Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Back to Base Camp

In the gospel according to Arthur Lydiard, a heavy mileage base shall deliver you to salvation, err, a PR. As an Arthur Lydiard convert and now devout follower, put simply, I believe in the base.

Let me explain.

Last October, just days before the Army Ten Miler – a race I planned to use as a tune up to test my fitness before the New York City Marathon – I remember moving through a nine mile run that contained a particularly torturous segment of mile repeats. With two intervals to go, I stood at a stoplight waiting for traffic to halt to start that penultimate repeat, willing myself on, knowing that I had two steep climbs to tackle in those 1600m. When I clicked the watch again one mile away, my eyebrows shot up when I saw that I had just run my fastest repeat of the set, on arguably the toughest segment of the loop.“Thank you, base building,” I said to myself.

On several occasions through that training cycle, I remember talking to my dad and saying, “I just can’t seem to tire my legs out. No matter how far I run or how fast, there’s no fatigue or soreness the next day.” Thank you, base building.

At about this time last year, I gathered my wits about me and prepared to embark on a journey to what I dubbed “Base Camp.” I vowed to take up the Arthur Lydiard tenets to “just run miles” for two months. I picked a number – 400 – and decided I would cover that many miles between June 1 and July 31.

The result?

I shaved a cool 13 minutes off my marathon PR and dipped under three hours for the first time in three attempts.

Readers of this blog know that one of my favorite analogies is to equate our training to fashioning a sword. First you have to forge that steel blade before you can sharpen it and that starts by building the base. Without sugarcoating it, it’s hard work. There were weeks that I existed in shades of exhaustion. I ground through certain runs and flew threw others. I covered the same loop on consecutive days with dramatically different results. I doubted, I questioned, I grumbled. But, in the end, when I took to the starting line on November 6, I toed it with a confidence I never had before.

And so, with June 1 approaching on Friday, the journey back to base camp begins. Except instead of looking up to see New York City as the summit, this year, I will gaze up at the Marine Corps Marathon. Two months. Sixty one days. 400 miles.

Similar to last year, I’ve started a group on Daily Mile that you can find here. Pick 400 miles or another distance and come along for the ride!


  1. Not going to make it half a grand this summer??? ;)

    1. Haha, we'll see if it gets close to that.


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