I’ve started this post a million times in my head and I’m finally sitting down and putting pen to paper. I’ve been training via the MAF method for the past 11 weeks….meaning all my runs have been at my MAF heart rate (i.e., easy). I’ve been a diligent student too – no cheating – except for strides.
So how do I really feel about MAF training? The first 6 weeks? I hated it. The past 5 weeks? Amazing. I’ll elaborate.
The first 6 weeks
I ran slow. Very slow. On some runs my heart rate monitor would beep incessantly (meaning I was above my MAF heart rate and needed to slow down). This, in turn, would make me pissed and then my heart rate would spike even more…a vicious cycle. I had (and still have to on occasion) walk up hills. Sometimes I had to walk up inclines. Frustrating, to say the least.
I generally run by myself but I do coach a track night on Tuesdays. It’s awkward to explain a workout and send everyone off while you mosey behind at a comfortable pace and explain how you are doing low heart rate training blah, blah, blah.
I love hill workouts. I haven’t done any hill workouts since MAF training. I miss them. It’s eye-opening to notice how quickly your heart rate skyrockets when running uphill. I could do hill workouts, I would just have to walk them.
I wasn’t seeing that much progress. You are supposed to “test” every 4 weeks. Four weeks into MAF training, I was about 10 seconds faster per mile. I also take testing days with a grain of salt – it’s a snapshot of your progress on that day. There are good days and bad days and good weather and bad weather.
The past 5 weeks
Right after I wrote my last post I got a nasty upper respiratory infection requiring antibiotics. Then the antibiotics caused side effects. I started to feel better and then got sidelined with food poisoning. I spent a solid month being sick. I ran but not a lot. I was so worried that all my MAF progress would be reversed.
Then it was like a miracle. I had a week where my average pace on all runs was around 9:30. (For reference, when I started MAF training, my average pace was 10:20.) I still wasn’t feeling 100% so I was pretty shocked by the numbers. I wrote it off as a fluke (maybe I was well rested after a few weeks of low mileage?).
That 9:30 average pace stuck around consistently for the next 3 weeks. Now I’m seeing 9:15s and the occasional 8:50 pop up. All at my MAF training heart rate. It’s pretty unbelievable. (Side note: I feel the need to clarify that I’m not obsessing about pace – you can’t when MAF training – or you’ll drive yourself nuts. Pace isn’t even a field that I can see on my Garmin right now. But I could not help but notice my average pace drop in my training log…consistently.)
So now I’m really drinking the Maffetone Kool-Aid and plan to do so until I plateau. I hope I can make it a full 6 months training this way. The only race I have planned for the Spring is the Philly LOVE Run. That’ll be with 4 months of MAF training under my belt. I’m excited to see what I can do!