PHOTO CREDIT: Diana Swanevelder

Through my years of running I have learnt that runners live by the phrase, “Once a runner, always a runner”. Although this is an admirable motto to live by, reality will unfortunately remind us that not everybody were born elite athletes. Getting back on the trail after an off season or an injury requires a solid base training period.

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The goal of base training is to prepare yourself for the next phase of higher intensity training and distance increase, with the least possible number of injuries. Muscle strength and bone density is improved gradually and therefore it is referred to as the muscle endurance phase.

This is a pre-season preparation phase and should last anything from four to eight weeks to build aerobic fitness by walking, running,swimmimg or cycling. Spend time to condition your body by incorporating strength training exercises and stretches. This phase should also include enough resting days for the body to fully recover in order to prevent overtraining injuries and burnout.

During physical activity the cardiovascular system (CVS) delivers oxygen from the lungs to each muscle fibre by means of surrounding capillaries. Aerobic base training speeds up this process to increase the rate of energy production needed for running.

Keypoints to follow:

  • Start slowly and steadily
  • Cross train
  • Increase distance only by 10 percent every two weeks
  • Decrease speed to increase distance
  • Strength training and conditioning

No one can race on an empty tank. Make sure you are re-fuelled for each season by starting strong. Remember, you should control your running and not the other way around!

Article by Lené van Heerden (Physiotherapist)
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