Five Changes for 2016 #1: Build a Better Base

Build a BaseCh-ch-ch-changes….oh yeah, David Bowie is in my head right now for obvious reasons. I suspect many of us have been listening to his timeless music this week…

But there’s another reason. 2016 is my year for changes. Not New Year Resolutions – I’m not one for those – but changes that I needed to make for my health, for my family, for me. Truth is that not all of these are changes I’ve started in 2016, and some have been in progress for a few months, but now is a good time to share them.

I planned to write about all of them in one post, but it became so lengthy even before getting through all 5, that there’s no way even the most dedicated of my three readers (hi, mum!) would get through it.

The first of my changes, one that began at the end of November, is building a better base. Runners should be familiar with base building, but if you’re not, think of it as building the foundation of a house. You need a strong foundation before you can start building the walls and putting on the roof, or your house is going to be structurally weak and will fall down sooner or later. Running is much the same; a weak base puts runners at risk of injury.

This is exactly what happened to me. You’d think that, having been a runner for 30 years, I’d know better, but I think this was actually my downfall as I thought I could take short cuts. After time off (usually for injury), I’d try to come back too quickly. Sure, I’d build a little base, but it was never enough to keep me out of trouble. I’d race too soon, jump right back into speedwork, and the results spoke for themselves.

So this time, I’m building a base like a newbie runner:

  1. max 10% increase per week, with a drop-down every 4th week (I started at 15 miles 8 weeks ago and will run 26 this week)
  2. easy running only
  3. no racing
  4. no speedwork
Base Building

I need to think more like this guy

My inner laziness is actually enjoying this. All my runs are easy! But, now that I’m 8 weeks in, I plan to start adding in some short speed sets and gradually work up to a weekly tempo and interval workout. But at that point, I’ll stop the mileage increase so my body only has to deal with one stress at a time: right now, that’s distance; when I move into the sharpening phase for Cherry Blossom on April 3, the stress will be speed.

So that’s the first of my 5 changes for 2016. Next week I’ll talk about how I’m learning to #RunSmart!

What changes are you making for 2016?


  1. Sounds like a great plan and something I am currently doing as well. With the leg issues I experienced, trying to get my running legs back and doing so in a smart way. One of my big areas of focus for 2016 is a strong stretching and foam rolling routine. I have not been committed to this like I should in the past and I think my troubles resulted! Looking forward to following your training for IMMT this year! That is one I am considering for my second….possibly in 2017! BTW…are you considering Raleigh 70.3 again for this year?

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      I neglect the foam roller too. I’ve moved my rollers into the family room so I see them more often, and rolling is part of my routine before my morning runs, in part because it helps me wake up! I’m not doing Raleigh 70.3 this year – checking out Chattanooga 70.3 instead. I wanted something a little early (it’s in May) to try to avoid the heat!

  2. Calesse Cardosi says:

    Love it! Very smart. I’ll be joining you at Cherry Blossom…and hopefully a number of more garage spins soon. They’re more fun than I anticipated. And you feel so accomplished by 8:30 on a weekend morning.

    • Alison Gittelman says:

      I’m glad you’re enjoying the garage spins! I look forward to them, too. It’s much easier with a group!


  1. […] far, my plan to build a better base has been going well; all my runs are at a relatively easy pace, but I mix up the terrain, making […]

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