Building a Base for Running


Building up running stamina is a process that requires you to develop a solid foundation upon which you can train for a specific goal or race. By building a base for running, you increase blood volume, improve glycogen storage and develop stronger connective tissue. Once you have built this base, you’ll be amazed how fit and healthy you feel and how ready you are for the running challenges that lie ahead.

If you’re new to running, building up running stamina is a process that involves running easy miles at a conversational pace. A conversational pace is one where you can run and hold a conversation at the same time, without being out of breath. As a complete beginner, running one to two miles several times per week and increasing the distance gradually helps you to build your base.

For more experienced runners, base building is likely to include easy-effort and long-distance running, mixed with a few more physically demanding sessions, such as hill runs, tempo runs and fartlek training. The secret is to find the right balance between your easy and harder workouts in order to build your stamina without fatiguing your body.

How to increase running stamina and speed

If you want to build up running stamina to prepare for a challenge, a race or the season ahead, here are a few simple steps you should follow:

  1. Don’t start too strong
  2. The key to successfully building a base for running is to train with enough intensity to boost your fitness but not train so hard as to risk injury or burnout. When base training, you should not look to go over 90% of your maximum heart rate. Rather than short, fast runs, keep your runs long and slow as that builds the mileage in your legs without your overexerting yourself. Mix those longer runs in with a tempo run and fartlek sessions to work the cardiovascular system and stimulate the fast-twitch muscle fibres.

    To make sure you’re not blurring the lines between building a base and a concerted training programme, we advise you to gauge the intensity of your workout by feel, rather than pace. That allows you to run at the right level for the particular day, without pushing yourself harder than you should.

  3. Build your distance slowly
  4. Building up running stamina is all about starting out with small distances that increase incrementally. Following a structured training plan helps you to build your mileage slowly and avoid the temptation to do too much too soon. For some runners, building a base can be a frustrating process, as they want to progress too quickly, but you should always repeat the same distance before moving onto the next, and ensure that you’re completely comfortable with the distances you’re running. We recommend increasing your long run by about one to two miles every couple of weeks.

  5. Mix up your workouts
  6. During base training, your pace should be conversational and the vast majority of your weekly workouts should consist of easy aerobic runs and long runs, where your effort doesn’t exceed 60–80% of your maximum heart rate, to keep it well below your lactate threshold. However, once you reach your third week of base training, throwing in an occasional workout that pushes you to your lactate threshold, such as a tempo run or fartlek workout, will improve your stamina and fitness, and do so more quickly.

  7. Train between four weeks and four months
  8. Depending on your experience as a runner, your fitness goals, and what you’re training for, a base period can last anywhere from four weeks all the way up to four months. One month is the minimum we recommend, if you’re serious about building up running stamina.

    During that period, your weekly mileage can be as much as 120% of the distance you’d complete during in-season training, but it should be done at a much slower pace. Those high-mileage weeks should be combined with much easier runs when you feel fatigued, to ensure you give your body plenty of time to recover.

  9. Build muscular strength
  10. There are no fast, weak runners. If you want to achieve your goals, then you should incorporate some strength-building work into your base training. Both lifting weights and running fast require the use of muscle fibres, so whether you’re planning to run a marathon or a 5K, you should certainly make time to incorporate some weights. Weight work will make you feel more powerful when you run, and improve your ability to recover quickly, both of which are essential for the challenges that lie ahead.

Increase running speed and stamina with ASICS

At ASICS, we feature a premium collection of running shoes, running clothing and running accessories to support you as you build your base.