For today’s newsletter, Coach Sandi Nypaver dives into many of the things she considers when planning out someone’s base (first) phase of training as well as some of the first speed workouts to add in. Before the speed workouts get longer or faster paces are added, it’s important to make sure someone’s body is prepped to handle that, which is why she’s careful with how she gives and words workouts. We hope these tips help you get started off on the right foot as you work through your training goals!

“Today I’d like to dive into a topic that’s especially relevant for many of you right now: base phase training and the introduction of those crucial first weeks of speed workouts. As a coach, I consider several factors when guiding my athletes through this phase, so let’s explore the key points together.

Building Your Base 📈:

One of the cornerstones of base phase training is the gradual and safe increase in mileage. For some of you, maintaining a solid base during the offseason might mean minor mileage adjustments. However, if you’re starting from scratch, it’s essential to spend more time building that base.

After a few weeks of easy miles, some runners may be ready to add in speed workouts, while others should focus on building up their base before incorporating speed. It’s important to note that strides can be an excellent starting point for speed work, but they should be introduced cautiously, especially if you haven’t done any speed work in a while.

When introducing strides, I recommend starting with two to three sessions a week, spaced out to gauge your body’s response. Remember, it’s all about good form before speed, so ease into it.

Fartlek Workouts 😎:

In the initial stages, my philosophy often leans towards fartlek workouts. Fartleks are fantastic because they allow you to focus solely on form without worrying about specific paces. This is crucial to ensure that you’re not pushing your body too hard too soon.

For some runners, I start with short intervals and longer rests, like 10-15 times 30 seconds fast with 90 seconds easy or 10-12 times 1 minute fast with 1 minute easy. For others, I adapt the intervals and recovery based on their needs, considering factors like injury proneness and existing base mileage.

Honing in on Individual Needs 🤝:

I don’t believe in a one-size-fits-all approach. It’s important to tailor your training based on your unique circumstances. Factors such as your existing base, injury history, responsiveness to different types of workouts, and your target race should all play a role in your training plan.

Some runners benefit from shorter intervals for an early speed boost, while others may excel at longer tempos right from the start. The goal is to find what works best for you, considering your strengths and weaknesses as a runner.

Hill Work for Strength 🏔:

For many of my road and track runners, I often incorporate hill work in the early stages of training. Short hill intervals, such as 6 times 1 minute or 8 times 30 seconds, can be immensely beneficial. These workouts build strength, particularly in the glutes, which can later be transferred to flat terrain for increased speed.

Variety and Avoiding Overtraining ❌:

The key during the base phase is to introduce a variety of workouts gradually. Mixing in strides, fartleks, and hill repeats can help prevent overtraining and keep your training engaging. Pay close attention to how your body responds and adjust your schedule accordingly.

Critical Velocity Workouts 💨:

Critical velocity workouts are another tool in your training arsenal. They can boost speed quickly but should be approached with caution. Like fartleks, they break up the monotony of long runs, allowing you to reset and maintain good form.

Spacing Your Workouts:

Remember to give your body ample time to recover during the base phase. I typically recommend two to three days of recovery between workouts, especially when simultaneously building mileage and incorporating speed workouts.

Easy Runs 😌:

Finally, I can’t stress this enough: take your easy runs easy. Even when you’re trying to add in speed workouts to your training routine, it’s extremely important to have easy runs in your plan. Don’t obsess over your pace; instead, focus on maintaining good form. This time of year is perfect for working on the finer details that will keep you strong and injury-free in the long run.

In closing, base phase training and introducing speed workouts can be complex, but it’s a journey worth embarking on. Experiment, trust yourself, and consider your unique circumstances when crafting your training plan. As the saying goes, good form before speed, and remember that variety is your ally. Happy running!