Base Zone 2 Aerobic Run Toolkit: Everything you need to know

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Want to become an endurance machine? Or are you looking to hit a 5k PB? It’s all about the base, ‘bout the base… base training, that is! You can do all the speedwork in the world, but if you’re not putting it on top of a solid foundation of consistent, aerobic base training, you’re wasting your energy. We’re talking with Mike Trees about how everyone – from beginners to the most committed runners – can up their running game with aerobic base training. And yes, we’re going to hit on anaerobic race training, too, for all you speed nuts. 

Base training is how you build your aerobic engine – the bigger your engine, the better your blood flow, the more efficiently the blood moves through your muscles and the more you can run without lactic acid buildup. Every runner should dedicate a considerable proportion of their effort to building a solid base. When you’re base training, aim to do at least 80% at a nice, comfortable pace. This is the foundation for your aerobic fitness, and it’s essential to any running goals.

Once you have a solid base, then you can apply your anaerobic race training on top. How much base training do you need? Well, it varies. For an event like the Ironman, you’ll probably want a year of base training. For a 5k, you’ll want to spend 8-10 weeks. After you’ve built your base, you can begin your speedwork or interval training. That’s when you’ll build up your fast-twitch muscle fibers and be able to dial in on those speed-specific goals.

I hear you saying, “but, speedwork is how I get fast! I want to be faster, so I don’t need to do all this base training.”

Nope. You’re wrong.

Think of your body like a car. If you have a car with a small engine, you can floor it and hit 100km/hr. That’s as fast as your car will go. But with a bigger engine, you can go faster. Floor it and you’ll hit 160km/hr. Your body is exactly the same. If you spend the time building up your aerobic engine, when it comes time to floor it (on race day), then you have a higher capacity. Don’t underestimate the power of base training! If you think you don’t need this base training stuff, you’re missing the fact that you can make your engine bigger!

Your exact race training program will vary based on your own goals, pace and time available and you’ll definitely find Mike’s race training plans an amazing resource. No matter what pace you’re training at, aim to grab an extra hour of sleep for every hour you train – your body needs it. 

What if you don’t have race goals? Can you just base train all year long? Yup, sure thing. It’ll keep you healthy. Might be boring, though. We’ve warned you.

Why is base training so effective in building your aerobic capacity? You have to teach your body to be an efficient running machine. When you exercise aerobically, you build your capillaries, make your muscles more efficient and make your heart stronger as well. And when your heart is stronger, it pushes blood around more effectively. All of these efficiencies are crucial for a fit body. We see a lot of beginners training for a 5k and they think it’s all huffing and puffing, but it shouldn’t be. At least, not if you do your base training!

We’ve only scratching the surface. If you want to learn more about mitochondria, perceived exertion, heart rate monitors and the oh-so-important cool down, you’re just going to have to listen to the whole podcast episode. It’s jam packed full of deep-dives that we just couldn’t fit into a blog post.

And if this kind of thing is your jam, you’ll want to sign up for our newsletter. We keep up on all the latest running trends and break it down for you, nice and digestible. You’ll love it.

What You Will Learn

  • What base training exactly is.
  • How to build volume properly
  • Why does base training help
  • What being aerobic is vs anaerobica
  • When to use it
  • What pace is the right pace for base training
  • And so much more!

Episode Highlights and Timestamps

[02:45] Going back to August: Mike’s favorite training sessions

[06:22] Running with a goal

[08:30] What’s base training?

[09:44] Doing meaningful training as endurance athletes

[15:06] Why you should not discount the aerobic base stage

[17:43] Base training and oxygen uses

[19:38] The benefits of mitochondria and capillary development

[23:54] Calculating your maximum heart rate

[27:11] The five-zone heartbeat models to train in

[29:57] Base training plus strength and conditioning

[37:20] Cooldown: Pace or perceived exertion?

[39:48] Novice runners mistakes when running

[43:49] Doing body checks when running

Notable Quotables

Question Of The Episode

“In a race your heart rate monitor breaks, what would you use: Pace or perceived effort?”



This episode is brought to you by NRG – Coaching which is Mike Trees’ coaching service. Mike coaches beginners to pros and all levels in between.

No one is too fast and no one too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve.

They focus on 1,500m to marathon running and triathlon training.

NRG Coaching is constantly overbooked, so Instagram and this new podcast venture, gives Mike and the rest of his NRG coaching team a way to reach out to more people.

Contact mike and his team for more info


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