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Training tips: Build an aerobic base

It's never too early to get a head start on future training and now is an ideal time to begin preparing for upcoming success by building a strong aerobic base.

Young woman running outdoors in a city park


Spring races may still seem a long ways away, but it’s never too early to get a head start on future training. Now is an ideal time to start planning and preparing for upcoming success.

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While conditions may not be ideal–it’s getting colder and darker every day–late fall and the early part of winter is the perfect opportunity to kick start your spring training. One of the best ways to do this is to build an aerobic base.

In terms of running and training, a base refers to your cardiovascular system and more specifically, the ability to efficiently transport blood and oxygen to the working muscles. This is the foundation upon which speed and endurance are built.

Building an aerobic base involves running easy or at a moderate effort for continuous periods. This trains the body to increase its cardiovascular efficiency and output. Over time, the body adapts and requires less energy and effort to keep you going. It also allows you to train at a greater intensity for a longer duration while putting minimal stress on the muscular system.

Building a base is best accomplished simply by running a bit more and adding more mileage to your regular routine. Adding a single extra session of running–aim for 20-30 minutes–will significantly improve your base fitness and aerobic capacity.

If you currently run two to three times a week, try adding an extra day and gradually build up to 30 minutes at an easy pace. If you already run four to six times a week,  try adding 10-15 minutes to a few of your existing runs. To build endurance, schedule time for a weekly long run that makes up 20-30 per cent of your total mileage.

Because base building is mostly easy running, it carries much less risk of injury. However, be careful not to increase your mileage too quickly. The 10 per cent “rule” whereby weekly mileage should increase by no more than 10 per cent is generally effective for avoiding undue stress and injury.

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