Wednesday, April 18, 2012

Building base miles, the non-stress fracture-y way!

Between being sick and having a couple of worrisome ouchie spots, my base mileage has been shot all to hell.  This week I am starting to re-build my base.  The question is, how to do it some other way than I've been doing it -- because clearly, my way hasn't been working.

So I went to Runner's World to see what they had to say.  Here's what I stole got from them*:

Know your base pace.  Base miles should be run at a comfortable, conversational pace, or about 60 to 75 percent of your maximum heart rate.  For faster runners, base pace is probably at least 1.5 minutes slower per mile than 10-K race pace, while slower runners might be closer to a minute slower per mile than 10-K race pace.

I run at the same pace for every run, whether race or training:  As fast as I feel like I can go without dying.  Note that this is different from as fast as I could go.  Because I should be faster than I am.  But I let my brain -- and my lungs, and my legs -- pysch me out.  I am working on this.  Overall,  I aim for 12 minute miles.  I'd like to get this down closer to 10 minute miles for up to five mile distances.  For longer, particularly half marathon or marathon distance, a consistent 12 would be just fine with me.  For MCM, I have to get under 14 minute miles.

Plan your increases.  Here is Jack Daniels's rule for increasing mileage: Never add more than one mile per week for each running workout you do per week. So if you run four times a week, you can add up to four miles to your weekly training. But once you add miles, you must train at the new weekly total for three weeks before adding more mileage. Devote 10 to 12 weeks to building your base to reap maximum benefits.
This is the part that has been breaking my legs.  I had a tibial stress fracture in my right leg last year trying to do too many miles too quickly, and this year when I started to have that same feeling in my left leg I stopped running.  I think my left leg will be okay, but I also have a persistent, nagging ache in my right foot that's been around since the first of the year.  Interestingly, my foot doesn't really bug me when I'm running but I'm being careful with it nonetheless. 

Don't forget quality training entirely. When you're base training, the majority of your workouts should be made up of steady aerobic mileage. But to ensure that your body will be ready for the rigors of speedwork once spring has sprung, throw in a 20- to 25-minute tempo run once a week. Also run six to eight 100-meter strides at the end of two other runs each week.

Tempo runs have zero application to me right now.  In fact, I'll confess:  What exactly is a tempo run?   Every time I think I figure it out, the knowledge leaks right back out again.  I also don't have any interest in speed work right now.  I'm a distance runner.  I am not a sprinter and I never will be. 

So, after all of that, how to start building a base?  Again, this is always the challenge to me.  Do you start with ten or fifteen miles a week right off the bat, like in most plans?  Most plans also have the caveat that you have base mileage.  But -- not to sound like a broken record -- how in the heck do you start?

I'm going to start really slow.  Really, really slow.  I have some interim races planned, but my A goal is MCM.  This week, I have two two-milers planned with a long run of three miles this weekend.  A total of seven miles, with walking breaks when needed.  For my first run yesterday, I did two 15 minute miles; I could've easily gone faster but I forced myself to be mindful of healing injuries.  

I think I will follow the above Daniels' rule and do this for two more weeks, ideally with less breaks and a bit faster pace as I go.   It's also a good way to get back into the habit of running several times per week.  Three days a week is doable; going straight to four days a week and sticking with that is tough even when you're healthy.  In week four, I should be ready to add a fourth day to the schedule. 

Yes, this will mean that I may be DFL or damn close to it at the Portland Rock 'n Roll Half and the Bald Peak Half.  I know it's going to mean that for the weeks of those races I likely will only be doing the race and that's it for mileage.   But that's okay with me.  I'll do what it takes to ensure I have a solid, healthy base when MCM training officially starts in July.

Yeah, not what I meant when I searched for "hot marine."

Much more like it!!

How did you build your base?

the CilleyGirl

*Taken from this article here.  No copyright theft intended or implied.


  1. I think you have a great plan. You've got to start somewhere, and 7 miles in a week sounds so reasonable.

    Eek, RNR Portland is just around the corner. Slow and steady. Great plan.

  2. Is S coming for RnR Portland too? RR is staying with me that weekend and that means Old Spaghetti Factory dinner!

  3. Did I write this? Did you come into my brain and write this? I don't even really need to comment because all the stuff you said applies to me. I have ONE speed. Well, one speed and then a finishing kick. Period.

    And tempo? Huh? Speed work? Drills? Repeats? WTF is all that anyway???

    This is probably why I don't ever improve.