As you begin preparation for upcoming races keep in mind that the most overlooked part of training is the base phase. If you read Pete’s periodization article you should understand the benefits of periodization. And the first part of a periodized training plan is the base phase.
The base phase is the period of training where you build up your training volume and your running is predominantly done at an easy pace. A good base does wonders for developing your aerobic capacity and laying the ground work that will enable you to benefit from the harder workouts that follow. It also develops the economy that allows you to move more efficiently before you begin to increase your volume of intensity.
Most people have a hard time with this phase of training because they feel if they aren’t doing hard workouts then they’re not improving. That couldn’t be farther from the truth, however. Those runs done at an easy pace, a pace you could hold a relaxed conversation, improves your body’s ability to transport oxygen to the working muscles by increasing mitochondrial development and capillary bed density. The lower level of intensity provides a starting point to strengthen the body so that you are fully equipped to handle hard workouts once they begin.
Be sure to spend maximize your base phase to maximize your performance on race day.