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Putting Base Training Into Practice
It should be apparent by this point that the idea of base training as most runners understand it — lots of easy miles — is widely inaccurate. Lydiard’s based phase included a fartlek session, a steady state run, and a long run — none of which were all that “hard”. Because Lydiard’s runners ran by feel and always trained in relation to their current fitness level, these workouts equated to a moderate effort. As such, you should tailor the workouts in your base phase to match your fitness level.
If you’re a beginner, start with just 30 seconds of running at 8K effort with three to four minutes jogging recovery as your first fartlek. Your first steady state workout might be just 10 to 20 minutes. If you’re a more advanced runner, you can build from there, but always keep in mind that the effort should always be moderate.
Each of the workouts during the base training phase helpe stimulate a different system. Fartleks help improve turnover, efficiency and neuromuscular function. Steady state running improves your aerobic threshold. Long runs help build mitochondria and further capillary development, and of course, all those easy miles in-between help develop your aerobic endurance.
By working a few different energy systems during the base phase, you gradually build upon each component, ensuring that no particular energy system is left behind. By starting at your current fitness level during the base phase, you reach a high level of general fitness before transitioning to more specific strength and speed workouts.