Running Base Training – Weekly Recap – 4.4.20

running base training

This was another mellow week for me and my boys (there’s a shelter in place theme happening here).  On Sunday I kicked off my running base training with 8 miles on the Leon Creek Greenway with my 6 year old, and then kept most of my weekly runs in the morning before work.  My son has been joining me for my lunchtime workouts, and between that and virtual PE, he seems to be getting a good amount of physical activity during the week.  He’s also been loving going on hikes after I’m done with work now that he can finish a full loop (a little under three miles).  The weather has been a little on and off, so we’ve been making the most of the sunny days when we have them.

Related Post: How We’re Keeping Our Kid Active During COVID-19

Work has been a little hectic this week. Even though I’ve always worked remote, I’ve found that my days are a little longer when I’m also trying to keep my kids “distance learning” on track. We’ve settled into a decent routine, and my husband has been home more than he was earlier in the year. But just when I feel like I’ve got the hang of something, things change, so I’m not expecting anything to stay on the rails for long at this point.

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Not hating his scooter time

Friday was a holiday, so I definitely reveled in the opportunity to sleep in and run a little later.  After my run, my husband and I spent the afternoon putting together a new bed for our 6 year old while watching Modern Family.  I’m not hating the family time; though I also am grateful for my solo runs in the mornings. 

My favorite electrolyte company, Nuun Hydration, re-released an old favorite flavor; Kona Cola.  So naturally, I stocked up on 7 tubes, along with their newly released Strawberry Kiwi flavor and their liquid calorie endurance product.  Zero regrets on all of that, with a more complete review later.

The next few weeks I’ll be focusing on base training.  It’s been a good long while since I haven’t been in marathon training mode, and I’m looking forward to really getting comfortable with longer distances more consistently, rather than building up to a peak over and over.  I know base building doesn’t always seem fun or exciting, but I think it’s a really important part of an endurance running program.  Here’s the how and why.

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Running Base Training

Base building is a very specific part of training that focuses on increasing endurance to a place where the runner can comfortably start increasing into longer distances when they begin a specified training block.  According to Podium Runner, the focus of running base training is to increase aerobic capacity, which often takes a healthy amount of time to increase.  Lots of training plans are marketed as “couch to,” meaning that there is no real base building.  It starts from ground zero.  And while this isn’t necessarily a deal breaker, it does limit the amount of specific training a runner is able to complete before the race.

For example, my next several races will be trail races that are fairly technical in nature.  If I didn’t start from a place where 16-18 miles was reasonably comfortable, I’d spend a good portion of my training block getting up to that point.  Which would leave me less time to work on my technical skills.  And since I’m not a fan of breaking my ankles or my face, I’d like the to have the time to work on those sorely lacking skills.  But the same method can be applied to increasing speed, getting comfortable with downhill running, or training for a rolling hills course.  If you have a specific goal, for a specific course, base building should definitely be on your pre-training radar.

Related Post: Running After A Marathon

So, if you’re considering adding a base building segment to your training plans, you may be wondering the best way to go about it.  Well, that really depends on the type of race you plan to tackle in the near future.  A base for a 5k road race would look fairly different from a base for a 50 mile trail race in the mountains.  But essentially, Runner’s World recommends focusing on easy effort runs that gradually build in distance, without any large jumps or focus on speed.

I tend to recommend having a goal of getting comfortable with about half the distance of your goal race.  If you’ve got your sights set on a marathon, focus on getting comfortable with the 13 mile distance.  That doesn’t mean you’ll use 13 miles as your goal long run distance every single week.  That would be more boring than watching your kid count goldfish during “math time,” sober.  Trust me, it’s boring.

Base building is also a really great time to incorporate some cross-training, since the focus is on building aerobic capacity.  If you’re someone that has struggled with keeping motivation to run 4-5 days a week without feeling like you’re Bill Murray in Ground Hogs Day, (aren’t we all feeling that way lately though?) subbing out a day of running with biking, swimming, or Zumba if you’re feeling spicy might help.  If you’re interested in starting a base training program, but want a little guidance, please feel free to reach out to me through my Contact Me page.

My Base Training Plan

My next several races will likely be around the 50k distance (about 33 miles), which is why I’m focusing on getting cozy with the 16-18 mile range.  Will I start my training block for those races with 16 mile long runs?  Hard nope.  But having the ability to comfortably run that distance at an easy pace will help me manage 10-14 mile technical runs that I will be taking on during that training time.  It will also (hopefully) help me in preventing injury with the high mileage training that is required for the ultra-marathon distances.

I plan on using the marathon and 50k races that I have on my radar as a build up to my 50 miler in late October. Depending on how the summer racing season shakes out, if it happens at all, I may do some additional base building before starting my 50 mile training plan. If the races go well, and I don’t kill myself falling down the trails (a real possibility), I might just go straight into 50 mile training. In reality, the difference in training for a 50k vs a 50 miler isn’t huge. It’s more about learning to keep going on tired legs, and that’s something I’ve been fairly comfortable with so far.

running base training - endurance base training - marathon base training
Some technical trails

I plan to keep my weekly mileage somewhat high (50-60) miles.  I’ll keep Saturday as my long run day, and pair it with a 6-8 mile recovery run on Sundays.  In the past I’ve followed the build for three weeks, and then cut back the fourth week pattern.  It’s worked well for me so far, and as long as my body doesn’t launch into some sort of protest, that’s probably what I’ll do for this base building period. 

Once I transition into ultra-training, my long runs will eventually get longer.  And I’ll add in the appetizing sandwich run, which is basically two long runs paired back to back.  I’ll also add in some much longer times on more technical trails as I get further in.  That’s the plan for now at least, so light a candle for me.  Because my adventures in running are not getting any less crazy in the future.  And this whole shelter in place thing isn’t exactly helping me to keep things realistic and reasonable.

This Weeks Workouts

running base training - endurance base training - marathon base training

Total Miles: 52
Total Workouts: 4
How the Runs Felt
All of my runs this week were run at an easy pace, and I have to say I am not hating not having any speedwork programmed.  I’m sure that in a few weeks, I’ll be itching to get back on the track or run a few tempo miles.  But for now, I am not hating not sucking wind.

I decided to run the same overall mileage as the Hansons Marathon Method training weeks 7 – 9, but a little more evenly spaced out. This week, that meant that my runs were all 7 & 8 miles. I’m not sure if I’ll continue to average out the weekly runs, but for this week it was pretty nice not to have too much to plan out. I had the day off work on Friday, so I decided to take advantage of the extra time, and I split up my 7 miles between the road and trails. We are about half a mile from the Fredrich Wilderness Park, which has several shorter trails that are fairly technical.

running base training - endurance base training - marathon base training
Getting started on my long run

I really loved getting in about 3.5 miles on the trails, but I had to laugh at how slow my pace was. The trails are pretty rocky, with some stair sections that are not what I would consider runable. But I felt amazing and my last 3 miles were in the low 8’s, without feeling taxing at all. I’m really interested to see how spending some more time on the trails will impact my overall speed. I’m hoping all of the up hill will give my legs a little more strength to move a little faster on the roads next fall.

My long run on Saturday was pretty amazing.  I started out on the Leon Creek Greenway, which I really love running.  There’s several sections of single track trail that run parallel to the paved greenway, and I decided to try and spend as much time on these single tracks as I could.  I ended up on the trails for about a third of my run, and it was just so much fun.  I had the same experience at the end of my run when I hopped off the trail and felt like I was absolutely flying for the last two miles on the pavement.

I’ve shared how I’ve had some stomach issues over the last couple of months, and I think I’m making some improvements in the GI department. One of the changes I’ve made is shifting to more liquid calories during my long runs. Since I’m an ambassador for Nuun Hydration, it made sense to give their Endurance product a shot. The Strawberry Lemonade flavor was really great, and it didn’t leave any sort of after-taste or grit in my mouth afterwards.

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10/10 recommend

The product has some caffeine, but didn’t make me feel jittery, and I liked being able to take it in slowly throughout my run.  I do wish that the calories were slightly higher.  One scoop gives you 60 calories of carbs, and my preference would be a little closer to 100.  That just means that I have to toss a few more scoops into my water bottle, so it’s not a huge deal.  Overall, I am LOVING their new releases.  The Kona Cola and Kiwi Strawberry flavors are delicious, and the Strawberry Lemonade Endurance fuel was great.  I know these will be absolute staples for me during the upcoming Texas summer.

What I’ve Been Listening To
I’ve been listening to Run Hard, Mom Hard, and I have to say I think it’s going to be a really great show. I finally finished up the first season of Atlanta Monster, and I have no clue how anyone could make any real determinations on guilty vs. innocent here. It sounds like such a complicated case, with strong evidence on both sides. I’m finishing up Up and Vanished, but in complete transparency, the series is starting to feel like it’s dragging out quite a bit. It seems like the season could have been significantly shorter, and I’m having a hard time staying interested in the story line. I’m emotionally committed enough to get to the end, but it isn’t keeping me super engaged at this point.

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How the WODs felt
This week had a lot more focus on strength and conditioning that previous weeks, and I felt pretty wiped out by Friday. I got in four workouts, which is a little more than I was getting in during my high mileage training. The workouts are definitely different than what I would be doing if I had access to a full gym, but I’m pretty happy with what I’ve been able to do with my kettle and dumbbell set up, and the fact that I’ve been CrossFitting At Home in general. I’ve continued posting home Workouts that I’m also sharing on my Instagram and Facebook stories.

What Went Well
This week it felt like most of my training flowed pretty naturally. I got my runs in during the morning, I took my son to ride his skateboard/bike while I worked out during lunch. My nutrition has been very consistent lately, which hasn’t been too difficult since I’ve been home. It’s been interesting to have so much time without travel, and we’ve spent a lot of time together as a family, which has been really nice. This week was definitely not a bad one for the Brambila’s.

running base training - endurance base training - marathon base training

What Went Shitty
It’s been a little tricky to keep my workouts as varied as I would prefer, but I’m doing the best I can with what I’ve got, and that’s what counts right now.  I definitely had my fair share of moments where I felt a little overwhelmed with my son’s distance learning, but we’ve started to get into a system that’s been working fairly nicely.  I’m transitioning into a new role at work this week, and that’s also been a little overwhelming mentally, but the role is much more aligned with what I want to be doing once I’m more settled in.

Plans to Improve Next Week  
Next week, I plan to make sure I am incorporating a good amount of core work, because I know it’s been paying off in my pacing and running.  My husband ordered a pull-up bar from Rogue, so I’m pretty excited to have that to add a little more variety into my workouts next week.  I also want to spend some more time on the trails, so I’m planning on splitting my long run between road and trail miles.

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