Updated: Feb 1
Base Phase Training The idea of a 'base phase' is to slowly and steadily build fitness and conditioning over weeks of consistent training. There is no need to include recovery weeks because your weekly training load should be set at a level that allows you to finish each week without too much fatigue. As you build fitness, your weekly aerobic workouts will become faster, and as a result, you'll be covering more distance per week over the same amount of time. Stick to Zone 2 or below.
The 1st image below shows a breakdown of the time spent in each heart rate zone during a three month base phase. The left-hand side which has the two most dominant bars represents zone 1 and 2. Both zones make up approximately 80% of of base phase training. The second image is taken from my Strava and shows my progression over a fortnightly 5km race during my base phase. The two things you should notice; 1. I got faster, 2. My heart rate was lower on the last one.
I was able to achieve this progression in fitness and conditioning by continuing to develop my aerobic system which is the key to becoming a good endurance athlete. To read more about heart rate training check my blog HERE.
Be Flexible. The 'base phase' is also used to figure out the level of training you can tolerate on a consistent weekly basis. If you need to take a few days or a week off training because you were over-ambitious at the start of your program that isn't an issue, you should take note and try a slightly reduced weekly training load for the next couple of weeks. The goal is to understand what your training threshold is before you start your specific event preparation phase.
Training Races Training races aren't a necessity to your program, however including short races in your 'base phase' can be good for two reasons:
1. Racing helps break-up the repetitive and sometimes monotonous routine of training. 2. Racing gives you honest feedback on how much fatigue you have in your system.
It is relatively easy to continue aerobic training even when you are extremely tired, in which case, overtraining can go unnoticed during the 'base phase'. If you find you aren't able to complete your race at a level you would expect you may need to take a few days off.
Dr Will O'Connor
Educating and inspiring athletes to train smarter