Its All About That Base – October To January Training

First off, apologies to anyone left humming that Meghan Trainor song! But the lyrics are very relevant to my first four months of training which revolve around…you guessed, base work.

I have a tendency to run once or twice a week, at just below the pace I’d race a 10K. Short hard mileage is not the answer to build weekly distance and Jayson Cavill (my coach) soon set about changing that. But before we look through my progress, lets see what I’m progressing too.

What I’m Training For

My main race for 2017 is the Hardmoors Wainstones Full Marathon. 26.2 miles covering the equivalent of Ben Nevis in height and my longest race to date. You can see the other plans for 2017 here.

Training Goal – Building A Base For Running

I don’t just want to complete the marathon, I want to come out the other side running. Jayson recommends training at least 40 miles a week by race day to achieve this. I currently average about ten miles.

In Jaysons words, I am looking to do consistent training without injury. Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday are running days, the latter being my long easy mileage (not so long for now.) Monday, Wednesday, Friday and Sunday consist of strength and conditioning. The runs build my fitness and endurance, the S&C will help reduce the chance of injury and give me more power.

I began the new regime at around 15 miles per week. These four months were all about steady, consistent progress. How we’ll build my base is best explained in a graph.

Jayson drew something similar and it instantly clicked. The longer we spend on my foundation the stronger it will be and the higher we can build off it. The bad news? This will take a looonggg time and plenty of patience, a term I’m not familiar with.

Weeks 1-4 October – Trials And Tribulations

Probably my toughest month mentally. I made some early mistakes and pushed too hard too soon. Bad nutrition and poor knowledge of my perceived efforts made some weeks feel tough.

One run to Dalby Forest left me in bits for the days following. The ground was wet, very wet and my body wasn’t ready. I also failed to eat for hours after. Another naive mistake Jayson soon corrected me on…I now eat within 20 minutes of finishing any run.

I came out the other side though, injury free and ready to go. A general overview of distance shows my midweek runs at around 4 miles and weekend runs about 6 miles. My perceived effort should have been easy (4-5 effort.) The fact I couldn’t hold a fluid conversation suggests I spent more time at endurance than I should have. Below are a few stats from the month.

Weekly average distance: 15.3 miles - Monthly distance: 61.19 miles - Best average pace: 9:14 min/mile (4 mile easy run) - Monthly ascent gained: 2957 ft

Weeks 5-8 November – Keeping Things Easy

November looked very similar to October. Lots of easy mileage with a small amount of endurance thrown in. I stuck to the perceived efforts a little better this time.

Weekly average distance: 15.97 miles - Monthly distance: 63.89 miles - Best average pace: 9:21 min/mile (4.7 mile endurance run) - Monthly ascent gained: 2060 ft

Weeks 9-12 December – More…You Guessed It, Basework

For December we introduced tougher runs featuring a perceived effort of endurance (5-6 effort rating.) Strength and conditioning increased, taking around 40 minutes every other day.

We added a small amount of time onto a few runs but not much. Again, this was yet one more month of building my foundation. And again I made a mistake. Growing impatient I went for a 17 mile walk around the Wainstone’s marathon route…harmless I thought until the niggles kicked in a week later. But thankfully none led to injury, which for me shows the S&C sessions are helping.

The big difference in December came with more focus on elevation gain. I made the conscious decision to train more in Dalby, every weekend to be exact. If I am racing on trails I want to be training on them.

Weekly average distance: 16.63 miles - Monthly distance: 66.52 miles - Best average pace: 8:53 min/mile (5.2 mile endurance/SS run) - Monthly ascent gained: 4578 ft

Weeks 13-16 January – New Year More Speed

My runs started to pick up in length for 2017. Tuesday upto 1 hour, Thursday 50 minutes and the weekend 1 hour 15 minutes. We also upped the intensity for my shorter run…aiming for 10 minute spurts at tempo (which is 8-9 effort.)

The highlight of my month? A run around 7.5 miles of the Wainstones course. A little slow but this gave me confidence, facing some nasty climbs. My improved recovery rate was a pleasant surprise.

Times started to fall, with added intensity my one mile record dropped three weeks on the bounce. This was my first full month with no injury scares too. My foundations still aren’t in place, but we are getting close.

Weekly average distance: 19.2 miles - Monthly distance: 76.78 miles - Best average pace: 8:39 min/mile (5.8 mile endurance/tempo run) - Monthly ascent gained: 5549 ft

What Contributed To Building A Base For Running?

Many things had to change in order to build strong foundations. First off, I started eating better, swapping my processed ham sandwiches at lunch for chicken salad. Religiously eating apples, bananas and swapping chocolate flapjacks for Chia Charge. Salmon with brown rice and veggies entered my menu alongside dry cooker chicken.

Consistency made a huge difference. I am running 3 days a week to date, but need to do four a week before we can start really building on distance across the board.

Strength and conditioning in itself was completely new, that transformed my injury prone quads and dare I say it, helped me trim down and lean up.

In order for all this to work, I had to make the biggest change of all, my mind set. I had to pull back and accept a slower pace. I had to change my perception of pace, rather than seeing times I now see my runs in perceived effort. And most important of all, I have to remain patient.

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Darren Smith

Training with purpose since October 2016 Darren has gone from trailing the pack to winning local races and the times keep on falling. A true believer in hard work over natural talent he writes to help others realise their true potential. Darren's race schedule for 2018 includes the Hardmoors Wainstones marathon (1st place), Keswick Mountain Festival (10th place), Scafell Skyrace and Salomon Ring Of Steall (World Championship race.)

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