Low HR Training

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Brand Newbie (Read 556 times)

stephenmarklay


    Well I bet I found this forum along the same path as many of you.  After a couple of years of standard training and nutrition I found myself in a pretty pitiful state of health.

     

    After reading Maffetone's  "Big Book" I started to believe I was/am experiencing adrenal fatigue.  My physical showed in December showed a depressed blood cell count across the board as well as low testosterone (Age 41).

     

    At the new year I decided I needed to cut some weight for the season (I am actually a bicycle road racer who runs a bit) and did what you do (when you are not thinking very well)- drop out way too many calories and train more.  I ended up very dehydrated and pretty much destroyed the fitness I had gained in November and December.

     

    I decided that enough was enough and over the last couple of months I have laid off and stopped training for THIS season.

     

    I have converted to a Paleo like low carbohydrate diet (similar to Maffetone) and stressing health as my priority right now.

     

    I am walking a half hour to an hour a day and doing light exercises only (shooting hoops etc).  I am going to start getting back to training and easing back into the bike.  I am going to take this next year and try the MAF method and use my calculated 124-134 HR for this.

     

    I appear to be still experiencing some adrenal issues and can only hope this will normalize.  I have been getting up many times a night for as long as I can remember and I get up the very very latest at 5 am and sometimes staying in bed past 3 am is a chore.  All of the other symptoms apply as well.  I have greatly decreased my level of physical stress, improved my eating, conditioned my sleep space (Dark, natural sounds,  cool, consistent bed time etc), easing into focused thinking (ok meditation), Decaf coffee and teas, and just taking every step I can to heal.

     

    I did have a very rough week with work stress the week before last that was a backward step but overall it is a ton better.

     

    Have any of you experienced these issues starting out on LH trainnig and had success of digging yourself out of the hole?  I have contemplated not resuming bike training but Maffetone indicates that this level of endurance training can actually augment health (but perhaps starting from a state of good health?)

     

    Any thoughts are appreciated and I am very excited to start reading and searching this forum to gain the knowledge.

    jimmyb


    port-a-bella-potty

      Hey Stephen,

       

      Welcome to the outskirts!

       

      Congrats on taking stock of your situation and making some moves to include health as part of your quest for fitness. I've been where you are, not exactly the same, but I found myself over-trained with a severely suppressed aerobic system, with various symptoms (lower back pain for one). I over-trained while running most of my miles at my MAF. AT teh time, I didn't fully grok the program. I wasn't giving enough weight to my MAF tests, and ignored a plateau/regression in my test paces and didn't cut back during marathon training. I tanked in the marathon, and tanked badly after that in terms of MAF tests. The initial plateau and regression came during a high mental stress period. The last few years since, I've been following my MAF tests and adjusting accordingly. During the periods of high stress that have come the past few years, I cut way down. I've managed to come back, but am ot fully there yet. I have managed to avoid injury with this program and have been able to do anaerobic work again for periods with seeing progress in MAF test pace.

       

      Think of your total training load as  training stress+life stress. The MAF tests are key, and will be your guide as to when to be in aerobic base, when to add anaerobic (HR"s over MAF), and when to cut back on training. So test yourself and establish a benchmark. Since you're a biker as well, you could test yourself on the bike as well as on the run. Try to do your MAF test on the same course every time, keeping track of variables such as temperature, humidity, sun vs. overcast, rain, wind speed. Treadmills are a superb way to do a test.

       

      We are here for you, so keep asking all the questions you want. I suggest that you read the Boilerplate and FAQ. You've already read The Big Book, so have all that info. You're also free to contact me anytime through the mailbox function on this forum.

       

      Good luck. You will return to health. Yes, you will. Oh, yes.

      Cool

      --Jimmy

      Log    PRs

      stephenmarklay


        Thank you very much for the kind words.  I will certainly heed your advice on reading the Boilerplate and FAQs.

        I will watch my training with a critical eye and error on the side of under training.  I have a year to get to good health and work on a solid base for next year so no huge rush!  

         

        I have done and will continue a periodization protocol (3 weeks ramp 1 week recovery) and conduct my MAF tests at the end of each recovery weeks or 1x per month.

         

        I had been doing just so many hours with little quality sleep and rather high carbohydrate diet.  This time around if I am not sleeping I am not training period.  Stop the cycle before it starts.  I was very used to training 2x a day with coffee fueling my workouts and drinking wine to sleep (bad).

         

        I am very optimistic about the coming year of health improvement and Endurance building.

        Dr.R


          Welcome Stephen, and I was particularly interested in Jimmy's comment on how he overtrained while MAF'ing.  I have also noticed myself quietly and subtlely overtrain while following my MAF.  Being a primary cyclist, I use the winter months to run at MAF for 3-4 months, with some MAF rides and occasional faster rides mixed in.  I don't know if it's the different stress of running, but while my MAF numbers initially get dramatically better with testing, I find I quickly (1 or 2 months) hit a spot where I see my numbers degrade (usually over a period of a week or so), realize I am overtrained or over-reached (though I never have any other symptoms), and pull back mileage for a week, to then see my numbers get that much better.  Thinking of doing a hm this year, but how can one possibly build up their mileage to do that if just running 7 miles 2/week gets me overtrained in 4 weeks?  I can see just doing MAF and lower miles and trusting I will be fine with the accumulated fitness, but it also seems like a big risk in that I won't have any idea how my body will react for the greater distance.  Any thoughts?

           

          For Stephen, one thing to consider to speed up recovery is riboflavin, ideally a natural source like the product from Standard Process called Cataplex G.  One of the first things burned up in adrenal stress is riboflavin, and it is involved in many, many enzyme systems for energy production and hormonal controls.  Simple and effective, about 400% of the RDA is what I take and give to my patient's.  As noted above, this will only take a body so far if there are other stressors, but it can really cut back healing time for the adrenals.  Other than that, a qualified nutritionist who uses saliva testing can monitor your adrenals directly and there would be much less guess work as to your recovery time.  Good luck and thanks for starting this thread.

          stephenmarklay


            Dr. R,

             

            Thank you very much for you recommendation on the Riboflavin.  I have a bit of the spiral method of learning going on right now and I hope to get to the point pretty soon.  I will go get some and give it a whirl.  I have been listing to Podcasts and gleaning what I can about adrenal stress and treatment but so far none have said this or that protocol.  Again, thanks for the Riboflavin tip

             

            I did buy some Magnesium today (Natural Calm) today in an attempt to treat a symptom -waking up during the night.  I figure if I can recover a normal sleep habit that in general it will be a bit easier to recover.

             

            One change I am going to make, which will be very hard for me is to eat a very light dinner.  I normally eat a lot a night and while it does not prevent me from getting to sleep.   I have read that as my big meal is digested and my insulin is coping with it, my blood sugar ends up dropping and Cortisol ramps up to get my sugar normal and then I wake up ready to go.  I have found that I can read and settle my mind a bit and dose a bit longer.  Who knows but I can eat a larger lunch and lighter dinner to see if it helps at all.

             

             

            I am not surprised that you guys have sensed overtraining  using MAF,  I certainly can over reach with traditional zone 2 training in the winter as well. My normal Zone 2 base training is from 128 to 145 HR and my new MAF is 124 to 134.  While lower than my old Zone 2 I spent a lot of time around that 134 HR before and could easily over reach with that.

             

            Are you taking a week to recover each 2 to 3 weeks?  Also, as in my state it does not take a lot to throw it off balance.  A few days of training, some missed sleep and a stressful day will be enough to grind me to a halt if I don't acknowledge it and let my body rest.  I used to buy into the idea that I would lose fitness if I missed a day or two of training.  Well, if I am over reaching I am losing or, just about ready to lose, that very fitness.

             

            I say push yourself and go a bit longer when you feel really good and rest when you need it and that is more often than we tend to want to believe.

             

            Coming from the dummy that had some 20 hour weeks in December while tired.  My fitness was actually improving but my health was declining.  My fitness crumbled with that method.

            jimmyb


            port-a-bella-potty

              Welcome Stephen, and I was particularly interested in Jimmy's comment on how he overtrained while MAF'ing.  I have also noticed myself quietly and subtlely overtrain while following my MAF.  Being a primary cyclist, I use the winter months to run at MAF for 3-4 months, with some MAF rides and occasional faster rides mixed in.  I don't know if it's the different stress of running, but while my MAF numbers initially get dramatically better with testing, I find I quickly (1 or 2 months) hit a spot where I see my numbers degrade (usually over a period of a week or so), realize I am overtrained or over-reached (though I never have any other symptoms), and pull back mileage for a week, to then see my numbers get that much better.  Thinking of doing a hm this year, but how can one possibly build up their mileage to do that if just running 7 miles 2/week gets me overtrained in 4 weeks?  I can see just doing MAF and lower miles and trusting I will be fine with the accumulated fitness, but it also seems like a big risk in that I won't have any idea how my body will react for the greater distance.  Any thoughts?

               

               

              Hey Doc R,

               

              If I a understanding correctly, you are doing bike rides during the 3-4 month MAF base period  that are above MAF. That alone can bring you to a plateau/regression during that time. I can't say that is exactly what is causing the regression when it comes, but Dr. Phi has mentioned more than once in several publications that when you are building your base, you want to avoid anaerobic work (anaerobic in his terms means above MAF). Some people can get away with it. Even do a few races during the base period, but for some, even just a little will cause a reversal. 

               

              The idea is to build the base for 12-16 weeks , or more if you wish, then bring in the harder stuff. If done correctly, you will see a 1-2 minute improvement in MAF test pace  during the base period. You should then also see improvement during the anearobic phase/race season. At some point during race season, you will see a plateau/regression, and it's time to rest or return to aerobic base period.

               

              I'm curious as to what the regression looked like in your MAF tests. You say there is regression "over a week or so."  MAF tests are usually done every 3-4 weeks (you can do them more often if you wish, as long it doesn't stress you out). Sometimes, you just have a test during

              a bad week, and the ship is righted a few weeks later. Sometimes with certain plateaus,  if you have been progressing for awhile, it might be time for some anaerobic work.

               

               I'm not sure if every time you have a backwards week, if you cut back, or lower your MAF. Sometimes, during a base period, you need to push ahead to see if it's temporary.

               

              One more possible problem is that your MAF is incorrect and you need to lower it. It never hurts to be to low, but if you're too high, it will eventually nip you in your maximal aerobibutt.

               

              I hope some of this helps, or at least gets a discussion going that will.Cool

               

               

              --Jimmy

              Log    PRs

              stephenmarklay


                -Jimmy,  I caught that too and forgot to mention the pretty direct language Dr. Maffetone used about that subject.  It does sound like a good place to address it as a first go round.

                jimmyb


                port-a-bella-potty

                  Dr. R,

                   

                  Thank you very much for you recommendation on the Riboflavin.  I have a bit of the spiral method of learning going on right now and I hope to get to the point pretty soon.  I will go get some and give it a whirl.  I have been listing to Podcasts and gleaning what I can about adrenal stress and treatment but so far none have said this or that protocol.  Again, thanks for the Riboflavin tip

                   

                  I did buy some Magnesium today (Natural Calm) today in an attempt to treat a symptom -waking up during the night.  I figure if I can recover a normal sleep habit that in general it will be a bit easier to recover.

                   

                  One change I am going to make, which will be very hard for me is to eat a very light dinner.  I normally eat a lot a night and while it does not prevent me from getting to sleep.   I have read that as my big meal is digested and my insulin is coping with it, my blood sugar ends up dropping and Cortisol ramps up to get my sugar normal and then I wake up ready to go.  I have found that I can read and settle my mind a bit and dose a bit longer.  Who knows but I can eat a larger lunch and lighter dinner to see if it helps at all.

                   

                   

                  I am not surprised that you guys have sensed overtraining  using MAF,  I certainly can over reach with traditional zone 2 training in the winter as well. My normal Zone 2 base training is from 128 to 145 HR and my new MAF is 124 to 134.  While lower than my old Zone 2 I spent a lot of time around that 134 HR before and could easily over reach with that.

                   

                  Are you taking a week to recover each 2 to 3 weeks?  Also, as in my state it does not take a lot to throw it off balance.  A few days of training, some missed sleep and a stressful day will be enough to grind me to a halt if I don't acknowledge it and let my body rest.  I used to buy into the idea that I would lose fitness if I missed a day or two of training.  Well, if I am over reaching I am losing or, just about ready to lose, that very fitness.

                   

                  I say push yourself and go a bit longer when you feel really good and rest when you need it and that is more often than we tend to want to believe.

                   

                  Coming from the dummy that had some 20 hour weeks in December while tired.  My fitness was actually improving but my health was declining.  My fitness crumbled with that method.

                   

                  Take a look at my MAF TESTS between 4/5/10 through 9/27/10.

                  This was during an anaerobic phase with some races. I progressed

                  nicely until July. Then you'll see two MAF tests of 15:12 and 14:17.

                  HUGE regression. During this time, life stress went through the roof.

                  Beginning in June. It affected my sleep, anxiety levels, the whole works.

                  AFter that 15:12 test, I immediatley cut back on total volume. When the stress

                  lifted in the latter part of August, I was able to increase a little more, and my

                  tests recovered in September. Sleep was back to normal as well. The

                  key and heart of the program is being aware of the stress in your life

                  and its relationship to your training and state of your aerobic system.

                  Looks like you are getting it, Stephen!

                   

                  --Jimmy

                  Log    PRs

                    you ask if MAF training helped anyone get back from the overtraining hole.

                     

                    yes - I never had such big problems as you write about but a year ago I did have a little overreaching and 3 weeks of just MAF running recovered me (I continued the MAF running for more than 3 weeks though).

                     

                    that was actually when I found this place and found about MAF running in the first place.

                     

                     

                    as for overtraining possibility at MAF HR with higher mileage, that could easily happen in several ways. 

                     

                    one way of them would be if you just do 180-age calculation and at the same time your maxHR and hence your LT HR is not that high. (maxHR doesn't really count. LT HR is what does.)

                     

                    in this case, formationflier's FAQ (I think that was the one?) recommends that you use Hadd's instructions for finding a low enough aerobic HR. you basically subtract 50 from your maxHR and that's the upper limit of your base build HR zone (minus 5 bpm for lower limit).

                     

                    (note: I think Hadd's number is NOT intended to be the same thing as the MAF number, something lower intensity instead, but it does give you a great way to recovery!)

                     

                    example, I know a runner, she's 32, maxHR around 170 and she's a very good runner. doesn't take much to see that running more than a couple of times a week at 148 HR (180-32=148) for her would be overtraining her. and if she would be qualified to add 5bpm then 153, even more so. her LT is at 160. she runs the easy runs in the low 130's or perhaps even high 120's. Hadd would give her a number around 120-125 for base build. that would work a lot better for her than 148-153.

                     

                     

                    on the other hand, I can never seem to overtrain myself with my calculated MAF even if I don't bother to subtract 5, because it's pretty low HR compared to my LT HR. so it is a very "safe" HR for me.

                     

                    I did find that if I use a slightly higher HR for base build, that works great, improvement and all, as long as I keep to pure base build. but then if I mix in even a slightly higher effort workout -without decreasing the high mileage- then it will be too much stress. I can recover from it in a couple of days if I don't repeat the higher HR workout too soon.

                    if I stick to the "pretty low MAF HR", then it doesn't matter if I mix in higher HR runs, my body is ready to take it anytime without decreasing mileage.

                    so I think there is two different aerobic HR zones in my case, one of them is good for recovery and as part of base building and the other one good for base building but less so for recovery.

                     

                    and why did I tell about this in such detail? well, these experiences really convinced me that it is more about training load and recovery than anything else.

                    (where training load refers to several things; load on 1) fat burning aerobic system/muscle fibers 2) carb burning system/muscle fibers 3) your legs/joints, etc....)

                     

                     

                    if you're at a point where you can take extra stress you can do higher intensity workouts. otherwise stick to MAF and if you're even worse off then stick to an even lower HR (subtracting 5 may not be enough for everyone; depends on your shape and also on how well the formula's assumption of HR degrading with age matched you).

                     

                    so this is what you have to watch. you can learn your body's signals. the MAF test or any other low HR test will also help you see if you're OK with your load vs recovery.

                    stephenmarklay


                      Some really great advice here- thank you all.

                       

                      I am pretty comfortable with what looks like my MAX MAF HR.  I will however use the lower range when my body says do the lower number dummy Smile

                       

                      I have a lot of time and plan on no anaerobic training for a long while.   I am going take my MAF test on my bike this morning (on rollers).  I have outlined a slow progression over the next month that starts at about 5 hours this week and goes up to whopping 6.5 hours on the third week before a 4 hour recovery week.  Now that is easing in!

                       

                      A note on anaerobic training.  Maffetone classifies everything including push ups or sit ups as anaerobic training.  Well he is right.  I never thought of it in that way, at least as far as my endurance training goes.  I like to do some form of exercise for my upper body to keep a minimum of functionality I guess.  Instead of doing weights for my upper body I am going to do some light endurance on the upper body ergo at the gym.  They have a water filled deal that is pretty nice and I can even do a MAF on that.  I won't do much of it - maybe a half hour 3x a week.  It will have an overall impact on recovery but potentially less than weight training.

                      jimmyb


                      port-a-bella-potty

                        C is right on about training load (which includes recovery runs), but it is just not about training load and recovery. You could conceivably run just intervals at 95% MHR and nothing else, and as long as you took enough recovery between workouts, remain uninjured. But would your energy systems be in balance? Would you be ready for a half-marathon or longer? There is a difference in what happens in the body in terms of fibers and energy systems being used when below MAF as opposed to above. When below, you are using exclusively red Type 1 fibers that use fat as fuel. When above, you've engaged the anaerobic Type 2 fibers. The fuel usage and by-products are different from each system. You can train and develop aerobically above MAF, as I've seen my MAF tests improve during anaerobic training, but if you do so all the time, never taking time for that 12+ week base period every year (done properly), you increase the chance you will eventually plateau and regress, and invite injury and OT. This could take a few years for some, not so long for others. The beauty of the MAF test is that you can usually see it coming before you get there. They are the key.  In retrospect, I can see that the MAF tests showed my OT long before I felt symptoms (exhaustion, dead legs, back pain). There was something amiss in aerobiland.

                         

                        --Jimmy

                        Log    PRs

                          There is another tool you might also consider using for your situation.  It is a Heart Rate Variability app for the iPhone/iPod touch.  There was some discussion about it recently in this thread:

                          http://www.runningahead.com/groups/LOWHRTR/forum/Post/40af356997a64aabb420c35828935bfc#focus

                           

                          I started using it the end of May 2010.  I was training with heart rates above MAF and wanted some additional feedback to reassure myself that I was not overtraining.  It makes a great general health indicator.  It has let me know that I was getting sick before the symptoms appeared.  And it let me know that I was not completely recovered even after the symptoms disappeared.

                           

                          Here is an old screenshot from last September for your entertainment:

                          http://dl.dropbox.com/u/19811888/IMG_0018.png

                          stephenmarklay


                            I am going to check out that HRV app.  Cool thanks.

                              C is right on about training load (which includes recovery runs), but it is just not about training load and recovery. You could conceivably run just intervals at 95% MHR and nothing else, and as long as you took enough recovery between workouts, remain uninjured. But would your energy systems be in balance? Would you be ready for a half-marathon or longer? There is a difference in what happens in the body in terms of fibers and energy systems being used when below MAF as opposed to above. When below, you are using exclusively red Type 1 fibers that use fat as fuel. When above, you've engaged the anaerobic Type 2 fibers. The fuel usage and by-products are different from each system. You can train and develop aerobically above MAF, as I've seen my MAF tests improve during anaerobic training, but if you do so all the time, never taking time for that 12+ week base period every year (done properly), you increase the chance you will eventually plateau and regress, and invite injury and OT. This could take a few years for some, not so long for others. The beauty of the MAF test is that you can usually see it coming before you get there. They are the key.  In retrospect, I can see that the MAF tests showed my OT long before I felt symptoms (exhaustion, dead legs, back pain). There was something amiss in aerobiland.

                               

                              --Jimmy

                               

                               

                              sorry, yes I wasn't detailed enough there. I mean training load regardless of what fibers you are working out in whatever training phase. there is a training load in base building too that one needs to manage. I was reflecting on this in the context of the overtraining with MAF runs question.

                               

                              and the idea about doing MAF or other LHR base build every year to avoid burning out is also great, it also fits in the context of load/recovery.

                               

                              (PS: I did run pretty good half marathon on 30mpw anaerobic training, so 30mpw seems to be enough for half marathon in terms of aerobic endurance, but I did have a long base building before that so that may have helped. and marathon is definitely some different story.)

                              Dr.R


                                The HRV app is great, though perhaps still a little buggy.  I in fact started to overtrain once I had to change out the iTouch I was using it with and the next one just has not worked well, an Itouch problem not an ithlete problem.  It can definitely let you know you may be overdoing it before you overdo it, but I just haven't used it enough lately, stupidly as I already own the darn thing.

                                 

                                For my training, I basically treat each and every run as an MAF, though of course there are many runs where I purposely run under, so those don't count.  But being obsessive, I will get paranoid if I see my numbers regress over a week or so if I am generally running at the same or similar heart rate.  This way I feel I may catch the overtraining quicker, though I leave it open for common sense variability that may occur due to life.  If I see three aerobic runs get slower and slower, I immediately change what I am doing and take some time off.  Perhaps too detailed, but I have found success with this.

                                 

                                When I make progression with my MAF running coming off the cycling racing season that is admittedly going to mostly be anaerobic (though mixed in with MAF rides during the week), it can be pretty dramatic right off the bat.  I have started MAF training at a 12:30 pace, and have it come down most recently to a 9:53 pace over just 6 weeks of easy rides and runs.  When I do mix in faster rides, it is always once I have achieved my MAF goal for the year, that goal always trying to be faster than the year before, and have that translate of course into my racing for the coming season.  

                                 

                                Having made such great progess in my MAF and then seeing that translate into cycling results that have been excellent, I would have to think that  the MAF number I am using must be pretty good, as there is generally continuous progression until a plateau is reached, or of course I feel I have overtrained, which is what prompted this question to begin with!  Very possibly I just have to lower the number for the longer run times to get ready for a hm or even a half ironman, but then there is still the possibility of overdoing it just with the training stress of ramping up all the miles needed to get the body ready for such endeavors.  

                                 

                                So, 1)  keep the miles lower at MAF and just keep progressing and hope you don't break down during the higher mileage race OR

                                       2) do the longer miles to allow the body to acclimate but increase recovery time, which flys in the face of all those training programs designed to ramp up your miles to get you ready OR

                                       3) keep the mileage high with the program that is recommended for a hm but lower MAF to minimize the body impact and stressor involved of the increased mileage?  

                                 

                                Of course there is no substitute for individual experimentation, but I am just curious what some of the more experienced folks have seen and tried. 

                                 

                                Food for thought!  Thanks!!!

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