The foundation runs that every runner needs.

I ran a fairly easy 7 miles through my neighborhood this morning. It was what I had on my schedule for today (a base run), and in the interest of keeping up with my training, that’s what I ran. As I said, it was a fairly easy run and I love those types of runs because I can just let go and think or listen to music. Sometimes, I stop to take pictures and other times I just zone out and almost forget how far I’ve gone or if I’ve even gone the right way. It’s cathartic for me and somewhat spiritual. These are the training runs I live for….that and uh, blogging…

running blogger


I’ve spoken to quite a few runners who are training for their first marathon and a lot of them have said that most of their runs are like this because they focus mostly on one or two long runs with ‘easy, recovery’ or ‘base’ runs in between. And I’ve spoken with runners who have run several marathons and they tell me they love the easy runs because they spend most of their time focused on speed work and endurance.

While every training program should really be adapted to your own needs, there are some fundamentals that should be included, especially if performance is important to you. I call them foundation runs. Every house needs a strong foundation, right?

These are the main components of my foundation and what they help me with:

  • Fartlek – (Speed)
  • Hill Repeats – (Speed)
  • Tempo Run – (Speed)
  • Intervals – (Speed)
  • Base Run – (Endurance)
  • The Long Run – (Endurance)
  • Easy (recovery) Run – (Endurance)

While I don’t do all of these runs every week, I do incorporate some of them regularly and some I split up. Here’s a sample of a training week for me and the types of workouts I do:

  • Monday Off
  • Tuesday Base Run or Tempo Run – (I shoot for 5-7 miles)
  • Wednesday Base Run – (I shoot for 6-8 miles)
  • Thursday Fartlek, Intervals, Tempo or Hill Repeats – (Rotate each week)
  • Friday Off
  • Saturday Long Run – (10-24 miles, depending on the week)
  • Sunday Easy Run – (1/3 to half the distance of my long run)

All of these runs will improve your running to some degree. If you are new to the half marathon or marathon distances, you may want to concentrate mostly on base runs and long runs and maybe one speed run. (Speed will eventually improve with endurance runs as your fitness improves.)

If you’ve previously run a half or full marathon and you’d like to improve your performance, you may want to incorporate some speed work into your training. Be sure to add any speedwork in at least 5 weeks prior to your race, because it takes time for your body to adjust to speedwork and show improvements, and you don’t want to move ahead too quickly or you could risk injury.

Use the foundation runs as a guide and adjust the training program to suit you. Remember, it takes time and dedication to run a marathon, if it were easy, everyone would do it. Even some of the world’s top runners have never run a marathon but if you build a strong foundation, you can do it.

Do you follow a specific training plan? Have you altered one to suit your needs? How did you change it and why?

4 thoughts on “The foundation runs that every runner needs.

  1. Great job discussing the importance of a strong foundation for runners! It’s far more important than many runners realize.

    When I first started running marathons my training plan was pretty consistent from race to race. As my goals changed, I adjusted my plan accordingly.

    • Thank you and you make a great point about changing the plan with your goals. That would be a great post in and of itself..

  2. What a great summary of the different types of runs! I have run a few halves and one full marathon, and I am still working to figure out how to work in all of the different types of runs.

    • Thank you. When I first started training for longer races, I was thoroughly confused by the different types of runs and which ones to do so I was hoping to simplify it for anyone new to marathons. Good luck on your full and halves!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *