Marathon Base Training + Weekly Workouts

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What is a running base & why do you need one? I shared how I approach base training, but still avoid training burnout!

Before my training kicks off for the Boston Marathon in January, I’m working to build some base mileage so I’ll go into training a little better prepared to help avoid big jumps in mileage. (And hopefully avoid injuries as a result!) I’m feeling so good and so happy with my running lately, after being in a major funk with injuries most of the summer.

What is a running base?

A running base is foundational level of mileage to prepare you for the intensity of a progressive training plan, including increasing mileage and intensity. Basically, you’re getting your body ready for the harder stuff, to help you prevent injury, burnout and to allow you to push harder.

How long does it take to build a running base

It depends on your goal race and training plan, but it can be anywhere from 6-12 weeks. My Boston Marathon training plan last year had me start with a base of 30 miles per week. I was already at that mileage so I didn’t purposely build up to it. This year, coming off a plantar fasciitis injury and some sacrum problems, I definitely need to build a base. I’m doing about a 10-12 week build-up, hoping to be consistently at 40-45 miles when training kicks off.

Marathon Base Training Schedule

While there are formal training schedules to build a base before marathon training, I’m not doing anything structured. I’m just increasing my long run by 1-2 miles each week and increasing one of my mid-week runs by about 1 mile. That keeps it simple and it also helps me avoid the mental burnout of being on a structured training plan for too long. (My Boston Marathon training plan is 18 weeks.)

Running Base Training Schedule

Here’s what the first five weeks of my informal base training schedule looks like. I run 5-6 days a week and started with my long run at 9 miles. Midweek runs vary from 4 miles to 7.5 miles.

  • Week 1: 32.3 miles (details here)
  • Week 2: 31.4 miles (details here)
  • Week 3: 36.1 miles (details here)
  • Week 4: 36.9 miles (details below)
  • Week 5: 40.5 miles (projected mileage for this week)

You’ll see how it gradually increases and ebbs and flows just a bit. I track nearly all my runs in Strava so I can look back at my training log and avoid potential pitfalls, like increasing my mileage too quickly or not taking enough recovery days.

Last week’s workouts

M – 4.4 miles, 7:27 pace


W- 7 miles, 7:42 pace

Th – 6.2 miles, 8:03 pace (including 3 miles of fartleks with Kelli)

F – 4.1 miles, 8:21 pace + short weightlifting session

  • I got new running shoes so I did a short run to test them. Even though they’re the same Nikes I always buy, I always like to be careful with a new pair!

Sa – 10.6 miles,  8:31 pace with Kelli, Clare, Carrie and Christian

Su – 4.5 miles, 8:07 pace

Total Miles: 36.9 miles

How I’m Feeling: Really good! My plantar fasciitis is a little more finicky than it’s been for the past couple weeks, so I need to continue to do all the things that helped it improve in the first place. I’m also trying to strength train 2-3x a week (on my own, not Crossfit, for various reasons)

running base training

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    6 responses to “Marathon Base Training + Weekly Workouts”

    1. I need to look at a calendar again. My training plan is 18 weeks too, but I thought it started Dec17, lol. Hugely important for me is going to be keeping up my glute/hip/hamstring PT/strength training. Aiming for doing some 2x/week. I started slacking on it recently because I’m not training for anything – but still running 40+ miles a week. Welp, I was at the sports chiro yesterday because my hamstring was acting up. Thank God for Graston, ART, and dry needling 🙂

    2. Hi – I used to run A LOT, and then started CrossFit. I’ve been doing CrossFit (almost exclusively) for about 2-3 years now, and thinking of getting back into running (to train for a race. yikes!). I’d love to hear why you decided to eliminate CrossFit from your training. Is it time? intensity? other?

      Love following along, and hoping your Boston training will inspire my own (not Boston bound, but race TBD). Thanks!

      • It was mostly the lack of control over the WODs! I couldn’t always do what was programmed and then expect to go do a 20 miler two days later or a tempo run the next morning. I still lifted throughout training, but mostly on my own!

        Some gyms may have been more accommodating with scaling or changing the workouts so I could keep going, but it didn’t work out well at mine!

    3. I’ve been dealing with metatarsalgia ever since Boston in my right foot. It was recommended to me by my chiropractor to get custom orthotics. I’ve heard differing opinions and I’m wondering what yours is? Have you ever considered them or been told to have them or avoid them? Thanks so much in advance!

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