Low HR Training

Lydiard, Hadd, Maffetone (Read 2447 times)

    Hi All,


    I have completed two years of MAF type running.  Most of my miles have been run at MAF pace or below.  I have seen terrific improvement in how I feel and some improvement in race performance.  I felt I really needed this and have enjoyed it.  But, I have been intrigued by some Lydiard posts and other posts talking about the different training philosophies.


    I had never really looked that closely at them, until recently, because as a runner, I did not feel they applied to me based on where I was at. 


    But, I found some really interesting links that I thought helped me the most in comparing the different training methods and understanding Lydiard better.  The first link contains a link to a writeup that is very good, and includes some back and forth commentary involving Nobby. 




    The two links below were really good because they compared maffetone, lydiard and Hadd in a lot of ways.  I am not saying I understand or agree totally with what is written here, but it was interesting and I think had some good nuggets.






    In a nutshell, it appears to me that Maffetone has you running all your base miles at the lowest end of the aerobic zones.  Lydiard has you running all your base miles within all of the upper and lower and middle aerobic zones.  And Hadd is the same as lydiard, but he stays further away from the upper aerobic zone more, and has you focus on middle and lower aerobic zones.


    I have been very interested in this, ever since I first read about Lydiard recommending that you do all your base miles at a steady state pace.  Ever since I read that, I was very curious what he meant by steady state.  That is where the first link above helped me.


    Lydiard actually really has two base phases. The first phase is basically just like Maffetone to get your miles up.  But, once you have increased your miles to the point you want, then the next base phase keeps you at those miles, but has you delving into the upper aerobic zones.  Lydiard says you can stay in this phase for months.


    I have always thought of Lydiards base phase as really more of a speed phase, in terms of how I would look at it.  He basically has these quarter, half, and three-quarter efforts that I would define as maybe easy, semi-tempo, and tempo paces.


    Anyway, I am lookig forward to next year and experimenting with this.  I am at a point that I kind of want to try to get faster and maybe this will get me there.  Maybe not.  It will be interesting to try it.  I think as a younger runner, it definitely would, but as an older runner, I am not sure I would tolerate it.  I feel safer knowing I have the MAF test as my guard.  It will let me know if I am going off course.   


    I think Lydiard sounds kind of risky.  Maffetone will definitely keep you healthy and it feels good.  But, I think if you want to get faster in races, perhaps you have to delve into those higher zones more.  If you follow Lydiard all the way through, it sounds very cyclical.  You really build up and then peak for a particular race and then start all over again, after you break down. 


    It is very interesting.  But, right now I have just completed my first week off from running and think I am almost over the withdrawel symtoms (like depression, anxiety, etc. )  My legs are starting to feel good.

      I think the important point with all three of these training methods is that all of them emphasize that during base training, to avoid the anaerobic zones.  Lydiard is probably the most risky becasue it would be easy to enter that zone without realizing it.  The other are much safer for that.  And Lydiard has you doing some minimal speed work too.


      So, for the last two years I have done a MAF base phase and then I would tend to go into the race season.  This time I am interested in doing a MAF base phase, then a Lydiard base phase, then some speed work and then go into race season.  I am not sure how much speed work I really want to do.  I definitely would like to stick to MAF base phase until I get miles up to where I want them, and until I see my MAF pace plateu. 


      That is when I would like to try to do the Lydiard base phase of "steady state" running.


      I am suspecting that Lydiard is not for everyone, and possibly not for me.  It will be interesting to try it.  I suspect that I am not going to try a full Lydiard all the way through.  I think I am just most interested in the steady state base phase of it.  This will still be considered the aerobic zone, and in theory, you should see further aerobic improvement in this zone.  That is what is good about the MAF test.  It will tell me if that is so.

      Consistently Slow


          I definitely would like to stick to MAF base phase until I get miles up to where I want them, and until I see my MAF pace plateu. 


         I keep waffling on staying at 125 miles a month. Looked at your numbers and I am considering going lower. For the past 2 years you have been under 100 miles a month and you are getting faster." Time on feet "appear to matter. I am cutting my mileage.Now I have said! Time to make it happen. 

        Run until the trail runs out.

         SCHEDULE 2016--

         The pain that hurts the worse is the imagined pain. One of the most difficult arts of racing is learning to ignore the imagined pain and just live with the present pain (which is always bearable.) - Jeff

        unsolicited chatter



          Good links Run. I think I've mentioned this in some past posts but I plan to focus my training mostly Lydiard style in 2010. I was rereading the texts I have and Lydiard was a big proponent of running at the higher end of aerobic area. This to me seems to present and opportunity to train at MAF or slightly higher but below LT. I'm dropping the mile chase and running by time with the idea of 1 hour each day + 1x1.5 hour and 1x2 hour run per week. At the higher end of MAF I expect this to translate to 60-70 mpw for me. If I gain aerobic fitness I should see a resultant increase in miles. I plan to continue MAF tests as it will give me a good guide and fit into my take on Lydiard. I have one goal marathon in mind next year and plan to incorporate the hill and speed segments accordingly. However, I will add hills and speed on a limited basis during the year as I don't want to always be base building. Variety and all. Additionally, I have 6 other marathons I plan to run but not race.


          This is a good discussion topic and perhaps we can get Dr. Phil to chime in. I don't think his ideas are that far from Lydiard's in the effect that you have an aerobic base phase and then anaerobic phase. It seems that Lydiard's is more specified based on training techniques to elicit the desired results of goal race performance.

          "He conquers who endures" - Persius
          "Every workout should have a purpose. Every purpose should link back to achieving a training objective." - Spaniel




            Good idea and a worthy experiment.


            This link  on Mark Allen's training is worth a first or  second read. It ties in. Base phase, speed phase, race, etc.


            There's probably no one here that will get anywhere close to that volume, but the core ideas can be applied. I think with any method, you have to realize where you really are. Lydiard might say you can get up to 100 miles by week 9, but that could do you in as well, depends on your current level/age. MAF base phase is a great way to get your miles up while lessening the probability of injury. Following it with a period of above MAF, but sub anaerobic threshold, runs for hard days should improve your MAF tests greatly, if you are healthy and didn't overdo it during the base phase. Perhaps adding in a tempo run at AT or marathon pace every week or two along the way. The key is to balance out the aerobic and anaerobic. There is always a point where you will reach diminishing returns in each phase, including a race season. The key is to know when it is time to switch phases. MAF tests are a great tool, along with other indicators you might develop or find for yourself.


            I think it's a good thing to try different methods, and to develop a system that is tailored to your unique body and life. Allen found that strength training during the base phase helped him immensely. You might find that a slight tweak on the base phase works well for you, perhaps adding in a brief tempo run every few weeks or just doing some strides at the end of a run every now and then, even if it does "break the rules" so-to-speak. Maybe a 4 hour walk every other week does it for you. Whatever.


            MAF tests are key and I think Dr. Phil's E=MC²-like contribution to modern athletics.


            Thanks for the links and good luck with your experiment.




              Great series of posts. I'm in the opposite boat from you right now, Run, after an unplanned and forced period off from running - lifting heavier weights than was good for me (anaerobic training anyone?) and too much life stress -  getting back to a good long period at MAF is going to be a priority for me.


              Those posts really nail some of the most frustrating aspects of Lydiard's system for me.  Compared to our good Dr. Phil who gives us a very objective standard of effort (the 180- formula) and a very objective standard of performance (the MAF test), Lydiard training can seem maddeningly frustrating and imprecise.  I think it's largely a product of the trial and effort system of personal experimentation that Lydiard used to develop his system (unlike Dr. Maffetone who developed his from his clinical work).  Have you read Livingstone's "Healthy, Intelligent Training" it's a great overview of Lydiard's training with a more up to date, technical bent (even if the focus is more on the middle distances).


              Both Lydiard and Dr. Maffetone say their systems are centered on the aerobic systems with very short anaerobic periods.  Not to point to fine a point on it (and not to put words in Dr. Maffetone's mouth), but I think Dr. Maffetone would disagree with Lydiard on whether Lydiard's 1/2 and 3/4 effort "steady state" runs were necessarily aerobic. Remember, Dr. Maffetone's definition of "aerobic" is not the same as that used by many coaches and exercise physiologists (look at pp. 19-22 of "The Maffetone Method" for an example).  To me, that disagreement is more than a semantic one.  It's philosophical.   As I see it, Lydiard sought to maximize performance without risking health - it's a performance driven system in which some athletes thrived and others (not coached by Lydiard) crashed.  Dr. Maffetone's "Method" seeks to maximize health - it's a health driven system.  From his clinical experience he trusts that as health increases so will performance.


              Your plan to let the MAF tests be your guide sounds wise.  You'll know if the Lydiard (ahem "anaerobic") runs are too stressful by looking at those MAF tests.


              Remember, though, that even Dr. Maffetone doesn't recommend only aerobic training all the time.  He acknowledges that some anaerobic training ("anaerobic" as defined his way, of course) may be necessary or beneficial for increased health or performance.  However, the precise amount of anaerobic training that Dr. Maffetone would say is necessary might well be a lot less than most other coaches would recommend.  I think balance is always the key for Maffetone - making sure you don't let your anaerobic training (and life stressors) dominate.  Lydiard allows for some deeply unbalanced periods of training (think classical Lydiard hill bounding or Lydiard style "sharpening") in pursuit of a peak.  As you point out those periods of imbalance require a related period of recovery and recuperation.


              It would be great if Dr. Phil were to chime in here - great idea C-R.  I'd love to hear his views on Lydiard and how (or whether) Lydiard's experience and training methods impacted his studies and approach.


                Here's a passing thought on Lydiard:


                if you want to do Lydiard, do what Lydiard did: 


                experiment until you figure out what works for you:


                what phases, what elements they contain and when to switch between them.



                Wow, I've never worked with descending colons...my copy of "The Elements of Style" just got a boner.



                  I know some of you have been experimenting with running by feel.  Running a pace that feels aerobic.  I think that Lydiard is hard to pin down because it is based a lot on that.  "Steady state" running should feel aerobic, and should feel like you could do it again.  The second half of your run should feel the same, effort wise, as the first half of your run, and your pace should not slow during the second half of your run.  You should feel "pleasantly tired" at the end of your run.


                  I think when you run at your MAF pace, you are pretty much guarenteed to fulfill the above feelings.  But, it appears to me that you may be leaving something on the table, if you only limit yourself to the MAF pace, for your aerobic running, and for your base miles.  Lydiard says that if you are training at too low of a level, it will take much longer to develop aerobically.  But, of coarse, it is not good to train at too high of a level either.


                  I have experimented with running by feel recently.  I would still run with my HRM and record the data.  I found that on some days, I ran below MAF, and on other days, I ran above MAF.  It was liberating to not have to always be looking at my HRM and adjusting the pace according to the HRM reading.  Instead, I tried to adjust the pace based on whether it felt aerobic or not.


                  For the past two years, my MAF pace has not changed much.  It has been in the 10s almost the whole time.  I do not think I ever gave it a chance to improve because I went from MAF base phase straight into racing.  Some people have reported some improvement in the MAF pace during racing season.  I have not seen that.  Perhaps I would see an improvement in MAF pace during a lydiard base phase.  Even though I do tempo runs, etc. during racing season, I think that I spend too much time recovering from races and resting for races to allow aerobic improvement during racing season.


                  I liked what I read about the Lydiard base phase.  Lydiard considers this the most important phase.  And he says, once you stop this phase, you have capped your ability to improve aerobically.  The rest of the phases are just for peaking for race season.


                  What I am calling a lydiard base phase, is called a stamina phase by others, or an anaerobic phase, or a tempo phase.  I have seen others on this board make good improvements in this phase.  But, I think the best improvements came when poeple did not mix racing (anaerobic running) into it.  I never really understoond the distinction between high aerobic and anaerobic running.  I had thought that racing was a way to get faster paced running in.


                  When talking about MAF, here we tend to call anything above MAF anaerobic.  While others call the zone above the LT, the anaerobic zone.  Even Dr. Phil says to always avoid running above 90 percent max heart rate (which is about where LT is).  He notes that this is the only time he has ever given guidelines based on max HR rather than the MAF formula.  He says to keep the rest of the above MAF running to a minimum.  Even Lydiard seems to keep it to a minimum.  He still has four days of quarter speed running per week.


                  The lydiard base phase is the only part of Lydiard interests me now.  As far as miles per week go, I am not a high mileage runner.  Maybe I will try to get it up to 30 miles per week this year.  I was able to get it up to 25 miles per week last Summer.  That fell off a lot in the Fall when I started racing.  Racing really interfered with my ability to keep my miles up.


                  I am hoping that my ability to recover from racing will improve too, if I precede the racing season with the Lydiard base phase.  Going from 11 minute mile training runs (MAF pace) most of the time, to running 7 minute miles in a race is a big jump.  I think the Lydiard base phase will give me more miles in between those paces.


                  I know the theory is that running at MAF will be slow at first, but you will get faster for that heartrate.  That is definitely true, but once I plateaued to running in the 10s, I no longer saw improvement by just running at MAF pace.  I increased my miles from 15 to 25 miles per week last summer, and still did not see any significant improvement in the maf pace.  So, I think this coming season, I will do the MAF base phase again, get mileage up, and then when maf pace plateaus again, I will do the lydiard base phase, and see what happens.


                  So, that is my thinking.

                    if you want to do Lydiard, do what Lydiard did:  experiment until you figure out what works for you: 



                    And that is what I think I am doing.  I think that is part of what Lydiard is actually about.


                    I think part of my experimenting is the "thinking out loud" that I am doing here in this thread.  It has been very interesting to see responses and very helpful too.  Thanks!!!


                    I suspect that once I start Lydiard, I will find myself not veering much from MAF.

                      An interesting thread.


                      Anyone here ever read a little article titled "Long Term Comparison" by (IIRC) Orville Atkins in an old Runner's World publication on training methods?  It's very interesting, describing his training and marathon results under three very different training regimes over a period of years.  If nobody else posts on it and I can't find the booklet, I'll do my best to describe it from memory.


                        This is a great discussion -- I'm continually impressed with the posts here. 


                        I think Lydiard was a key person in the transition of endurance training, from just doing it, to thinking about the process and measuring it. Many people used his ideas in a variety of ways. I first learned about the concepts of base building in the late 1970s by reading Arthur’s work. His idea was that aerobic and anaerobic running should be balanced by specific training. Arthur, originally a distance runner himself, began coaching, and in the 1950s and 60s was a major influence in developing the running boom. He was like the George Washington of the running world, and endurance historians should view him like that and the media should write more about sports history instead of the trash they put out. Arthur trained many endurance athletes from around the world to greatness, including Olympic gold medalists Peter Snell (winning both 800 and 1500 meters in the 1964 Olympics), Lasse Viren (winning both 5K and 10K in the 1972 Olympics) and many others. But he was often misunderstood, in his writing and lecturing, and I think too many others tried defining his approach but without the accuracy.

                        In the early 1980s, I met Arthur at a sports camp we both lectured at, and a few weeks later he visited my clinic. I showed him what I was doing with measuring aerobic conditioning, and we talked a lot about the evolution of his program. Learning first hand from him was much different than trying to read his material. He was very intuitive, and frustrated that many in the endurance world did not grasp his concepts. In my mind, it was because they were not presented well, and, much of the good published research would not come for several years. However, the results of his work spoke volumes. I later realized it would be important to describe my ideas about training, from both a practical and physiological standpoint, in the best way possible. This further fueled my idea of writing a book about what I was doing.

                        Dr. Phil


                          how could Lydiards 1/2 or 3/4 pace be not fully aerobic ?


                          anaerobic treshold is your at the moment pace for 1H run - the max performance if it was a race.


                          Anything slower is aerobic.


                          Lydiards sessions would typicaly be longer than 1H, so from the definition it could not be anaerobic.


                          say the session is 75 mins at 3/4 pace, you need to run slower than your on a day best possible 1H performace pace so it is automaticaly aerobic.


                          yes you can run 75 mins to exhaustion and be done for a day or few, but because it was longer than 1H...

                          and of course you do not sprint finish the end of trainingsession.


                          the Lydiards paces were sometimes explained as :


                          1/4 pace - you are imediately after finishing to repeat the whole session at the same pace for the whole distance/duration (and there was at least 1 coach who occasionaly sent runners for repeats, so they really took 1/4 prescription pace seriously as they could never know...)


                          1/2 pace - you can repeat the whole session next day (pace and duration)


                          3/4 pace - you can only repeat the session after 1 day rest or recovery day


                          sidenote : the 1H pace as a treshold is what you can do on a day in those conditions, say if you can do fully rested and tapered in ideal weather atc, say 15km/h, but on a day when you are diciding on a proper pace for training session, with accumulated tirednes, weather... your 1H possible perfomance could only be 13 km/h... so that is the pace to calculate from, so the aerobic pace would be maybe 12 km/h as 3/4, 11 km/h as 1/2 and 10 km/h as 1/4 pace, just throwing some illustration numbers.


                            Hey Rudolf!  Welcome back.

                            When I wrote that Dr. Maffetone might not agree on whether Lydiard 1/2 and 3/4 effort runs were necessarily aerobic, I was intending to point out the different ways in which the two of them understand that word.


                            In the context of running, Lydiard uses "aerobic" to mean "running within your capacity to use oxygen." ("Running with Lydiard" p. 11).  To him any running beneath the so-called "lactate threshold" would qualify as "aerobic". (id)


                            Dr. Maffetone states that he chooses "not to use the definition of 'aerobic' associated with oxygen or breathing" ("The Maffeone Method" at 20).  Instead he uses the word "aerobic" to mean a state in which muscles are deriving most of their energy from fat (see id).


                            The differences can be profound.  Dr. Phil writes that after an aerobic workout we should feel as though we could immediately repeat the workout ("The Maffetone Method" p. 102).  That corresponds to a Lydiard 1/4 effort as you point out.  Lydiard's 1/2 and 3/4 efforts are at a higher level of intensity and might not be "aerobic" (as Dr. Maffetone uses that word).  Also, (and not surprisingly) Lydiard didn't define his effort levels by reference to Dr. Maffetone's 180- formula, which Dr. Maffetone uses to define the level of "Maximum Aerobic Function."


                            There might be some subtle differences that I'm missing, and I don't intend to put words in either Lydiard's or Dr. Maffetone's mouth.  My basic point was really just that the two of them use the word "aerobic" in a different sense and that difference in useage impacts their respective training philosophies.


                              thanks GMoney,

                              I see what you saying now, makes sense.


                              Lydiards 3/4 would likely be high sugar running, 1/4 likely fat only running and 1/2 would be mix.


                              Do you see it the same way ?


                              I try to simplify .


                              My personal feeling is, that for me :


                              3/4 == MAF HR


                              1/2 == MAF HR - 10


                              1/4 == MAF HR - 20


                              I remember few runners writing, that doing MAF test is too demanding and they cant repeat it day after day, so the MAF HR pace seems to be about 3/4 (need of rest days in between).


                              also from my experiments with multiday fastings etc, the pace at MAF HR was too dificult, simply there was the need of the sugars, while the MAF-20 (== 1/4) is possible any day any time, and seems to be easier during fasting

                              (likely the effect of cleaner-thinner blood and looser muscle fibres).


                              Somehow it is becoming now clearer to me, thanks for clarification.


                              ps - I did damage to my kbnee about 8 months ago (not from run/walk, something else) and could not do anything, starting again very slowly from zero point.


                                Good to see you back Rudolf. My take may be a little simple. During base 3/4 = MAF at any other part of training 1/2 = MAF. This would cover hill and speed periodization. One thing I like about Lydiard is using time as a baseline. It will act much like a MAF test in that you should get more miles in the same time as you get more conditioned. If you don't well the something is wrong. Aslo - based on reading Nobbys posts it seems Lydiard was intentionally vague by using 1/2 or 1/4 or 3/4 due to the fact that runners feel different on different days so your pace will naturally vary. This is a running by feel which is critical for knowing your body and racing at peak. Quite ingenious.

                                "He conquers who endures" - Persius
                                "Every workout should have a purpose. Every purpose should link back to achieving a training objective." - Spaniel