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Base Build Up: From Jogger to Runner

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Base Build Up: From Jogger to Runner

Status: new Runner, or returning from long-term injury or layoff but with some miles behind you

Goal: able to run 5 or 6 days a week, totaling 6 or more hours

Time to Reach Goal: a few weeks to several months (depends on age and general fitness level)
Purpose of Build-up Phase: The main objective is to build up training time (usually measured in distance by most of us) to so that you can improve your aerobic capacity before taking on taking on even more training time (miles) during the peak volume phase or the intensity needed for race-specific training as well as racing.

A Little More on How Much and How Long it Takes: This can vary. Legendary coach Arthur Lydiard--considered by many to be the grandfather of modern coaching theory--believed 15 hours a week (approximately 100 miles for a good runner) to be the standard needed to achieve a base. Meanwhile, you will also find many reputable and excellent training guides that include base schedules to bring runners up to 20 or 25 miles a week.

So it depends.

The schedules I have listed below go up to about 6 to 8 hours, and this comes largely from personal experience as well as observation. Training under about 5 or 6 hours a week does not provide enough time to approach good aerobic development. A few hours a week is great for overall fitness and feeling in shape, but if you really want to improve (in particular at any distance from about 3000 meters on up) then 5 or 6 hours is about the minimum.
Finally, I am emphasizing building up to 5 and then 6 days a week of running. Cross training can supplement aerobic development but it is no substitute.     

Enough Theory, Let’s Go!
You’ve reached that plateau as a consistent fitness runner/jogger and you have been at about 8 or 10 miles a week. You might have even done some 5k races, or longer. Now you want more, you want to improve and get even more fit.     
At this point you should be able to run 20-30 minutes reasonably comfortably at least three times a week. If that’s a challenge then start with less then try to build up. If you’re at 30 minutes three times a week, plus you’re walking or cross training you should be ready to go. 

One of the first things to do is to add “running” day, so you’re at four days running a week. Then slowly and incrementally you will add time onto a weekly “long” run, and then you will add another day of running so you are at five days a week. Meanwhile, a second longer run is added, and the time increases.

As with the “Zero to Jogger” schedule some might be able to quickly move to the middle or late parts of the schedule while others might even take longer. Each of us is a little different.

There are three example schedules below. The first one is for the relatively new runner who does not have a lot of fitness background, or someone who has not trained consistently for many months or years. It follows a more or less 10% increase per week, and if needed added cut back weeks to allow you to adapt to the increased time (mileage) on your feet.

The next schedule might be well suited for a runner who has trained consistently (on or off) as a fitness runner for a while. So if you are already at 3 or 4 hours a week then you should be able to jump in at that point on the schedule. By looking at the total hours column on the right you will see that the duration of running will plateau for a few weeks before jumping up. This allows your joints and muscles time to adapt to the increased load. 

The Third schedule is for the more experienced/advanced runner, someone who has been around the block a few times and doesn’t normally blink too much at 50 to 80 mile weeks in their near future. The increase might seem fast and that old 10% rule is thrown out the window! However, did you know that Arthur Lydiard advocated that runners (not just elites but heretofore sedentary individuals) could go from 0 to 100 miles a week in just 10 weeks!? Personally, I think that kind of development should take several years, and I’ve heard the same from many top level college and elite club coaches. Nevertheless, the 3 week plateau is also incorporated into this schedule (which is relatively similar to what I do every spring coming off of xc ski season).

Note that the schedules are more for example purposes, so don’t get too caught up in following these verbatim. In fact, I’d recommend against it! You have to adjust day to day and week to week due to weather, illness, sore feet, and all those other obligations in life. At least be prepared to adapt and tweak as things happen.

Congrats! You are now a 5 or 6 times a week runner! You have establishing a base (at least you’re off to a good start) and you will be ready to take on the next part of the base phase (peak volume) before embarking on specific training programs for any distance from middle distances up to the marathon.

nadra's babydaddy:
Sweet, this looks about like what I've been doing as far as format.  I was comfortably doing about 60mpw in college with no significant injury issues, however that was 6-7 years ago.  The buildup has been pretty conservative since august, but more aggressive lately.   I'd be at about weeks 10-7-4 on those respective plans.   I'm targeting a half-marathon in 6 months and a marathon in 10 months, so I have some build-up time, but I also want to have the strongest base possible.

I've hit 67 minutes for my long run the past couple weeks and am targeting 75 on saturday with hopes of being up to 90 by the new year - about 5 weeks out.   By mid-late february, I'd like to be hitting 2 hours, which I'll hold pretty regularly and shoot for at least 3 runs in the 2:30-3:00 range (15-16 miles) before mid-may.   I'd guess the rest of the week will look somewhere in between the intermediate and advanced schedules with strides 1-2x per week, a weekly tempo run (occassionally hills or intervals instead) and some goal pace runs.  Sound reasonable?

I'm really curious to see where I'll be at this spring and again in the fall in relation to my college form, assuming I can follow through with the training objectives.  7 years ago I hit 3:28 for the full, which was a bit soft for me back then given my times over shorter distances and the lack of long runs.  I don't expect to be anywhere close to that in just a year, but feel like I may still be closer than I think.  It's just hard to fathom running that speed for 26.2 when that's around where I'm at for 5k now  :P   

I see you break up the tempos into 3x6 minutes and such.  I just started up with those and have done mine at a sustained effort, usually somewhere in the 2-3 mile range @estimated 10k pace (I'm doing a 10k in early january sometime for a better benchmark).  Do you see any advantage in one way vs. another? 

Looking forward to the next installment!

Run Amok:
Perfect! Thank you! Pretty much ditto to what trog said.


--- Quote from: brainwashed troglodyte on November 28, 2012, 04:52:27 PM ---I see you break up the tempos into 3x6 minutes and such.  I just started up with those and have done mine at a sustained effort, usually somewhere in the 2-3 mile range @estimated 10k pace (I'm doing a 10k in early january sometime for a better benchmark).  Do you see any advantage in one way vs. another? 

Looking forward to the next installment!

--- End quote ---

Breaking up tempos (e.g., Daniels' cruise intervals) does not seem to make a lot of difference compared to continous or longer reps. I did a cursory Google search a while back and found part of one abstract that indicated such, but the fee for reading the whole thing was outlandish. Otherwise it was a lot of message board blather. Daniels implies (and Pfizinger indirectly says so it seems) that they are equivalent. The high school team frequently does 1 km reps at threshold with a 1 to 2 min recovery. But about twice a season they'll do the full 20 minutes continuously. I'd like to see them do longer reps with shorter recoveries or the continuous tempo because in a 5K race you don't get the opportunity to slow down every mile or km and one of the values of these workouts is teaching mind and body to keep on rolling even though it might not feel like that much fun at the time. The ratio of rep to recovery is usually 5:1 (that's what Daniels says).

I have more in my head, but it's going to be a bit before I can get to it. Real work awaits.

nadra's babydaddy:
Cool, sounds about right.  I'll probably do mile repeats or something from time to time just for the sake of mixing it up, but mostly I'll stick with the sustained tempo efforts.  Like you said, you don't get those recovery opportunities in a race, so I feel more value in the longer effort. 

And it's 'troggie'!  :grr:


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