Just when I thought I couldn’t get any slower…
Up until recently, I’ve been totally oblivious as to how to do any sort of heart rate training. I read things about zones and percentages of heart rate max and my eyes start to glaze over. My Garmin 610 has a heart rate monitor strap that I’ve worn from time to time. I don’t really know what to make of the numbers it shows me though.
When Miss Zippy posted about doing MAF (maximum aerobic function) training, I was intrigued. Can you tell I look up to her since she also inspired my transition to minimalist running? She is pretty awesome .
Seeing the success she’s already had and researching other athletes’ Maffetone training results has led me to believe this might actually be a good thing for me to try. My return to running since I had Ezra hasn’t been anything to write home about, let alone anything worthwhile blogging about. My training for the More Fitness Half went fine, then pleurisy knocked me down a peg. Since I got back into running consistently, I don’t really feel like my running is really improving. On a lot of my runs, I feel pretty worn down and sluggish. Whenever I attempt speed work, my body doesn’t seem physically capable of moving any faster and finish my run feeling defeated, not stronger. I don’t know how much of it to chalk up to the fact I never get a full night of sleep, my body still recovering from pleurisy, or that I’m just not in the shape I need to be in to see improvement in my running.
The purpose of the Maffetone Method is to build a strong aerobic base. It was developed by Dr. Phil Maffetone and is widely used among triathletes and ultramarathoners. Mark Allen, a six-time Ironman World Championship winner, very successfully trained with Dr. Maffetone.
Having a strong aerobic base not only makes a runner stronger, but it also teaches the body to burn fat for fuel. I’ve got a little extra of that I’d be happy to burn. To find my magic heart rate number, I followed the guideline on the Sock Doc’s site: 180-28-5=147. I debated whether to take an additional 5 or 10 off of the 180 minus age number because of having recently dealt the pleurisy, but ultimately stuck to 5 since I am recovered and not taking any medication now.
The first time I completed the MAF test happened to be the first time I ever had any technical problems when transferring the data from my Garmin to my computer. I lost the data somehow and I couldn’t remember all of my exact splits so I had to redo the test. Awesome, huh?
I redid my first MAF test on Saturday. I set up my Garmin to beep at me if my heart rate hit 148 to signal me that it was too high. For the first mile, I needed to warm up keeping my heart rate in the 127-137 range, then I ran 3 miles keeping it in the 137-147 range. For the final mile, I needed to try to get my heart rate back in the warm up range with decreasing intensity. It’s impossible to run a completely flat route where I live so there was plenty of walking involved on hills. The little beep on my Garmin to tell me that my heart rate was too high was probably making my heart rate go up even more because it was making me so angry. It’s incredibly frustrating to run so slow and to have to take walking breaks when I know I can cover a distance without them.
I was already a slow runner, but attempting this training put me on a new level of slow. My splits were embarrassing. I’m going to keep them to myself until my next MAF test in a month…they were that bad. I’m keeping my fingers crossed for some improvement over the next month. Until then, every single run I do will be at or below a heart rate of 147 in hopes of building a strong aerobic base. I don’t have any races coming up so I’m going to try to stick to this method for a few months in hopes that it will be worthwhile in the long run. Cross your fingers for me.
Check out the links below for more information on the Maffetone Method. There’s so much more to it that I haven’t even touched on.
- Interview with Dr. Maffetone – I highly recommend this video. I found it really interesting how he talks about the difference between being fit and being healthy.
- Sock Doc’s Aerobic or Anaerobic – The right way at the right time
- Mark Allen’s Working Your Heart
- Phil Maffetone’s Want speed? Slow down!
- What is the MAF Test?
- The 180 Formula
Have you ever done any heart rate training? Did you follow a specific method? I’d love to hear more success stories.
I know all this heart rate stuff is boring so here’s a cute baby picture of Ezra who just turned 6 months!