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Why I’m using this time to Base Build for Autumn Marathons

I recently listened to Shalane Flanagan on the ‘For the Long Run’ podcast talking about using this opportunity to ‘stuff the silo’ – and whilst I had to google what that phrase actually meant, I understood what her intentions were. She was talking about how important a great base was for her Bowerman Track Club runners, they ‘stuff the silo’ with mileage, ensuring they are very aerobically fit.

With all of the spring races postponed or cancelled, there’s a big focus on autumn/fall races…and a totally unique opportunity to run multiple World Marathon Majors back to back. My plan is to run the Chicago Marathon as my goal race and then New York for fun.

For those of us that have big goals for our autumn marathons, this is actually the perfect time to Build a Base before starting marathon training. I’ve been seriously slacking with my running since starting my new job and getting plantar fasciitis, and so easing back into the mileage with plenty of easy runs, getting me into a good position to start Chicago specific training in a few months.

The key goal for a ‘base’ is to improve endurance and build aerobic fitness. To achieve this you want to include a gradual increase in milage, some speed work and a longer run each week.

Base Buidling

Here are some of the reasons why Base Building is perfect for right now…

Coming back from injury – it can be all too tempting to jump straight into hardcore training, often doing too much too soon. Using a base building plan helps gradually increase the mileage safely and sensibly.

Stress Management – a lot of us run as a stress reliever, and marathon training isn’t always stress free. Including plenty of easy runs, reducing the pressure on each run and not doing many/any super strenuous workouts should help take any stress away from running and making it purely about reaping the mental and physical health benefits. Even the harder workouts are still able to be adjusted to suit you your own stress, fitness, and energy levels each week.

Building mileage – Often we reduce our mileage between training cycles, and then ramp them up during the 12/16/20 week training blocks. By utilising the next 10-12 weeks to build a solid base mileage, you’ll be in a great position to begin with the marathon or half marathon specific workouts.

Routine – right now, we’re all out of our usual routines. Following a rough plan for your runs might help with a bit of routine. We’re lucky in the UK that we’re still allowed outside to exercise once each day, and so having a training plan helps build up that daily exercise, keeping you in the routine of running regularly over the next few weeks/months before we get back to normality (hopefully sooner rather than later!).

Nutrition – something that a lot of us get wrong, this is the ideal time, when we have a little more time at home, to work on our pre, post and mid-run fueling. Give my new podcast Cook Eat Run a listen for nutrition advice specific to runners!

Work on your weaknesses – have you always said you need to add in more strength, or do more yoga? This is the ideal time to add that into your training and make them an integral part of your week… whilst we’re all at home more, obviously any cross training sessions will be done at home so might not reflect our actual cross training come marathon season, but it might just show you what you’re able to do in your living room.

Practice – although we’re out of our usual schedules, this is a good time to see what might be able to manage when it comes to number of runs per week, days with more miles, cross-training and strength/yoga sessions on top of your weekly mileage.

Base Buidling

Here’s a rough idea of the plan I’m following, feel free to swap one or two of the 3 mile easy runs for cross-training like cycling, spinning or another form of cardio fitness. My goal is to also add in 2 home strength workouts, either with Tom or following an online training session.

I’ve linked the Google Doc here.

Building Base spring training plan

Whilst I’m planning on following this plan, I’m also going to be flexible, knowing that this is a very stressful time for a lot of us. I’m back at work at the hospital on Monday, and although I know we aren’t at the peak yet, I know our wards are filling up and it’s likely to be very busy. My priority right now is work and doing the best I can to help the patients and my colleagues, and my own health (plus the health of those around me!) So if running has to take a backseat, then I’m totally ok with that.

Given that there’s a lot of worry and anxiety going on, having running as a stress-reliever is going to be more crucial than ever.

We’ve also ordered an at-home spin bike, which is linked to an online app that allows you to take group spin classes at home. A number of my friends have the app too which means we can ‘ride together’ virtually. I love spin classes for a fun, sweaty workout and the perfect way to alleviate stress!

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