I thought I'd give this MAF stuff a try and see what happens. I am trying to increase my weekly mileage without getting hurt so that I have a shot at finishing the 50k I signed up for in February.
A little about myself: I am 36 so I'm using 144 as my HR cap. I don't think I really fit any of the categories for raising or lowering the number. I've been running for a year with a weekly average of ~ 15 miles, but doubt I've ever actually ran a 15 mile week! My running has been pretty haphazard. For a while I was basically just doing long runs on some weekends - up to 20 miles (with a significant amount of walking) and a bunch of crossfit. My HR max is around 200. I hit 196 or 197 at the end of 5k's.
I only run on trails, and as you can see from the data below it is a little tricky keeping the HR in line. I am using a ~1.2 mile loop for the splits since my Garmin's distance is a little flaky on trails.
Warming up properly is a little tricky... I can walk and get my heart rate up to 110 (115 if I push into somewhat uncomfortable territory) and when I start jogging I hit 130 pretty quickly. 110-130 is sort of a dead zone that I can only hit in passing. The only solution I can come up with is to jog until I hit 130 then walk until it falls back down to 115 then jog etc. Does this sound reasonable?
I tend to take a long time to feel really warmed up. Usually it's around mile 5 or 6 before I really get into a groove (if I just start running) and I'd love to find a warm up protocol that would get me there faster.
Which approach seems better? Dec 4 or 5th? Or is it not that important?
Does it get easier to maintain a stable heart rate? So far I am not feeling any clues when I unconsciously increase the effort level (aside from the HR display). I am hoping my body will figure it out on its own (it is usually smarter than I am).
I need to get out and run parts of the race course on the weekends. Any advice on how to practice running on technical hilly trails while staying at least sort of at MAF? Even walking up some of the hills gets my heart rate up to 160. I could I suppose just run down and really slowly walk up. Any other ideas?
I noticed a couple of interesting things.
When my mind starts to wander my pace either picks up too much or falls way off. Must stay focused! Aside from one hill at the end of the loop, the only time I had to walk was after speeding up for no apparent reason.
I never felt hungry! Usually somewhere between 1.5 and 2 hours my stomach, rather insistently, starts talking to me. Today's run lasted 2:10 and I never felt a thing.
Mt Cheaha 50k 2/23/2013: 7:34 :D
Lake Martin 50; 27 miles: 5:29:07
Run For Kids 50k, Birmingham, 5/4/2013: 6:26:33 Woot!
Hmmm, I rarely run on trails but when I do I am able to keep my MAF somewhere in check even on the technical trails.
Can you do the MAF test on the roads? Just the test to see how it goes. As to warmups, I usually do 7 miles that day with the first 2 as my warmup and the last 5 as my MAF test. It works for me.
What ultra are you planning in February? I have my first as well and it is a trail 50K. Looking forward to see how the MAF HR helps me there.
Damaris, Marathon Maniac, Ultra Runner, INKnBURN Ambassador
"The most powerful weapon on earth is the human soul on fire."
I have some hills that I still have to walk if I'm sticking to MAF and my MAF pace is around 10:00 pace.
I have one hill that I can't even walk briskly on and stay under MAF, I have to slow my walk down a little.
Upcoming races: HURL Elkhorn 50K Trail Run - 8/1/15
Age: 47 Weight: 205 Height: 6'3" (Goal weight 195)
Current PR's: Mara 3:48:09 (2013); HM 1:36:42 (2015); 10K 43:59 (2014); 5K 21:27 (2013)
I'm not super strict about my MAF, but I do low-HR training for the vast majority of my runs (zone 1, 20+ BPM below my marathon average, It would have been 180-age+5 when I started using it, also corresponds to about 69% HRR for me, etc). Sometimes I'm off by a beat or two. For me, it doesn't seem to matter. I'm happy with my progress anyway.
I'm averaging ~7:20-50 on roads lately....and on trails? Yeah, I freaking walk hills. No shame in that.
It always takes me 2-3 miles to feel warmed up. I don't think it's possible to feel warmed up in less than 20 minutes or so. Sometimes I walk before I run to aid this.
Eventually, you'll find the effort groove. I can FEEL when I cross my HR threshold and don't look at my watch all that much these days. It took me a couple months to be able to do this. Your body WILL learn the effort. Give it time.
"When a person trains once, nothing happens. When a person forces himself to do a thing a hundred or a thousand times, then he certainly has developed in more ways than physical. Is it raining? That doesn't matter. Am I tired? That doesn't matter, either. Then willpower will be no problem." Emil Zatopek
Docket_Rocket: I am doing the Cheaha 50k. What about you?
I could try a MAF test on roads, but I always feel so beat up after running on roads that it feels counter productive. Maybe the local track would be better? And don't even try to suggest a treadmill lol... I lose all coordination on a treadmill. Stationary bike, stair stepper, rowing machine no issues, but treadmills turn me into a spastic nut.
My plan for this weekend is for 16ish miles of fairly technical hilly trails. I'll see how it goes at MAF. An experiment of sorts. It'll probably give me a better idea of what hills I should be walking during the race and how fast I should be walking them (I'll be on the actual course).
Glad to hear I should develop some ability to feel the right effort level with some practice. Looking forward to not having to concentrate quite so hard on maintaining the right heart rate.
Chasing the bus
“You're either on the bus or off the bus.” ― Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test
If you are attempting to train just at MAF of below for a base training period, then there are several approaches to this. Take at least 15 minutes to warm-up to the target HR---you can always take much more if you want. If you have to walk to keep your HR in the target zone, do so. Here are some of the ways I've seen people approach MAF training:
1) Stay in a small zone near the number. E.G. if you're MAF is 144, stay in a zone on 139-145 as best as you can. Even smaller, like 143-145 is doable.
2) Stay in a larger zone of 10 beats. E.G. 134-144 bpm
3) Work in a zone well below MAF. E.G. 114-134 bpm. Leaving room for those spikes you might see on trails. Never worrying much about MAF.
People have been successful with all three approaches. The proper volume is what is key. Proper might mean 3-6 hours for a newbie or a stressed out person, or 12-20 hours for a very advanced runner. If you monitor your MAF speed, you'll find your volume sweet spot. THe sweet spot changes over time, depending on whether or not your aerobic system is developing properly.
Some are much looser with their approaches for base periods. They might establish a pace or feel that keeps their HR at MAF for the first part of the run, then keep the same pace, despite their HR rising to (e.g.) MAF +10 by the end of the run. Maybe throw in some strides once or twice a week at the end of a run. The main rule is that your aerobic speed (speed at MAF) should be improving. If your strategy gets that speed moving in the proper direction, then good. MAF tests are always the guide.
It's always an experimental journey.
Thanks for the great advice. I think I am going to work on hitting the 134-144 range during the week, while actually trying to stay under 140 to avoid too many spikes. But I'll loosen it up a little on the weekend.
I just had an awesome ... umm... power hike? with occasional running thrown in, mostly on the downhills. 16+ miles in just under 5 hours, with 5300ft elevation gain + loss ( I think.. when I uploaded the data the first 2.5 miles somehow don't show up on the graph or in the elevation profile... so actually got a little more than 5300ft). Average heart rate 142. Average pace 18:22 min/mile (including potty breaks, time spent admiring various waterfalls, conversations with hikers headed the other direction, messing with gear, chilling at the turn around points etc). Plenty of rocks and roots and creek crossings, but mostly what I consider runnable. Actual moving pace was probably somewhere a little over 17 mpm, given that I figure I was not moving for a little over 20 minutes total.
I was frequently over 144 though. Sometimes the hills would spike the heart rate fast! I decided to not worry too much about heart rates up to 155 on the steeper hills. I'd just slow down a little and let the heart rate mosey back below 144. My garmin doesn't beeb very well. It seems to miss my going over 144 pretty often. Since 150 is when I usually notice that my effort has increased, I spent a lot of time cruising along around 146-148 without realizing my heart rate was too high.
The amazing part was how awesome I felt the whole way. I'd only brought 2 packs of sports beans (turns out I'm not really a fan) and a 10oz bottle of some fruit juice, (and about 80oz of water) and never had low energy... I was almost always itching to speed up. I was even debating adding a couple extra miles at the end until I realized I hadn't put my light in my pack and it was going to get dark soon.
The last mile+ was on a nice gravel/dirt road, slightly downhill, and I was comfortably running under 13mpm! Still a little high at times but the average rate was 145. What I really need is a heart rate display I can mount on my visor so I can always see it.
So unless I get some evidence that letting my heart rate go up a little too much on my long run on the weekend is hurting my progress (ie I dont have generally improving MAF times during the week), I am going to keep this strategy. Right now I feel like I am going to recover easily, but my views on that may change when I get up tomorrow. For now I feel great.
I felt like I got a lot of solid power hiking (on flats to slight uphills), and a chance to practice running technical flats/ downhills both of which I really need. Also happy to see that even at the end I could still get my heart rate to drop when needed. I also felt really consistent, like I wasn't really slowing down for the same effort level. Technically I sped up, but that was due to the terrain not an increase in effort.