Ever wonder why one day you can have a great run and the next day just suck, how some people can just chat the whole race while you are suffering, breathing like a steam train?
When I started running I tried to be faster every single run, in my mind that was the only way I was going to get fitter and faster. Boy; was I wrong.
I hated running and was sore most of the time, and compared to others I was extremely unfit even though I can do 45min to and hour of intensity training. My heart rate would soar whenever I was running and I was very inconsistent in pace, stride and posture.
I didn’t know how to fix it until my husband convinced me that I need base training.
What is base training?
It is where you slow down and you run the whole time in zone 2 heart rate zone (you can have a conversation in this zone). This is an excellent time to work on your posture, pace and stride. You are also allowed to put in some walk breaks if you heart rate spikes and you need to get back into the correct zone.
It is very slow and monotonous and might be best to do it with a buddy so that you can chat the whole time.
You will start out by doing this for about 16 weeks but as a long distance runner, 80% of your runs should be in this zone.
The goal of this is to give your body a good starting block for running, you will teach your body to work more efficiently with your energy stores and for those that want to burn fat, this is the zone you want to be in. You also get your feet and legs to handle longer distances. You will also get a lot fitter whilst keeping your injury risk low.
Your goal will be to run for a period of time rather than distance helping you to keep your pace slow and steady.
It also allows you to get a lot fitter whilst keeping your injury risk low.
In the beginning, you don’t want to run longer than 1:45 at a time. You can increase this time but only after you have finished with your base training and only if you are training for more than half marathon distances. (It is best to consult a trainer at this time).
Usually, after base training, you can run continuously for a long period of time without wanting to pass out. Your recovery heart rate will have improved dramatically improving your overall fitness.
Now you can start adding some intervals, hills and fartleks.
You can also work on your breathing while doing base training. Breath in slowly, relax and controlled, if you breathing is shallow your heart rate will spike.
The other mistake a lot of new runners make is pushing too far too quickly. This usually leads to injuries and you end up losing out more than gaining.
Take is slow it is a marathon, not a sprint.
This is a small section of an article in Training peaks that explains the benefits of base training in a more scientific way
“The Many Benefits of Zone 2 Training”
In this training zone we stimulate Type 1 muscle fibres, therefore we stimulate mitochondrial growth and function which will improve the ability to utilise fat. This is key in athletic performance as by improving fat utilisation we preserve glycogen utilisation throughout the entire competition. Athletes can then use that glycogen at the end of the race when many competitions require a very high exercise intensity and therefore a lot of glucose utilisation.
Besides fat utilisation, type I muscle fibres are also responsible for lactate clearance. Lactate is the byproduct of glucose utilisation which is utilised in large amounts by fast twitch muscle fibres. Therefore, lactate is mainly produced in fast twitch muscle fibres which then, through a specific transporter called MCT-4, export lactate away from these fibres. However, lactate needs to be cleared or else it will accumulate. This is when Type I muscle fibres play the key role of lactate clearance. Type I muscle fibres contain a transporter called MCT-1 which are in charge of taking up lactate and transporting it to the mitochondria where it is reused as energy. Zone 2 training increases mitochondrial density as well as MCT-1 transporters. By training Zone 2 we will not only improve fat utilisation and preserve glycogen but we will also increase lactate clearance capacity which is key for athletic performance.
An endurance athlete should never stop training in zone 2. The ideal training plan should include 3-4 days a week of zone 2 training in the first 2-3 months of pre-season training, followed by 2-3 days a week as the season gets closer and 2 days of maintenance once the season is in full blown.”
Zone 1 – EASY:
• 50-60% of Max HR
• Benefits: Reduce blood pressure and cholesterol, ideal for low-intensity programs and recovery.
• Calorie Burn: 3-7 per minute.
• Effort: Very light
• How it Feels: Relaxed and easy pace
• Good for: Improving overall health and recovery
Zone 2 – FAT BURN:
• 60-70% of Max HR
• Benefits: Recommended for weight loss and calorie burn, ideal for fitness beginners.
• Calorie Burn: 7-12 per minute.
• Effort: Light
• How it Feels: Comfortable pace; you can easily carry on a conversation
• Good for: Aiding recovery and improving endurance
Zone 3 – CARDIO:
• 70-80% of Max HR
• Benefits: Improve aerobic and cardio fitness, ideal for increasing endurance over long distances.
• Calorie Burn: 12-17 per minute.
• Effort: Moderate
• How it Feels: Moderate pace; you will have a difficult time carrying on a conversation
• Good for: Aerobic exercise and improving aerobic fitness
Zone 4 – TRAINING:
• 80-90% of Max HR
• Benefits: Improve anaerobic fitness and muscle strength, ideal for athletes who are training and building muscle.
• Calorie Burn: 17-20 per minute.
• Effort: High
• How it Feels: Fast pace, heavy breathing, burning muscles
• Good for: Anaerobic training and increasing aerobic fitness
Zone 5 – MAX EFFORT:
• 90-100% of Max HR
• Benefits: Improve maximum performance and speed, ideal for short bursts of intense activity.
• Calorie Burn: 20+ per minute.
• Effort: Maximum
• How it Feels: Sprint pace, laboured breathing. You won’t be able to sustain this level for very long
• Good for: Muscular power and speed, improving anaerobic capacity