As any military general will tell you, a large base is always important. Well, that’s also quite appropriate for running and it’s where the analogy ends. “Base fitness” or the “base phase” is something you hear quite a lot in the running world but no one ever seems to actually explain what it means. Normally, it refers to your aerobic base which is a key performance indicator for how you’ll race over any given distance. If you want to improve your base fitness with a custom plan designed to do just that, click here!
Right now we are used to seeing the Kenyan athletes dominate over all distances from 800m to the marathon but back in the 1960s it was New Zealand and, oddly enough, pretty much all the athletes that won all the medals had the same coach and were from the same town… Their coach was a revolutionary in distance running, Arthur Lydiard.
Prior to Lydiard’s intervention the majority of distance running training was hundreds (not an exaggeration) of intervals each week with athletes completing more than 50 400m repetitions using heart rate to check for recovery with very little else in the way of ‘base miles’. Now, there were some pretty quick times run with this method of doing intervals 7 days a week, sometimes twice a day but it doesn’t come as recommended practice from us.
Lydiard essentially invented periodisation. The idea that you should train differently based on how long it is until your race and the first step on that ladder is the ‘base building phase’ – where you do lots of long, steady and easy, running in order to focus on building endurance. The idea is that this creates a foundation on top of which you build your fitness with shorter intervals, hill reps and tempo runs. Lydiard’s methods aren’t without criticism but one component of his method remains in place today and that’s the base phase.
This is the phase of training we are in right now, with no big races on the horizon until at least October (here in the UK) now is the perfect time to be improving your aerobic base. If you would like a plan specifically designed to improve your base fitness then click here!