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  • Writer's pictureMary Brooking

Foundation training

Updated: Nov 24, 2023

It's that time of year when runners with Spring marathons in their diaries often start thinking about their training plans, but having a solid foundation well in advance of starting a standard 16 week training plan is a vital part of a marathon journey.


This was the subject of an article in the most recent copy of the running magazine that lands on my doormat monthly and it got me thinking that the nature of the foundation training they recommended isn't just applicable to marathon runners, we would all benefit. Here's a summary of the key messages:


Foundation training develops overall fitness, robustness, basic speed and strength. It focuses on gradually increasing volumes to prepare for more intense training phases to follow and can last as long as its needed to build necessary fitness, but often 2-3 months is ideal.


Goals for foundation training:

- Developing sustainable training patterns ie getting good habits formed with regard to the number and timing of training sessions that are manageable for the long term

- Creating a base volume of easy running resulting in key fitness adaptations for endurance running

- Increasing your body's capacity to cope with higher training volume through regular strength training

- Developing speed; an often neglected but a really important aspect of running training.


Key sessions for foundation training:

- Low intensity/easy runs (Effort 2-3/10): Get out there and do these runs!

- Towards the end of a foundation training block include a longer run every 7-10 days, keeping it easy

- Progression runs: Every 10-14 days include a run where pace is built steadily in blocks, from easy to steady to controlled discomfort

- Hilly fartlek runs: Include runs on hillier routes keeping generally relaxed but occasionally increasing effort levels to 6-7/10 on an uphill or downhill

- Foundation of speed: To begin with include 5-8 bursts of 8 second uphill sprints. As the weeks progress increase the length of the sprints

- Circuits/Strength & Conditioning: Both of these should be key weekly training sessions. Circuits can combine running with body weight exercises to build strength and athleticism. Strength training sessions (with weights or other resistance) should include split squats, lunges, hip thrusts and core exercises.



It's 21 weeks until the 2024 London Marathon, so there's still time for some foundation training for those of you with Spring 2024 marathon goals. And whatever your running goals I think foundation training will be of benefit (and believe that Hilly Fields Run Sessions are well aligned with those principles!)


Bespoke Marathon & Half Marathon training support packs are now available, tailored to your needs to help you reach your marathon or half marathon goals. Packages can include 1:1 sessions, group sessions, initial help with & ongoing modifications to your training plan, email/WhatsApp support and sports massage. Contact me to put so we can work together to create the right pack for you.


Article: Foundation Course. Tom Craggs. Runners World UK December 2023







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