Running Update – Base Building

I’m getting back into running!

It’s not easy.

Running has a tough entry curve. It takes a while to go from not running regularly to being able to run 3 miles without stopping, and the process of working up to that isn’t incredibly pleasant. I think that’s one reason so many non-runners have trouble understanding why people love running. When you first start, there’s not much to love about it. Legs burning, lungs feeling like they’re on fire, and that’s after only a couple minutes if you weren’t in good aerobic shape to start.

So here I am, with a memory of being able to run 13.1 miles at 10-minute pace, struggling to run half a mile at that speed without stopping.

Luckily for me, I have the memory of building up my running, too. I know that with patience and repeated efforts it’ll get easier and easier to breathe and I’ll run further and further comfortably.

I’m tackling the ascent with a run/rest strategy. I’ve been using the treadmill since, well, it’s January in New England. (Props to all of you out on the road.)

It helps me to decide going into the run what my rest intervals will be, to keep me from hitting “pause” too frequently and getting frustrated when the run takes forever. I’ve done .25 mile intervals with 45 seconds of rest, and .5 mile intervals with 60 seconds of rest, and then given myself speed as the variable I can change if needed (but keeping it until 11-minute pace).

Controlling too many variables in this early running stage could lead to failure, and once you’ve failed early in a workout, you’re stuck figuring out a new plan. By giving myself at least one variable that will be flexible, I can modify rather than fail if needed.

There are three variables I choose from going into a run. 

  1. Speed
  2. Distance
  3. Interval length

Sometimes my goal will be 1 and 2, so I’ll go in and do 3 miles at 10-minute pace with as many and as frequent breaks as I need.

Or I’ll pair 2 and 3 and say I’m going to do 3 miles of .5 mile increments and the speed is adjustable.

1 and 3 don’t really go together because then the variable would be the duration of the workout which conflicts with my goal to up my overall mileage and endurance.

At some point in my running I’ll get to the point where I can accurately pinpoint a reasonable goal that involves all three variables; for example I’ll know I should be able to run 3 miles at x pace without stopping and that’ll be my tempo run goal. But as I’m getting back in and building a base, it helps to give myself a built-in option for making the run easier. Giving myself one option means denying myself the other… so by saying I can rest whenever I want, I’m really saying “I’m going to put in 3 total miles at this speed, and that’s not negotiable”.

I do really well when I find my goals challenging but doable.

If you look at my screenshot of my goal progress from Garmin connect, you’ll see that I’m behind on my goal for the year, but I expected that as I work up to running 10 miles a week and then keep adding on for the half marathon training in May.

Hope your winter running is going well, and that you have a strategy you love for building your base back up after a break!



Leave a Reply