Monday, May 7, 2012

Base Training and the LSR

As a relatively new runner, I have read everything I could get my hands on and tried various training plans but neglected a vital component, base training.  I would read about long, slow runs and wonder what they had to do with running faster.  I didn't care that EVERY expert, runner, pseudo-runner talked about the importance of aerobic base training, I didn't believe it until now.  I was excited that I ran 1:40:51 for my first half marathon with no run longer than 10 miles focusing mostly on tempo runs and speed work on 30 miles per week.

 When I decided to run my second, I knew I needed to increase my volume and my long run.  Yet, I while I increased my average mileage to a peak of 40, I still hadn't embraced the LSR.  I did get my long run up to 12 miles before my 2nd half which was almost a year after my first, and dropped my PR by almost 5 minutes to 1:35:57. The second half of this race was rough and immediately after finishing I knew that I needed to increase my mileage for two reasons: I wanted to run faster at every distance and I wanted to tackle my first marathon. 

Somewhere during my formative running years, I had this idea in my head that I would/could not start marathon training until I could handle a 70 mile week. So I began my first base building cycle the day after my half, planning to spend 4-6 weeks increasing my mileage. Just to give you a baseline, the month prior to my half, I averaged 27 miles per week on 4 runs with 2 or 3 cross training days. Normally the advice is to increase volume by no more than 10% a week to reduce the chance of injury. So what did I do, I ran 72 miles the first week, followed by weeks of 72, 84, 84, 88 and 74 miles. The first 5 weeks did not include a rest day, then week 6 was done on 5 days of running as I was getting ready for a 5K. Most of these miles were a minute or more slower per mile than I was used to. No structured speed work, and an infrequent tempo run was thrown in so I wasn't sure what to expect. 

Well, after some shorter faster runs and "tapering" down to 38 miles, I dropped my 5K PR by over 2 minutes to 19:25 with very little race specific training.  I was completely sold on the power of a larger aerobic base. I am currently on week 3 of my second base cycle.  Week 1 was 86 and week 2 was 90 and it is getting easier to run these distances even with faster paces. I will do 2 more weeks and then start focusing on the Peachtree Road Race 10K before turning my attention to training for the Rock and Roll Savannah Marathon in November. While I might not recommend making as big a jump as I did, I do highly recommend running more long, slow miles!


  1. Great post. Love the explanation on how you came to such high mileage.

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  3. Cheers Sang
    You asked for suggestions can I suggest spacing, paragraphs, difficult to read otherwise, detracts from the interesting post.

    1. Thanks for your feedback! It really helps!

  4. Sorry to piggie back but I agree with Fegrig, if say someone were to need to refill their coffee in the middle of your post, they might not be able to find where they left off very easily.
    I love this post Sang Y, and am glad that you have found running and are passionate about it, I will definitely continue reading :)

    1. Thanks for the feedback! I totally see your point!

  5. Great plug for the long, slow runs!
    In the past year I've raced mostly 10km's and half marathons. My training for these has been pretty similar! (Longer runs of 14-16km each week with a total of about 55-70km per week.) However, I don't believe this is anywhere near enough for a full marathon.
    So, I've been increasing my weekly total to 90-105km and plan to run at least six long runs over 30km or more. For the long runs I don't worry too much about the pace. I agree that in the end long, slow runs build fitness, confidence... and speed!
    (My fastest 10km of 44:10 was just two weeks after a marathon.) Long training runs are goooood! (And still hard!)