Encouragement for a trail beginner!

  • Creator
  • #24242

    Hi everyone. I’m just starting the base phase of the marathon training plan, and have been really enjoying the focus on AeT training. However, I wanted to write to hear a bit about others’ experiences with training from a beginner state. I’ve run marathons in the past but have never been what I would call ‘fit’, but I’m still only really managing a few miles per run while staying in AeT, and if I add any elevation gain I’m way out of AeT immediately, even hiking, and even after completing my transition phase diligently. My eventual goal is long-distance trail running, and it feels very very far away at this point! So I wanted to ask about others’ experiences of being or training people as early in their journey as I am. Do I just keep plugging away? Does it take years to get to the point where you can move quickly in the mountains at AeT HR? I’d love to hear about how long it took for others to see noticeable results in their fitness.

Posted In: Mountain Running

  • Participant
    mtbchick on #24260

    Hi Emily,

    I am new to running (sounds like I am even newer than you!) but I come from a cycling background. I have completed 8 weeks of transition and one Base block and am in my Base 1 recovery week beginning today.

    In my experience as an elite athlete, you have to build a base before you can add intensity. If you follow the strength and sprint intervals, you’ll be building the muscle memory you’ll need for the speed down the road while incrementally building speed in general. Also don’t forget that you can do pick-ups and some speed work downhill sparingly in the base block which will help. Mostly base building is the foundation. It’s not pretty. It’s laying concrete and rebar. The house can’t be built without a foundation!

    How long is your training plan for your objective? Once you get past your base building you should feel faster in your Z1 and Z2. But I would give it time.

    It seems counterintuitive, but that’s why the guys wrote a book about it.

    Anonymous on #24263


    Thanks for writing in. Tonya is right about the foundation. The base training is far from sexy. Which is why many folks skip over it. How long it takes depends on several factors. One is genetics. Some will adapt faster than others. But there is nothing you can do about that aspect. The other major determinant is volume of training. The biggest stimulus to aerobic base development is the duration. Running 30miles/week will improve aerobic capacity mush more than running 15 miles/week. Especially with running you need to add volume gradually to avoid injury. If you are limited in time to under 6-8 hours/week of running then expect to start to see some significant gains in 12-16. If able to run 10 hrs/week you can probably see some gains in 10-12 weeks. It will happen. It just takes consistency.


    emilykatemarchant on #24290

    Hello Scott and Tonya,

    Thank you for your encouraging responses. I’m certainly happy to put the time in and know that this is exactly the point you make in your books, but the support makes all the difference and it’s good to know that it’s normal to have to work for weeks and weeks before you start to see changes. I am being very careful this time around about injury, having gone through the typical overtraining/injury/long lay-off cycle every time I’ve trained for something before, so I wonder if a good compromise would be to stick to the conservative increases in running volume but add some time on the step machine / bike to put more time in at AeT and improve a little faster.

    Given that I have a marathon coming up in October with 3000ft of ascent, I’ve also been switching between hikes and flat long runs to make sure I’ve got some climbing in my legs. Sometimes that means my HR is above AeT by 5-10bpm for portions of the time – should I use those as my ‘tempo’ efforts, or is it best to ease off on the intensity and do my tempo efforts as runs? Maybe it doesn’t matter too much and I’m just overthinking it!

    Thanks again!

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