Why is it all about the base?
When performing lactate tests on the recently un-coached athlete, I often find common trends suggesting that runners run too fast when they should be running slowly and too slow when they should be running fast.
And article in running.competitor.com states that: “Studies on the training intensity distribution of elite runners have found that most elite runners run at low intensities most of the time. For example, a survey of male and female runners who competed in the 2004 U.S. Olympic Trials Marathons revealed that the men did almost three-quarters of their training slower than their marathon race pace, while women did more than two-thirds of their training at slower paces.
If it works for elite athletes, there must be some truth to the theory. Two words: Cardiovascular efficiency. Running at a slower pace allows the body to work in the aerobic zone (also known as the fat burning zone). This means that the body has enough time to use oxygen to convert fat into energy. The higher the cardiovascular efficiency (the body’s’ ability to burn fat as fuel), the faster or further the human can run without hitting a wall.
When is the best time to focus on base training? During the off season or at the beginning of the season? When we focus on one aspect of training, there is always a trade off in another. In the case of base training, it would be speed. It therefore makes sense to taper off on the base training and increase speed and intensity within 6 weeks of peak season.
How much is enough? When it comes to running, between 45 – 90 mins maintaining a pace that you can hold a conversation at is enough. On a bike between 90 – 180 mins of riding at a pace that you could keep going all day would be ideal.
How can I figure out my base zone? There are various ways, ranging from doing threshold testing using your HR monitor and a 400m track which may not be the most accurate way but it certainly would give you a good benchmark to which the principals can be applied. For a more accurate and scientific testing, Adam Vital Clinic offer lactate threshold testing and Om Life offer HR Max testing. Both are very good. For more details: adamvital.ae www.omlifeme.com
What other advantages are there? Weight loss, reduced skeletal stress.
Happy training. Enjoy the base!