People who “train" as a lifestyle find it very hard to go easy. And base building is exactly that - easy efforts. Additionally, newcomers to a sport such as running tend to over-do their intervals thinking that harder is always better. That is not the case most of the time. Understanding why, plus knowing that your performance will improve, helps to persuade even the most hardcore athletes to base build.
Base building is a no frills effort where most athletes spend the majority of their training time; easier intensity, low level leg fatigue, conversation possible, all day pace, classic slow, long distance training.
In non-scientific terms, I think of easy workouts as when the little “female construction workers” that live in my body have an opportunity to come out, make repairs, build more roads, fortify energy systems, re-fuel storage units, etc. When they come out to play, the foundation gets bigger and stronger, which means that later on you can build a super amazing penthouse, way high in the sky! Without a phenomenal foundation, this is impossible.
In more scientific terms, things that improve during base building sessions are: increased efficiency, delayed fatigue, lower resting heart rate, increased stroke volume as the heart is able to intake and pump more blood through the body in a more relaxed state, muscles learn to absorb more oxygen, lung capacity increases, oxygen transport improves, blood pressure decreases, increased number of capillaries (capillaries are the smallest blood vessels in our body, which surround muscle fibers as the transportation system to our muscular cells, bringing oxygen and fuels in and waste products such as carbon dioxide out), muscles store more glycogen so the tank is bigger and fuller, the body gets really good at breaking down and utilizing fats… the list goes on!
When base building you must spend a period of time focusing solely on just that, eliminating 90% of your harder efforts. When executing a hard workout, it’s like all work stops as the body is now entirely focused on keeping you from passing out. Thus, repairs are not made, no new roads are built, energy systems cannot practice output and efficiency, storage units deplete, etc. The good news is that come spring, you’ll be hitting it hard on a regular basis as you’ll be equipped to handle it!!
The best way to buy into this is to try it. Take the next 6-8 weeks to work on base building, then hit some hard efforts and see how it feels. MHRC coaches are always available to offer you outstanding advice and support ;)