Low HR Training

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The boilerplate low HR training post (Read 9086 times)

pta98


    I have been watching this topic for the past 4 months and I am quite interested. Ok I have a beginner question. I have been running off and on over the past 3 years. I have done around 20 5ks but never any farther and not extremely fast either. I had some surgery about 2 months ago so I am starting all over again. My question is should I get back to being able to run 3 miles without stopping or start with this now and working my way back to running. I am 50 years old and would like to do a marathon around the end of this year even if I have to walk part of it. I am also hypoglycemic hence the reason I want to try this method of training. suggestions would be greatly appreciated.


    run-easy-race-hard

      I have been watching this topic for the past 4 months and I am quite interested. Ok I have a beginner question. I have been running off and on over the past 3 years. I have done around 20 5ks but never any farther and not extremely fast either. I had some surgery about 2 months ago so I am starting all over again. My question is should I get back to being able to run 3 miles without stopping or start with this now and working my way back to running. I am 50 years old and would like to do a marathon around the end of this year even if I have to walk part of it. I am also hypoglycemic hence the reason I want to try this method of training. suggestions would be greatly appreciated.
      Well, I can only say that following this approach will likely be a very safe way to ease your way back into running without interfering with your recovery.
        Hi Jesse, Thanks for responding and reading my story and answering my questions. I have not seen improvement in MAF time, but I mostly attribute it to lack of miles. I was only doing 8 miles per week for the first month and now I am doing about 16 mile per week, but I do feel the benefits in the way I feel. For example, in playing basketball all those years, and doing the jogging, I was constantly injuring my calf muscles. I was always working on stretching them, etc. but when I did calf stretches, they always felt sore at the end of the stretch. Now, when I stretch them, they feel more flexible, and they do not feel sore anymore. They have not felt this way in years. I played basketball and jogged so often in that anaerobic zone, that it just resulted in minor injuries. Now, that I am doing low hr training, I just feel that all my muscles are not oxygen deprived, and are getting everything they need from the blood supply, even while running. When the weather gets better, I am looking forward to some longer runs and increasing mileage. But, right now I just want to get through the winter. I also don't have too much time these days with a 1 year old and a 3 year old at home. I hope to peel off more time for it, in the spring. I recently noticed that my MAF times got worse by about a minute per mile. Well, guess what, I was coming down with a cold. This is the second time I noticed this phenomonon. The MAF tiimes are sometime a really good indicator of your general health, before you even feel the symptoms.


        Future running partner.

          What a good story! I'll do my best at your questions: I notice that hills (down hills) are recommended. I had been doing a somewhat hilly coarse until I found a place to run with an indoor track (I live in the Northeast). I have really enjoyed running on a flat even surface and not worrying about going over MAF because I hit a slight upgrade. Is there a disadvantage to this? The advantage to me is that I am able to find a nice rythem. Really, it's not a big deal, but it may explain why you're not seeing much in the way of pace improvement. The faster paces you put in on the downhill segments are helpful in building running economy and keeping you from getting fixated into a single pace. However, if you're happy with how things are going, there's certainly nothing wrong with it.
          I live in an area where it's fairly flat. There are some hilly routes but I have to drive about 30-40 minutes to them. I had read from some experienced coaches and athletes that a little speed work year round is good. During a build up/base phase of training this past winter I started running some very controlled stride outs. After the medium long runs mid week I would run 3 to 5 strideouts afterward. My goal was to keep fast twitch active, to help improve flexability, and to balance some muscle inbalances that can occur from lots of LSD. I would only run each one long enough until I would just start to breath hard. Not long after doing this, I ran a 10k PR and felt stronger than usual doing it. The thing to keep in mind is that these are not sprints. They should be fast but feel smooth and in control. What are your thoughts as an alternative to down hill running, if hills are not available.


          run-easy-race-hard

            It's all an individual thing. For those that have built a solid aerobic base an have developed the fat-burning efficiency, a small amount of volume of speedwork should be helpful. For those that still have a long way to go to transition from primarily carb-burning to primarily fat-burning, even a small amount of speedwork may be counterproductive. We have both types around here, many who are very successful with mixing speedwork in.


            2011 Redding (CA)

              Thanks "formationflier" and "jimmyb" for great, great information on the Maffetone Method. Count me among the new converts. Now ... if I can just get through the "patience" phase. The start is really hard on the ego, as jimmyb said it would be. Go Marathon Maniacs.

              2011 Redding Marathon (CA),  2011 Yakima Marathon (WA),  2011 Eugene Marathon (OR),  2011 Newport Marathon (OR)

              2011 Pacific Crest Marathon (OR),  2011 Smith Rock Summer Classic Half (OR),  2011 Haulin' Aspen Trail Half (OR)

              2011 Running is for the Birds 10Km (OR),  2011 Sunriver Marathon (OR)

              jimmyb


                HERE'S A REBOOT OF THE INITIAL BOILERPLATE POST BY FORMATIONFLIER

                (if the moderator's could please, copy this and put it in the first post, that'd be cool)

                 

                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.

                Log    PRs

                lesterbsb


                  Hi mates,

                  I started reading stuff on low HR training, Maffetone´s method, etc. I´m not a beginner runner, but last year I got stuck after gifted on an ITB injure. I´m running minimalists, 5 fingers, since january 2013.

                   

                  But there´s one thing is vague enough, that´s almost making me get rid of this low hr training: the lack of coaches or some source to help me schedule a training program. Yes...its written everywhere that it´s particular to my goals...so Every trainning plan is !!! And my goal is 42k under 3h15.

                  What I do need and cannot find answers after a couple of weeks on  search is :

                   

                  - How long should I run daily at this begining (12 weeks of basebuild)

                  - How much should I increase running time weekly?

                  - What trainning variations should I be submitted (short runs, long runs, speed runs....)

                  - After those 12 weeks, how should I train?

                   

                  This method appears to be so cool, but it´s impressive neither Phil Maffetone has more than 1 coach he knows who follows his method ! Why????? It´s damn hard to find someone to prepare you with this low hr approach, and I´d be extremely thankful to find someone to guide me through this process (or send me a coach´s name)

                   

                  many thanks to all of you, keep running !

                   

                  Lester

                  jimmyb


                    Hi mates,

                    I started reading stuff on low HR training, Maffetone´s method, etc. I´m not a beginner runner, but last year I got stuck after gifted on an ITB injure. I´m running minimalists, 5 fingers, since january 2013.

                     

                    But there´s one thing is vague enough, that´s almost making me get rid of this low hr training: the lack of coaches or some source to help me schedule a training program. Yes...its written everywhere that it´s particular to my goals...so Every trainning plan is !!! And my goal is 42k under 3h15.

                    What I do need and cannot find answers after a couple of weeks on  search is :

                     

                    - How long should I run daily at this begining (12 weeks of basebuild)

                    - How much should I increase running time weekly?

                    - What trainning variations should I be submitted (short runs, long runs, speed runs....)

                    - After those 12 weeks, how should I train?

                     

                    This method appears to be so cool, but it´s impressive neither Phil Maffetone has more than 1 coach he knows who follows his method ! Why????? It´s damn hard to find someone to prepare you with this low hr approach, and I´d be extremely thankful to find someone to guide me through this process (or send me a coach´s name)

                     

                    many thanks to all of you, keep running !

                     

                    Lester

                    Dr. Maffetone doesn't provide training plans because everyone is different, and a training plan that is good for one runner might send another into over-training and injury. You have to remember that he comes from a different point of view that was developed working with broken-down athletes. This program came out of him helping them to get out of practices that were keeping them in OT and constant injury. Each training schedule was different for each person, depending on how fast they healed and what was happening with their aerobic systems.

                     

                    This program is simple:

                     

                    1) Monitor your aerobic system and speed, which is your speed at your MAF. Your aerobic speed should improve, not regress or remain on an extended plateau. You can do a formalized 1 to 5 mile  MAF test (or a set duration, e.g. 30 minutes), or just monitor a run you do at MAF pretty much the same way and on the same course all the time. Treadmill is fine for this as well.

                     

                    2) You can use any beginner training plan you want out there in terms of the daily volume, just monitor your MAF. You can eliminate any speed work in the plan and just keep to the mileage or duration in the schedule. Be conservative at first. I think it's a good idea to keep your schedule hard/easy. Always follow a hard day (long duration or mileage, speed work) with an easy day (rest, or brief exercise at MAF or below). Be smart. It's easy to create a schedule for yourself. Start at a level where you know you're not overdoing it, then build up duration or distance on your hard days. 5% increase is a safe number usually. When you've maxed out on those days, build up the easy days a little. Always monitoring your aerobic speed.

                     

                    3) Dr. Maffetone suggests periodization with an aerobic base phase, followed by anaerobic work or racing. The base phase is for building up your volume and working specifically on your aerobic system. No speed work, no going over your MAF. Just all aerobic. At least 12 weeks. When you bring in anaerobic work (intensities over MAF), he suggests keeping it to 90% MHR or below. Or you can start racing and have that be your anaerobic work. Some runners will do some speed work during base phase and do just fine, but others need to stick to MAF and below. Depends what the MAF tests are doing. Depends how your body is doing. It always comes down to your aerobic speed and how you feel. That's the heart of the program. You can experiment and see what works for you, just keep monitoring speed at MAF. If it starts to tank, adjust your training. It could be you need to eliminate anaerobic work. Or maybe you need more aerobic volume.

                     

                    4) Walk if you have to. If you find you have to walk to keep your HR at MAF or below, then you need to be walking. It won't hurt you at all. I've done periods of just walking and my running aerobic speed improved. Eventually you won't have to walk at all to keep it there.

                     

                    5) If you're physically exhausted, don't exercise. Rest. If you're injured, consider cutting out speed work and races until you heal. If you're injured in the base phase, cut back or rest. Don't be afraid to miss a day of training. If you do, don't try to make it up. Your body needed the rest. Rest is a huge part of improvement. Be careful not to get obsessed with training and racing. Obsession, whether it be mild or over-the-top, probably causes more injuries and OT than anything.

                     

                    Monitor your aerobic speed, be smart about building up on hard days, and walk and rest when you need to. And don't get too crazy about this fun pastime. Good luck. Keep us posted.

                    Cool

                    Log    PRs


                    KerryR

                      It's worth taking a look at Phil Maffentone's (recent as of this post) article: "Why don't I get faster"?

                       

                      The take home message is this: It's not really about the training, it's about balance. You won't get faster unless you address all three sides of the health triad: Mental, diet, and physical. Most of us only look at the physical (training) component. Without balancing the other 2 components, speeds are unlikely to improve very quickly, if at all. IT"S NOT NEGOTIABLE. Balance is THE key, or this stuff won't work. It takes a lot of discipline and analysis.

                       

                      When I recently (mid summer) committed to balance, health and speed finally improved in non-subtle ways, even though I had been MAF HR training off and on for many YEARS prior to this.

                      Trailglover63


                        Wow! What a great thread, full of incredible information. Thank you!

                        I have only read the first 2 posts so far, and will work my way through every last one throughout the weekend, but I wanted to add:

                         

                        Being under your MAFF rate just means you are not getting 100% aerobic benefit. So you might only be getting 85 or 90% if you are at 126 and your MAFF rate is 130. However, being over wipes out the aerobic growth altogether. As Jimmy pointed out you can blip above briefly, but you can't stay there.

                         

                        About the actual MAFF rate number. I read all the time from naysayers and critics that it CANNOT BE ACCURATE IF IT IS A FORMULA! Everyone is different etc. Well, Dr Maffetone never said he can tell you exactly what your anaerobic threshold is, that only an expensive test could do that. But from his having the data from runners and athletes who had the expensive tests, he was able to come up with a formula that could get you within 5 of that number, and if it was in error it would be on the conservative side (see point 1 about it better to be under than over). So if you are not near a lab that can do the tests, or cannot spend that kind of money, the MAFF formula will get you really close to it, and will put you in the aerobic zone where you need to be.

                         

                        Also I had a lot of problems with my HR monitor once it turned cold. I thought it was from the layers ir from static electricity (from reading forum threads), but it was not. I started wiping some aloe gel on my strap where the sensors are and it works like a charm now. I just wasn't sweating enough in the cold, at the start of my runs, for it to work apparently.

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