There’s a few weeks left of the year, and so for many runners there probably aren’t any races that you’re gearing up for. If there is, well done! I for one am only racing with myself in these coming weeks, especially as the races around my way are very much now turning to fun run events. If you’re like me then, you may feel it’s too early to start training for your next big race a the start of next year but don’t want to loose the momentum of training that you’ve currently got into.
So what should you do?
The best answer I can give is to do some base training. This is training that will perpetuate your current fitness level, and hopefully even add to the strength and endurance you already have. Base training is a good way to keep moving, but also when done right may be able to fill in some gaps that may have been lacking in your training overall. Skipping all those hill sessions this year, won’t help you do that hilly race you’ve got planned. So starting things early or simply revisiting old training can help keep you fresh and improving whilst keeping the training open enough, so it can be adapted to lots of different goals. I like to think of it like a place holder. It’s good at what it’s doing, but there’s quite a lot of different things it can be switched out for. At the end of a good base training period you should be in a better state to tackle any goal you have set, not just the next goal you’ve set. If you’re previous base training has felt a little like that, I would urge that perhaps the base training you had set was a little to specific and that a better description could have been early weeks of the next training plan.
I’ve put together a little list of a few sessions that I think are great for putting into a base training plan, and why they may be good for you to start doing. I’ve also included by last block of base training that I completed, so you can see if I actually implemented anything I’m talking about!
The first run type that is great to do during base training, is some good trail running. Now running around woods or cross country, may not be for everyone, but it can have some good benefits for your road running. This first is that it can improve your ankle stability as trails are more uneven than roads, and having great ankle stability can decrease your risk of ankle injuries. Whats more these route are likely to be a little hillier or more multi terrain which can help build up strength and adaptability within the legs.
Secondly, a long run has is place within base training. Not just for those going onto marathon plans, but everyone will benefit from doing longer runs. Even those who want to start building speed should include long steady runs into their base training plans. As having a increased cardiovascular capacity, from these long runs, will help with stamina in shorter more intense sessions. It’s also a chance to feel like you are improving during this down time, by just adding on a few km’s every week, or exploring some new routes around your area.
Having social runs can also be a good thing to add into your base training. This could be simply that you opt to go running with a friend once a week, or a little more structured like planning to do an event together. During base training you can feel a little better just running and chatting, not hitting any personal records on all the segments you ran through on that day. It may also make you, dare I say it, better company, as you won’t be glued to your watch so much or worrying about pace. It can also be a good opportunity to go an experience something new together, especially with there being quite a few free events around. National Trust do a monthly 10km, Parkrun have weekly 5kms, Great Run Local do various distances every Sunday, so there is likely to be something new around you that you haven’t made the time to do yet.
Alright, so this last one isn’t strictly a run. But base training is a great place to actually schedule in and complete your strength training. By implementing strength training you will build up strength in your muscles, regardless of how much you run already. It’s also a good way to find and work on imbalances within the muscles that you may have, as these in turn may be contributing to your injury risk. If you’ve a right glute that is stronger than your left you may be finding that your left side gets damaged a little more. Running on this will only perpetuate the problem as you’ll still be landing and pushing off with the same power, but during strength work you can try and balance this out and hopefully give you a new running momentum. That being said it won’t solve everything instantly but can be a great way to work on things in isolation, especially if you always put off the strength work.
So, what do you think? Did I overlooked any good base training sessions? If so I’d love to hear about them. I recently came out of my last base training sessions having run the furthest I had for about eight months, as it really gave me a bit of breathing space to just do what I wanted with my running. I’ve popped the training that I aimed to do during the block down below. What I actually did was quite a bit less, but it still made me more prepared for my next block of training then I ever thought I would be. So I’m now really looking forward to what I can achieve with this new training block. #5kmtraining