How To Build A Running Base To Excel

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Building a running base is done by consistently running the same mileage at a steady pace over the course of a few weeks. How To Build A Running Base To Excel

Those looking to kick up their running to the next gear need to have a foundation in place when it comes to their mileage. Having a solid running base is important when setting eyes on a larger distance goal. But how exactly does one build a running base?

What Exactly Is A Running Base?

Before we answer that, it’s important to understand what a running base is at all.

A running base, or base training, is the concept of working on a mastering a foundation to later reach a peak of performance.

A running base varies when it comes to the distance for each individual runner. For beginners, it means being able to run that steady one to four miles. And to so do without extensive effort.

Think conversational pace.

For other runners, this might mean six to eight miles, an ideal base for picking up a half marathon training plan. Others might have 10 plus miles under their belt as their base for more endurance events.

Regardless of the mileage, a running base takes time to establish. This is generally anywhere from six to 12 weeks.

First introduced by New Zealander Arthur Lydiard who was known for creating Olympic champions, it is best to build a base for new runners and those who are making a comeback.

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How To Build A Running Base

Training to build up a running base should be done before training for a specific event like a 5k or half marathon.

Building a base is more about consistency in running than pushing limits and setting records. It’s more like a long, slow run. And “long” is defined by what that specific runner’s goals are.

Pick Your Frequency And Mileage

The first thing to do is to set constants.

This includes the number of runs done per week. For example, plan for three or four runs per week.

Stick to this in order to properly build that base. This means don’t run less because that endurance isn’t really building. Don’t run more because that leads to overuse or other injuries since the body won’t be able to handle the load.

Also, set the mileage desired. This could be running three miles consistently or eight as a standard base.

To decide on this, reflect on both short term and long term goals. Newbies might only want to have a strong three-mile base in order to one day run longer distance. A more advanced runner might want to have 10-miles be there base as they start thinking about a marathon or ultra.

Don’t Stress About Pace

There is no need to be glued to a Garmin when building a base in running.

Sure, track the runs. But don’t stress about the pace.

These runs should be more about running at a comfortable pace that feels good. Think of it as a pace that can be done over and over again and actually seems doable.

This isn’t the time to really push the pace.

Speed work can come later after endurance is built and that set distance is done over and over again with ease.

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Train Smart

Building a running base requires some knowledge about training practices.

This includes taking days off to recover. This is especially important for those new to running or coming back after an injury. Take those rest days.

Also learn to foam roll, which helps loosen to muscles and get rid of the lactic acid buildup that causes muscle cramping.

Depending on the mileage, ice bath for long distance runners is popular when marathon training.

Always remember to stretch before and after a run.

When building a running base, it’s important to also cross train. This means doing another form of exercise to work out different muscle groups.

This helps to increase overall fitness, making the runner stronger.

Examples of cross-training include cycling, swimming, elliptical, and strength training.

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Start The Right Time Of Year

It’s important to time base training to the right time of year.

This means starting to build a base not when expected snow storms are in the forecast for the remainder of the month.

A great time of the year to start is in the spring. Mild temperatures that aren’t too cold or hot is favorable. By the time there is a solid base it might be full on summer. This comes with it a whole other set of challenges but at least that base is there.

The same is true for starting in the late summer, early fall. Just be mindful that winter running is a whole another ball game. But there are plenty of runners who continue trekking on all winter long.


  1. Jason Saltmarsh , The Importance of Building a Running Base, Running Website
  2. Running for Sweets, How To Build a Solid Running Base, Running Blog