5K Training / MAF? (Read 106 times)



    Just found this forum and had some basic questions  and request for training advice I have not been able to find.


    My question is does anyone have some good proven training plans, recommendations or links that specify training just for 5K race distances? I have no desire to race anything more than that and on that end is the MAF training with the low weekly mileage volume I am running even worth doing? I would imagine the most mileage I will ever run in a week would be between 9 to 15 miles plus 4 days a week in the gym and low intensity bike rides in the spring & summer. .


    Just started running in November 2017 so have zero base mileage or aerobic base. I trained for a 2 mile race for 30 days doing mostly interval/tempo runs of 1 to 1.5 miles four times per week and finished the 2 mile race in 14:11 (Natick MA Jingle Run). Trained for a 5K 30 days later by doing staggered runs and distances (1.5 miles Tue/Thur 2 miles Sat - 2 miles Tue/Thur 2.5 miles Sat etc.) a bit longer distances (less anaerobic pace) and finished the 5K (Needham MA New Years Day Run) in 24:27. I took two weeks off and found the MAF training method and started the plan below. Mileage times have been between 13-14 minute miles and painfully slow. To maintain the 136bmp MAF pace is harder than I would have imagined (on my third training week) and was thinking about going up to about 146bmp to get started.


    Current training with the MAF 136 bpm zone is week one 1.5 miles Sat/Sun/Wed, week two 2 miles Sat/Sun/Wed, week three (here now) 2.5 miles Sat/Sun/Wed, week four 3 miles  Sat/Sun/Wed, week five 1.0 Sat/Sun/Wed then re-set back to the start.  So the mileage started at 4.5 miles per week up to 9 then back to 3 would be the goal then start over with one small interval workout per week to get set for St Patrick's day 5K.


    Any advice, opinions or thoughts would be appreciated.


    Thank You,




    Old , Ugly and slow

      I  would just build up to 5-6 on tue thur and 8-10 on Saturday.

      On Tuesday do some repeats of 200 or 400 at a fast pace maybes run a few miles at a fast pace on Thursday and run easy on Saturday . You can improve on low miles.

      I assume you are young . Also if weightlifting is your main goal you can't be your best at running at the same time .

      first race sept 1977 last race sept 2007


      2019  goals   1000  miles  , 190 pounds , deadlift 400 touch my toes


        Given that you raced a 5k recently @ 7:50 pace, I would say "no," the MAF method and mileage you're following is probably not worthwhile.  If you're 5k felt like an all-out race effort, your easy runs could be around 10:00-11:00 pace.  If you felt like you had something left in the tank after the 5k, then your easy runs could be as fast as 9:00 pace.  I don't see the point in slowing down so much it feels awkward just to hit a certain HR without any max HR or baseline data.


        Because you are such a beginner, you'll likely see a lot of improvement just by running consistently.  Run by feel and work on slowly increasing your mileage.  Your Tues/Thurs/Sat schedule is good, but eventually you'll need to add more days running to see 5k specific improvements.


        This is not a plan, but I think the article does a good job of explaining 5k training with some key workouts:


        and their comparison of various plans:



        The PDF linked on this page has a good plan that will build on what you've already done:

        http://running.competitor.com/2016/03/training/training-plan-5-weeks-to-your-first-5k_147318  - I know it's not your 1st 5k, but the mileage matches your experience.  I would suggest trying to run all the mileage and ignore the planned walk intervals.  I really like the information that Competitor publishes regarding workouts.


        Here's one from Runner's World that also keeps the 3-4 days a week schedule, but first has you running by time:



        Hope that helps.

        Not running for my health, but in spite of it.


          Something seems off here.  It's possible you are using the wrong target heart rate, have an inaccurate HR measurement, or both.


          How did you come up with 136 BPM as the target?

          How are you measuring your HR?

          What was your HR during the 5K?


          Your question is also too broad.  5K training can be anything from 10 MPW up to over 80 MPW. It really depends on your goals.  If you want to be the best 5K runner you can possibly be it will take several years and a lot more than 9-15 MPW.

            Thank you for the replies. I only ran a total of 27 miles in November and 24 miles in December and that is all for 2017. I was going to do all "easy" runs for January & February and this is where I found the information on the Dr Maffetones maximum aerobic function method. It has you run all miles in a heart rate of 180 - age (44) so that is where I got the 136 bpm. All of the charts indicate my high mileage time (13 to 14 minutes) relative to a much lower calculated 5K time indicates very low aerobic fitness which for me is exactly the case.


            The more I was reading about this though it appears this training really benefits longer distance training and race distances, not the real small amount of miles I put in each week which is why I found this forum for some additional advice. I think I am leaning towards upping the pace of me easy miles a bit for now.


            For the 5K I ran I tried to do the first mile as easy as I could (about 160 to 165 bpm) but still be at somewhat of a race pace & was hoping to speed up pass a few people for the second (which went O.K) but the last mile I was absolutely trashed, going backwards. I am so glad I knew to run at my pace and let people pass because I was in the 185/188 bpm range which I had not trained to that level much at all. Most hard runs for training were in the 170 to 175.


            My goals are to improve each 5K race (probably one a month) while still going to the gym and riding my bike realizing this could limit my running a bit, so any and all feedback is appreciated


            Thank You,




            Pace Prophet

              Brad Hudson's book Run Faster includes 5K plans.  But as Paul points out, running a 5k doesn't require a lot of mileage (or a training program) - racing a 5k requires a lot more than your proposed 9-15mpw.


              I'm of the opinion that if you're running that little, training plans are really not very useful.  The training effect depends on added stimulus, and you're not really getting that from ~10mpw.


              I also am of the opinion that MAF as written is not very useful, either, as it's based solely on age (plus a fudge factor for fitness) which doesn't really make much sense.  However, I'm also of the opinion that easy running should be the foundation of any training program. Also, based on your 2M and 5k runs, you are lacking in endurance (common for new runners) - the 2M result is the equivalent of ("predicts") a 22:38 5k.  It's not clear what your current non-MAF-controlled training pace is, but based on your 5K, Jack Daniels suggests 10:30-ish.

              PRs: 10 1:12:59 (4/2014) 13.1 1:35:55 (10/2013) 26.2 3:23:31 (12/2013)

              bloggy stuff at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org

                Thank you for the feedback, those links are exactly the type of workouts I was looking for. I had thought 5K training would be more anaerobic speed work so it was great to see this is not exactly the case. I have decided to modify my training a bit to find a good balance between running "easy" or more aerobic but not to the extreme of the MAF 136 BPM limit. Will try to see if I can get closer to the 11 to 10 min mile range and see where my average heart rate is at that pace and go from there. Started training with a Garmin Forerunner 25 so that has been a huge improvement over my Sigma heart rate monitor which just gave the current reading.


                Thanks again for your help.



                  Not that it matters but I am 44 years old 6'4" and weigh between 235lb and 230lb, again my ultimate goal is to train to get my 5K times down and the times I am gunning for would be for anything under 7 minute mile averages. If I could somehow take one minute off each mile and run a race between 21:42 and 21:08 would be an accomplishment and that is my goal for this year. The reading and advice I have received so far has helped and made me rethink my strategy about speed work vs. aerobic mileage. I really thought of the 5K distance as a sprint distance race and was going to do much shorter high intensity runs once this base period of two months is over in March, but thinking about doing some higher volume training at an easier pace to get up some better endurance because I certainly did crash at about the 1.5 mile mark in the one race I did at this distance. So much so I was convinced they had neglected to put up the 2 mile sign marker.


                  After this next training week think I will change my schedule to fit in a longer Saturday run over time which would have Sunday be a gym/easy bike day and fit in two or three other during the week.


                  Thanks Again,




                  Pace Prophet

                    It is instructive (and a bit counter-intuitive) to realize that within organized athletics, the 5k is considered a "long distance" race!  In fact 800m to mile-length (sometimes 3000m) is considered "middle distance"; shorter than that are sprints, and longer are distance.


                    Most of your training, even for a 5k, should be easy running. No matter the distance, any training program should include both speed training (getting faster over short distances) and endurance training (being able to run for a long period of time), and workouts intended to make them meet at the intersection of race pace and race distance.

                    PRs: 10 1:12:59 (4/2014) 13.1 1:35:55 (10/2013) 26.2 3:23:31 (12/2013)

                    bloggy stuff at http://ilanarama.dreamwidth.org


                    Old , Ugly and slow

                      Look you have done very good on little miles.

                      But age and more so weight matters .

                      230 pounds even if it is all muscle is going to be a disadvantage running a 5k.

                      first race sept 1977 last race sept 2007


                      2019  goals   1000  miles  , 190 pounds , deadlift 400 touch my toes

                      an amazing likeness

                        I guess my point was that there is no correlation between the number of miles per week a person is currently running and the race times they are able to achieve, especially in a short race like the 5k.


                        We see faster runners, ask them what they are doing to run that time, and they say: well, I've been running 35 miles per week in 5 runs. Or 15 miles per week in three runs. And I'm able to run a 19 minute 5k. But this means almost nothing, you see. No conclusions can be drawn from this information. Just resentment. Or pride. Or envy. Small bursts of feeling that will be gone within the hour.


                        We want running to be what life is not. We want there to be a straight line between the work that one puts into their training and the times that result from that work. But there are no straight lines in nature. It's all curves and blind corners. Accidents and dreams. It's out of these raw materials that the runner is built.


                        I'll tell you the secret right now: being the runner that you want to be takes uncovering the rarest of combinations: the patience to work through injuries and sickness, in cold rain, across silent mornings, and beneath winter moons relentlessly towards your goal,  and the almost reckless extravagance to reap what you have long sown in the right instant, at the Moment of Truth. It takes the confluence of chronos and kairos to ride the razor's edge, to run the perfect race, to be that guy--the runner. That's what it takes, no more and no less.


                        And yet here we find ourselves once again. We wring our hands like worried farmers gazing over dry fields. We chart the correlation between race times and weekly mileage, looking for some hidden truth. Believing perhaps that if we worry hard enough over it, God will have mercy, the drought will end, and the big heavy drops will start to fall.


                        I think burried somewhere in what Jeff was saying is the point that things like lifetime mileage and even recent mileage are a hell of a lot more important than current mileage.  The reason Jeff can run a sub 20 5k off of 3.1 miles per week (or zero miles per week for that matter) has an awful lot to do with the many tens of thousands of miles he's run in his lifetime, over a period of many years, at all different speeds, in competition, in workouts, in play, over all kinds of terrain, in all kinds of conditions.  Backed up by good genes.


                        If you've run 25,000 miles in the last 10 years, or if you ran 6,000 miles between January 2007 and December 2008, that's probably has a lot more to say about what you can run a 5k right now than what mileage you're running right now.


                        At least I think he was saying that.

                        I've done my best to live the right way. I get up every morning and go to work each day.


                          There's no such thing as low-mileage MAF. You need stress to become better and in MAF training, the stress is volume.


                          btw, I have to work really hard and concentrate to get my heartrate UP to my MAF of 125. I guess 30 years of slow running has grooved me at a low heartrate.


                          I did do 5k races 15-20 years ago. My best was 22:47 at 255 lbs. That was gut-puking fast for me. I couldn't get near that now. I don't think mileage, recent or lifetime, has that much to do with 5k speed. It'll take mileage to reach your potential, but that potential may be going from an untrained 18 min to a trained 16 min for one person and going from 29 min to 25 min for another.


                          A grad student from Thailand, who was a fit young guy but not a runner, lived with us for a semester. I talked him in to registering for a 5k. That morning I woke him up a few minutes before the race, he put his shoes on in the car, and was literally running from the car to the start when the gun went off. He took off in a dead sprint. I thought "ha ha, he'll crash", but I didn't see him again in the race or after it. I hung around and found out he'd run 18:30. He'd finished and then walked home a few blocks away and was asleep in his bed by the time I got home.