A CLEANED UP VERSION OF THE ABOVE BOILERPLATE POST BY FORMATIONFLIER
(When RA updated the message board software years ago, it eliminated any paragraphs anyone ever created prior to the update. So the above Boilerplate post written by Jesse is a big blob. I copied it into this post, and created paragraphs to make it more readable. Below this is my take on the Maffetone Method——Jimmy)
Just for fun, here's my adjusted version of the post I usually used to kick off such a thread at CR: Once again, we need to restart this thread given that it's getting impossible to get a post through due to its length. You probably don't need to always read the whole thread just to ask a question, but I request that you read through this post and, if still interested, read through the FAQ (click).
The FAQ is located here (click). Generally speaking, I like to focus this thread on posting results and answering questions about basebuilding, endurance building, low heart rate training, etc., using methods prescribed by Maffetone, Mark Allen, Stu Mittleman, and the like. This is far from a substitute for reading their publications, but it may be a helpful supplement and you can glean something from real people's real world experiences. My preference is to keep this a thread on real-world experiences, not a big debate on theories from experts.
For the most part, by cutting back all of my training paces tremendously, I improved times in almost all race distance categories, over a period of about a year. Examples: 1 M: 6:16 -> 5:36 2 M: 13:36 -> 12:10 5k: 21:20 -> 20:08 10k: 48:46 -> 42:24 10M: 77:45 -> 69:12 marathon: 4:03 -> 3:09 50M: 10:34 -> 7:46 100M: 18:53 (no time before low HR training to compare to!). Also, nowadays, I can regularly run 3:10-3:20 marathons, many in a year, even over a month or two, whereas a couple years ago, I struggled to break 4 hours, over and over, no matter how hard I worked in training. If you're intrigued by this discussion, I'd suggest you read the FAQ in my signature, along with some of the key links at the top that I list. One factor that seems to be important in the progress of this approach is the need to incorporate enough downhill running at fast pace (keeping heart rate up to the max MAF value - see FAQ for what that means) for a reasonable percentage of volume. In other words, make sure there's a little bit of a mix of faster paced runs in your training, which you can do while staying within the heart rate bounds by running on some extended downhills. Simply put, find a hilly course for at least some of your runs. It doesn't matter how slow you go up the hills (as long as you keep the HR in check), but make sure you go fast enough on the downs to keep your HR from getting too low. There's a 90% chance that if you have a question, it's addressed in the FAQ. Now, a few things that I should mention that are touched on in the FAQ, but I'll reiterate here.
1. This is a not a promotion of slow-running. At least not in the long term. For many that really need this, it will involve slowing down, possibly a lot at first, in order to get faster for longer distances. After 6 months to a year, your training pace may become faster than it was when you started, at 20-30 beats lower heart rate.
2. There is nothing here that implies that running everything slow will make you faster and faster, but rather that if you put in the good time at a low enough heart rate range, you should be able to extend the speed you currently have to longer distances.
3. We do tend to get in some discussions about physiology because sometimes it's important to understand certain aspects. However, I am not a physiologist and I much prefer to keep this thread about real people, real occurrences, and not about theory and quotations of famous (or not so famous) coaches and trainers. If you want quotations from coaches and trainers, then do some research, check out some books and read up! For the most part, the "example" athletes discussed by most coaches and trainers are not everyday runners like you and me. We do have a couple of physiologists who post here that can answer some related questions.
4. My experience with this has been that the lower heart rate you use, the better results, but the more painful it will be at first. Many people will argue against that and try to provide you an excuse to use a higher target heart rate. I can only say this - if anyone had that excuse, it was me, and the higher heart rate target was not successful for me. My max heart rate is at least 210 and my typical training heart rate is about 139.
5. Nowhere will I tell you that you should always run everything slow, but many people read a few lines here and there and make that interpretation. Here are a few facts about this:
a. You probably need to slow down a lot at first if you're going to use this approach.
b. You shouldn't expect to see much in the way of positive results over the short term. The results appear over weeks and months. If you want a quick fix, this is not the approach for you.
c. After several weeks, things should start to improve. If they are still getting worse after 4 weeks or so, it's time to step back and see what's going on.
d. When you are achieving success with this approach, you may continue to improve greatly, and possibly for a long time, as I have. My feeling is that while you are still improving, why mess with it? Transition to more intense training once you have gotten all of the aerobic toothpaste out of the tube.
6. If your goal is to run the fastest marathon (or other aerobic race) that you can possibly run, then eventually, you'll have to add more aggressive training. This approach represents both a phase to prepare for the next level of training as well as guidance for how to keep your easy runs truly easy when you are training more aggressively.
7. I mentioned in another recent post in the last version of this thread that there is a major paradox with aerobic development. Those who have very poor aerobic conditioning will have a terribly slow pace at a "deeply aerobic" low heart rate. These people will have to spend a lot of time at low heart rates to develop their aerobic systems and it will be painfully slow for a while. Even a very small volume of higher heart rate activities will tend to interfere with the process. I was in this category and I experienced this as have many others. Those who have strong aerobic conditioning can already run a good pace at a low heart rate. These people can add a significant volume of higher intensity stuff and can still see further aerobic development. I am in this category now. It's the ultimate insult to injury.
8. If you are in your low 20s or below or mid-50s or above, it may take some real trial and error to find a good "maximum aerobic function" heart rate. Also, if you have a very low max heart rate, the same can be said. If you are in either of these situations, I recommend that you read the Hadd article in the FAQ and follow his guidance for selecting a basebuilding heart rate. Now with that said, please read the following:
1. If you are interested in this approach, be aware that many people have become extremely frustrated and angry when all of their definitions of success have not been met, sometimes after 4 months. For me, it was 6 months of dedicated running using a conservatively low heart rate to achieve enormous (almost magical) benefits.
2. If you are starting just before or while it's hot and humid, you are likely to see little or no progress over a good period of time. That's not to imply that you won't see benefits - while those here are posting how it was extremely difficult and frustrating to control heart rate in a run, you'll see those following "traditional" approaches elsewhere on coolrunning posting how they couldn't even finish their runs.
3. If you want to be able to understand why this worked or didn't work, not only will you have to strictly adhere to the guidelines, but you will have to keep records. Keep in mind that many, many people have been highly successful with almost no recordkeeping and some cheating here and there, but when things don't work, no one can answer your questions with out specific and credible data. The posting of a few MAF tests does not constitute usable data to understand what's going right and what's going wrong.
4. Some people will absolutely require some element of downhill training to really see the pace improvement at low heart rates. Just running a dead slow pace on flat ground may cause a decay in running economy.
5. Think about what your goals are: a. to run without injury? b. to improve race times in so and so distances? c. to have race times better projected from short to long distances? d. to be able to run a good pace at low heart rates?
6. See how things are going every few weeks if your improvements are not obvious. See if any adjustments need to be made. ... If all you care about is running without injury, then you really don't need to keep records. Run below MAF for a while and see if you're not injured. That's an easy one. If improving race times is what you want, then before you start MAF training, spend a couple of months racing your distances of interest. Then after your stint of MAF training, run similar races and see what happens. Don't use your pace at low heart rates without any race times to say that you've failed if this was your objective. I don't really believe in MAF tests. Or, more specifically, I believe every run is a MAF test. Record your splits and avg HR per split for every run. Make note if you went over MAF heart rate for more than a few seconds. That's not to say you should compare every day to the previous day, but when there's a problem, you need to start looking at your detailed history. None of us can really answer any questions without it, or with just a couple of anecdotal facts (e.g., my runs this week have been crummy). When you ask the group why everything is going wrong, be prepared to answer the following questions:
1. how many miles per week have you been running for how long?
2. how old are you?
3. what value are you using for MAF heart rate?
4. what were your race times before MAF training and after MAF training?
5. what were your pace splits and avg HR per split for your runs over the past couple of months? do you have HR/pace data on a site such as motionbased that you can share? are you absolutely strict, never going above MAF on any run? what was the temperature and dewpoint during each run?
6. do you incorporate downhills into your runs? what is your heart rate on the downhill segments? what does your heart rate do on uphills?
7. do you take in any carbs within a couple of hours before your runs?
8. do you deal with a lot of stress?
9. are you on any medications?
10. do you do any other activities, such as swimming, spin class, aerobics, weightlifting, etc? are you below MAF on all?
11. what was your resting heart rate before your started MAF training? what is it now? As a reminder, my first pace was 17 min/mile on a treadmill. About 8 months later, it was in the low 7s on the treadmill, mid-8s outside. But, most importantly all of my race times improved. I have a lot of downhills in all of my runs and I speed up a lot on them. I eat nothing before or during any run. All of my activities are below MAF in training (not in races). Anyone can "catch me" being wrong on anything I say about myself. My log is public - anyone is welcome to dig through and prove me wrong. I'm sure I'm wrong quite a bit, especially as the facts age.
THE MAFFETONE METHOD
(text and links updated on 8-2-15)
--It's all about developing aerobic speed (pace at MAF), balancing the aerobic and anaerobic energy systems, and remaining healthy while doing so.Resources:www.philmaffetone.com has lots of info as well. Sign-up is free. He's also a musician! His books are an invaluable addition to any training library
What exactly is the Maffetone Method?
Books by Dr. Phil Maffetone (Amazon)
Mark Allen Interview: A Look Back At Training With Phil MaffetoneMark Allen's article on MAF training
excerpt on Mark Allen's training from the Lore Of Running (good read)Working out at your calculated MAF thread with Dr. Phil participation - About running at your MAF for a good portion of your workout for best aerobic development.Reaching your potential in endurance events is all about developing your aerobic system and aerobic speed. I'm going to warn you up front that there is a chance you are going to hate this method at first. The reason being that you will suddenly be running (and probably walking a little) paces that are not only slower than you ever imagined, but also uncomfortable and ego-shattering. The good news is that if you do the training properly, the slowness is temporary. The method is about creating a healthy, fit athlete. Being healthy means not running yourself into over-training, injury, and a weakened immune system (colds, flu, etc.). Dr. Phil wants to see you achieve your potential, but in a way that doesn't over-stress your body. He made a name for himself taking broken down athletes and getting them back to not only health, but also their best performances. Mark Allen (6-time Iron Man Champ) and Mike Pigg being two of the most successful on the elite level.The following page is perfect description of what happens (how the slowness is temporary) if the program is done correctly:Mark Allen on Maffetone TrainingHere's a case study of someone who had to walk in the beginning in order to stay under MAF. It illustrates how it works and what can happen when you overstress the body: Case Study
THE MAF TEST
~monitoring aerobic speed through all phases of training and racing~
click here to read bout The MAF Test at Dr. Phil's Website
The heart of this method is managing stress through monitoring of the Maximal Aerobic Function Test, or MAF Test. Whether you are in either the aerobic or anaerobic phase (see below) or a racing season, this test is good way to monitor whether or not your aerobic system is progressing or regressing. Your pace at MAF is called aerobic speed. First, you have to figure out your MAF. It also discusses the MAF test. To do an MAF test, first take 15-20 minutes to warm-up to MAF-10. Then run a speed that gets your HR up to your MAF. For example, If your MAF is 130, then keep your HR there, allowing only brief blips of 131. If you see 132, slow down. If you see anything below 129, speed up. Do that for 3-5 miles. Even a one mile test can provide information. During the test you should see a progressive overall slowing from the first to the last mile. If you are speeding up, you need to warm up more. Do these tests every 2-4 weeks. If the overall pace and times are progressing, then that shows your current training load (along with the load of stress from your life) is not too much. Your aerobic system is still improving. If the overall pace and time is regressing, then something needs to change. It might be time to go back to the aerobic base phase. If you are already in that phase, then reduced time on your feet might help. Other things come into play including lack of sleep, job stress, family stress, and diet.You can also make your MAF tests time based. For example, after your warm-up, you can run a 45 minute test. You can still take mile or kilometer splits. In the beginning, you might cover 3.5 miles. A year later, you might be covering 5 miles in the same time.
Some people just use the same training run done on the same course to monitor aerobic speed.
Keep track of variables in your running log.
Whether you are doing your MAF tests inside on the treadmill or outside, keep track of as many variables as possible. If doing the test outside, try to use the same course for each test. Keep track of:
--sun, overcast, or rain (even in the same temperature, a sunny day contributes to core heat build-up more than an overcast one)
--time of day (some people have higher heart rates at the same effort at one time of day as opposed to another)
--weight (% fat isn't bad to know. the more fat, the harder it is for your body to dissipate heat)
You can use weather.com to get the temp, RH, and wind speed.
3 PHASES OF MAF TRAINING
My take on MAF training is that there are three phases, which can be entered anytime when needed, or when prepared to do so:1. Aerobic2. Anaerobic/racing3. Rest, Recovery, Vacation
Aerobic Base Phase
6-time Ironman Tri Champ, Mark Allen, calls this the PATIENCE phase ***. This is an aerobic base-training phase run at or under a heart rate of 180-age (MAF) with adjustments for current health and fitness. Why patience? Because 99% of the runners who first do this will be training slower than they ever have in their life, and it defies the current logic and beliefs of "no pain, no gain." It can be ego-busting and maddening at first, producing much whining in the threads in which I've been involved. Just run all your miles at a pace that keeps your heart rate at or below your MAF (180-age). Spending at least some portion of your longer duration runs (hard day) at your MAF. This will work your slow-twitch, aerobic endurance fibers almost exclusively, and keep your body in a fat-as-fuel mode. It'll be slow in the beginning because your body has not learned to process oxygen well using fat. As your slow twitch fibers develop, your body will get better at processing oxygen using fat, and you will eventually have to speed up in order to maintain the same heart rate. This is your areaobic speed developing.
It's not a bad idea to do your recovery runs at MAF -10 or lower. It's not required, but it can make the recovery day a little less stressful.This phase is not about running slow, but about running faster and faster at MAF--becoming a fat-fueled runner. The slowness is temporary. Just keep raising your base mileage a little each week. Don't overdo it. Keep track of your MAF tests, and listen to how your body feels. The tests will let you know if you are over-training, and your body will let you know as well. If you are a walking, breathing sore spot, tired all the time, cranky, and your MAF tests and MAF training times are slowing, you need to make adjustments in your volume, and perhaps a long rest may be in order.Dr. Maffetone, as well as Jack Daniels, suggests that you run by time not distance. For example, do 2 hour long runs, and let the mileage be whatever it ends up being. The body doesn't know miles, it knows duration. A professional runner might be able to run 20 miles in two hours at MAF, and an age-grouper might only be able to run 13 miles in the same time at MAF. The training load is the same for each runner. Studies show there are no real aerobic benefits after 2-2.5 hours on your feet. Anything over that, might toughen you mentally, but might just be beating yourself up--depending on who you are and what you can handle. An aerobic phase of 12-16 weeks at the beginning of the year is suggested. If you are a beginner, or are trying to rebuild a shot aerobic system and body, then a longer period might be needed. According to a blurb in the Lore Of Running, Mark Allen would do this phase the first 12 weeks of every new year as a base-training phase, and did it each year of each Ironman win, taking time off at the end of each year to rest. He would return to the patience phase when his MAF tests showed regression in pace. ( "Lore of Running, Fourth Edition" by Timothy D. Noakes, MD, DSc (p.454-460) )
Anaerobic, Tempo, Speedwork Phase
Yes. The Maffetone Method includes anaerobic training. You have to race some time! In this phase, the idea is to sharpen up the fast-twitch fibers and balance your energy systems. It is important to do regular MAF tests throughout all phases of training and racing. The tests will help to let you know if the anaerobic training is creating a balance, or an imbalance. If your body needs anaerobic work to balance out the aerobic work you've done, your MAF tests should improve. If they get worse as a result of this work, or during racing season, this can be a sign that you need to return to base training, as your aerobic system is beginning to deteriorate. Here are a few quotes from Training For Endurance by Dr. Philip Maffetone Chapter 12 (2nd revised Edition, David Barmore Productions, ©2000):
(please note that the above book is currently out of print, but the same info can be found in The Maffetone Method by Dr. Phil Maffetone and in The Big Book Of Endurance Training And Racing--"once you've built sufficient aerobic function, your body may be ready to add anaerobic work. I say 'may' because many endurance athletes can often bypass this part of training, and rely instead on racing to get all the anaerobic stimulation necessary... ....The main purpose of anaerobic training is to build the fast-twitch muscle fibers. For endurance athletes, maximum benefits can be achieved easily in as short a time as 3-4 weeks......anaerobic workouts can be treacherous domain. This risky training is frequently the cause of injuries, fatigue and poor performance....including races, do not exceed 2-3 anaerobic workouts per week. For many athletes, one is sufficient.."
Rest, Recovery, Vacation
In the different phases of this training, remember to always follow the rules of recovery as close as possible.Suggestions:-- follow a hard day (long distance or time, speed, race) with an easy day (short distance or time, sub-MAF, total rest). After a hard race take it easy the following week. Depending on the distance, you might take anywhere from 1 day to 2 weeks total rest from running, or keeping whatever running you do to a brief amount of time and under MAF.--increase weekly amount of time on your feet by no more than 5-10% per week on average. Cut back your time on feet every 3rd or 4th week, resuming where you left off, or at a higher level after the recovery week. Be careful. The natural tendency is to think running more and getting to higher volumes as quickly as possible is better. Keep track of your MAF tests.--1 day complete rest per week isn't a bad idea.--it doesn't hurt to take a few weeks or months off from running every year.Mark Allen would take two months off in November and December after the Ironman and not begin training until the aerobic base phase in January. ***"Lore of Running, Fourth Edition" by Timothy D. Noakes, MD, DSc (p.454-460)
Monitoring Resting Heart Rate
Keeping track of resting heart rate (RHR) can be very helpful with training. It's an added tool in managing stress and monitoring fitness. Take your resting RHR when you wake up in the morning while still in bed. After a week, you'll get a good idea of what the average is. If you wake up one morning and it is 5 beats or more over your normal RHR, it's an indicator that your body is stressed. It could be stressed because it is fighting a bug, tired from too much running, dehydrated, etc. It's a good idea to do a very easy run that day or rest. Don't do any hard or long runs, or rest, until it returns to normal. As you get fitter, there is a high probability your RHR will get lower. So, if the overall average keeps dropping, then that's a good sign.A lower than normal heart rate can also be a sign of over-training. If your RHR is normally 55 bpm, and suddenly it is 48 bpm, this might indicate your body needs recovery. I've seen this phenomenon the day after very long (duration) runs. I've also read posts of runners having lower than normal heart rates the day after their long run, and they end up running faster at the same HR, thinking it is in increase in fitness, when it is really the heart being in a state of recovery. Rest or a brief recovery run is the best thing the day after a long run.
Life Stress and Overtraining
The heart of Dr. Phil's books is "be healthy." The number one element to staying healthy is to avoid over-training. He has some excellent information on over-training in his books. He writes about three different levels, each progressively worse than the other.The MAF test is the best training tool in avoiding this condition. If you are not seeing any progress in your pace time, or if is regressing, then you might be on the borderline. There are many physical symptoms that will clue you in as well. Exhaustion, raised resting heart rate, and pain are just a few. Increased life stress outside of running can adversely affect the aerobic system.
"Runner's Obsession" is one of the biggest obstacles from getting to a healthy state, and also your goals. I really should call this section MY runner's obsession. It rears its ugly head with thinking like this:--my body is aching, I'm tired, but if I miss a day, I'll only have 49 miles for the week, and I was supposed to run 60.--my resting heart rate is 8 beats above normal, but if I take time off, I'll lose fitness.--I have to spend the day digging a ditch and dealing with stressful business, but I can't miss that run.--I was supposed to run 5 hours three weeks in a row, but my legs are sore and I'm tired, but still, I have to keep on track, keep on schedule. I'll tag today's time on to the rest day at the end of the week, and just run 13 days in a row.--it's the taper for the marathon, and I'm feeling beat up. My resting heart rate is high. I feel off, I might be coming down with something. I feel like I need a week off. But I might lose fitness. Be tough. Get out there. Run through it!--MUST NOT GO OFF SCHEDULE!--I'll never be great if I don't run the same amount as THAT great runner. I'm going to do what he does, and exceed it, no matter how hard it is.--I ran the Boston Marathon yesterday as a training run. I'm feeling so good, I'm going to run 80 miles this week. Even though I feel like I just ran a marathon. I can barely walk down the stairs, but it was only a training run. Get out there! This sort of thinking has not served me well. I imagine other runners deal with this. This idea that I can't miss a day or a week is obsession, and perhaps addiction. Many times, I haven't listened to my body because the goal, the schedule, and my fitness was all-important. The few injuries that I have had, and the state of over-training and aerobic deficiency in which I found myself at the end of 2008, were a direct result of this thinking. I still battle with it, but more and more I find it easier to take days off. This past year has proved to me that sometimes less is more in training; it is sometimes necessary to rest or cut-back in order NOT to lose fitness and health. Rest and recovery are not the enemy of performance.
Heart Rate Monitor Troubleshooting
Long-time heartrate trainers will tell you that theses contraptions are not perfect, and sometimes readings aren't what they should be. You'll be warming up and you'll see a reading of "167 bpm" or something , when your HR should be 105. Often we call this spiking.
These are some possible reasons for abnormal readings:
--strap/transmitter battery getting low
--Strap is slipping and isn't on tight enough. This could do it. If you can't get it tight enough, bunch it with a safety pin.
--running with a cel phone on the side of your body where you wear your watch.
--dirty transmitter. Make sure you wash the transmitter and strap once in awhile.
--running under high tension power lines
--not wetting the strap when you start
--having other hrm transmitters too close to you, or certain electrical appliances.
--certain fabrics in shirts will cause static electricity buildup on the transmitter
-- dry winter air can give you those spikes in the first mile. Putting the strap on a half hour early can help.
It also has been discussed in the past here how for a few people (in the heart rate threads over the years) those spikes were actually real, and they were having heart problems. One a racing heart, and the other ended up with a bypass. So when it happens, if you can't get it back down, take your pulse to make sure it's erratica and not reality.
Old LHRT/Basebuilding/Maffetone Threads On the Old Coolrunning For one of those rainy nights...I compiled links to all the old LHR/Maffetone threads created by Jesse (Formationflier, Lietnerj). Most migrated here after Active took over and changed it into something else. Enjoy.
May 2005-March 2006 (page 1 has been deleted) http://www.coolrunning.com/forums/Forum6/HTML/014522-2.shtmlMarch-Nov 2006 (page 1 has been deleted)http://www.coolrunning.com/forums/Forum6/HTML/018553-2.shtml Nov 2006-June 2007 (page 1 has been deleted)http://www.coolrunning.com/forums/Forum6/HTML/022020-2.shtmlJune-Oct 2007http://www.coolrunning.com/forums/Forum6/HTML/024412-48.shtmlOct 2007-til Armegeddonhttp://www.coolrunning.com/forums/Forum6/HTML/025568.shtml Dec 2007-til January 2008http://community.active.com/thread/20939/basebuilding-low-heart-rate-training-via-maffetone-mark-allen-hadd-mittleman/0/0
That's it. Take it or leave it, of course. It's a radical change in thinking, but it works, and it increases the probability that you will stay healthy. When beginning the base phase, I always think of Mark Allen saying how he was always training hard at 5:00 miles, and how when he put the HRM on, he suddenly was running 8 minute miles (like walking to an elite), after awhile he was back to 5:00 miles but at a very low level of exertion and heart rate, burning mostly fat as fuel, feeling healthy, and winning! That helps me keep going. Take care. Feel free to ask any questions. And if you happen to commit to a base phase using this method, you get three whiny posts about how slow you're going, and after that you'll be bombarded with suck-it-up posts. Keep going!
Log PRs Crusted Salt comic #173
Really glad to see both Jesse and Jimmy over here.
Jesse, would be interesting to see your training log from your 8 months when you started the MAF (where you saw your dramatic improvements - would be good inspiration.
how do I sticky-ize it?
When it’s all said and done, will you have said more than you’ve done?
I think my training log is all in now. It wasn't completely compatible with the old CR log, so it may
be tough to sift through, but if you start in around May of 2005, you can work your way through
and see what went on.
Life is short, play hard!
Yes, I did start this group last Spring when we were a much smaller group. Let me see how to make others admins and I'll do it. I'm also on the 2000 mile group and they made a bunch of us admins on there early in the year.
I know Jesse should be an admin....anyone else?
Jesse, I think you need to make your log public in the options for us to see. Thanks.
What is the 2000 mile group?! Sounds fun.