So, you started setting up your training plan and are working your way through step by step. First, you laid out your weekly schedule utilizing the Easy/Hard Principle to get the most benefit out of your training while still keeping your body healthy. Then, you implemented the cut back week (also known as an unloading week) so that you are focusing on four weeks at a time – 3 weeks of solid work, and then a cut back week to give your body that chance for rest and recovery it needs. By utilizing the Hard/Easy Principle and planning in your cut back week you are giving your body the best opportunity to train healthy and injury free while avoiding exhaustion.
But what is the next step once you have put those two aspects into place?
It is time to start with a base building phase. The base building phase of your plan is essential for getting your body up to the type of running mileage you want without injuring yourself. The length of your base building phase may only be one four week block at the start of your new training plan, if you are a very experienced runner who is already running great mileage; or, it might be a few of those four week blocks if you are a new runner or if you are not currently running much mileage.
The base building phase of your plan allows your body to ease into your new training plan by focusing on one stress at a time – adding distance. It has been proven that our body responds best when it is only subjected to one stressor at a time – distance or speed. If you dive head first into both distance work and speed work you will not see as many benefits as you would if you focus on only distance or speed. Because of this, it is always important that we have a base building phase to work on bringing up the distance at the start of each training plan.
During the base building phase (whether this be one set of 4 weeks or two/three sets of 4 weeks depending on your experience) the focus is on slowly increasing mileage each and every week. During this time it is important to stick to the 10% rule so as not to put too much stress on your body and cause injury. The 10% rule states that mileage should only be increased by 10% from one week to the next. So, if I was running 16 miles one week I should be able to run 16 + 1.6 = 17.6 the next week. By using the base building phase to carefully build mileage by 10% during each working week (don’t forget to use those cut back weeks) you’ll prime yourself for a happy healthy race season.
Here is an example of how you might put the Easy/Hard Principle and 4 week cycle using a cut back week in place during a base building phase where you increase mileage by 10% a week. (The actual run plans my clients get are much more detailed than this, but I wanted you all to see how it might look and how you can begin setting up your training plan.)
Once your body feels comfortable with a decent amount of distance (at least half to 3/4 the required weekly mileage) you can move out of the base building phase and spend your next four week block on adding in speed. Next week will talk about different types of speed work and which types I suggest you add in first.
Let me know –
Do you start your training plans with a base building phase?
Are you using the Easy/Hard Principle or the cut back week yet?