The Basics Of Base Training For Runners

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Jan. 13, 2014
  • Updated Jan. 14, 2014 at 10:19 AM UTC

Misconceptions About Base Training

As the concept of base work and high-volume training spread, many misconceptions about how to properly implement it into a well-rounded training program emerged. Not all coaches agreed with the specifics of Lydiard’s approach, so they tweaked certain elements to better fit their training philosophy. Normally, this wouldn’t be a big issue, but  two problems emerged.

First, Lydiard didn’t believe in writing general, one-size-fits-all training schedules which are prevalent today, and as a coach, I can definitely understand his hesitation. As such, he didn’t clearly document a specific template schedule to follow. Much of what we know now about the base training phase comes from his lectures and schedules of the athletes he coached. As such, there is a lot of room for interpretation and as a result, confusion.

RELATED: What’s the best approach for base-building?

Second, Lydiard wrote two books, Run to the Top and Running the Lydiard Way, which somewhat contradicted each other in regard to whether you perform faster workouts during the base phase. For whatever reason, most coaches and athletes didn’t believe that athletes should be doing any specific workouts other than just running during the base phase.

This concept became the prevalent approach to base training: lots of easy, slow miles and no workouts. In fact, it’s what most runners today consider a base phase. Unfortunately, that’s not what Lydiard intended and it’s not what recent developments in training science have found to be ideal.

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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