that base runs would not suffice to make you faster. Since then, training methods have been developed decisively. Base runs and intervals are used alternately – we recommend a ratio of 3:1. Zatopek, the “Czech locomotive“, is also a great example of something crucial concerning training in general – and base runs especially: variety is key.

In terms of base running, that means they should vary. Avoid running either the same loop, at the same speed, for the same duration or on the same surface all the time. Variation not only has a positive effect on your motivation, but also it is essential, in order to make progress in endurance training. It is important to prevent your training from getting too repetitive, otherwise there is a risk for stagnation. Why not try and run uphill for a change? That brings some variety into your training routines.

mountain running

Why not run uphill for a change?

Important with base runs, as well as with training in general: you need to have a plan. This especially applies for intensity. Base runs should be conducted consciously at a relatively slow pace. This is necessary in order to develop a solid base, on which intense training and the according performances in competitions can be built. Especially for beginners, this is crucial. Staying calm and strictly keeping to the low intensity on your base runs may not be as easy as it seems. In that case, having a plan gives you confidence, while variety protects you from excessive or wrong training and it makes your training more interesting. Furthermore, controlling your heart rate or your pace with help of a GPS device may help you to keep to the intensity you desire. Showing some class is to stay cool and to continue running at the given pace even when getting passed by a training mate who normally runs a lot more slowly.

In summary:

  • Base runs serve as a basis for further training.
  • Variety is a must!
  • We highly recommend you to follow the 3:1 ratio. For each interval session you should do three base runs.
  • Keeping to the given pace is essential. Running.COACH helps you with that by giving you precise, individual pace guidelines.
  • Have the courage to run slowly. It’s not in training the score gets settled, it’s in the competition!

This post is also available in DE.

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