The last time I posted – ages ago – I mentioned doing something different (for me). After researching, hearing, and reading about the Maffetone method (MAF training) for the past year, I decided to take the plunge.
So what is MAF training and why am I doing it?
Training via the Maffetone method is running at or below your maximum aerobic heart rate. Maffetone defines this as 180 minus your age +/- a few factors. My MAF heart rate is 143. I wear a heart rate monitor on every run and I keep all runs between 133-143 bpm. Translation – pretty damn slow.
So why am I slogging around and walking up hills? To build a sufficient aerobic base and become a better fat burner (our most abundant fuel). Obviously both of these are crucial to marathoning, something I haven’t done since December 2012. In hindsight, I should have started with MAF training right after Fiona was born. I still think 2014 was a solid running year but I know my aerobic base needs some fine tuning. Translation – run slow to run fast.
At your maximum aerobic heart rate, Maffetone says, you can efficiently build an aerobic base. Training above this heart rate puts you in an anaerobic zone, which shifts more to sugar burning rather than fat burning. Over time, you can (hopefully) run faster at the same heart rate (it’s recommended that you do MAF training for 4-6 months).
I started MAF training the week after the Philly HM, so I’ve been doing it for about 5 weeks. When you begin you do a MAF test, as a baseline to assess your fitness. Each month thereafter you test again. For my MAF tests, I do an 8-mile run:
3 miles very slow, under my MAF heart rate to warm-up
4 miles at my MAF heart rate <– these are the miles I’m recording and concerned with
1 mile “cool down”
My baseline test – those key 4 miles I mentioned above – weren’t awfully slow…about 10:20 pace. (Sidenote: when I decided to do MAF I was so worried my MAF heart rate would translate to 13:00 pace, based on what I read. So I was pleasantly surprised with 10:20 pace.)
Four weeks later (right after Christmas), I tested again. Those 4 miles were around 10:10 pace. Not earth-shattering by any means but it was after 4 days of merriment (beer and sugar, sugar and beer). If you’ve ever done heart rate training, you know what crappy eating, alcohol, and late nights do to your heart rate. (Another sidenote: this past week I’ve consistently seen paces around 9:30-9:45. Progress?)
I’ve only scratched the surface here. How I feel about MAF training and my plans for it are all for another post!
And…an unrelated picture of Fiona (who is turning 1 on Friday)!