12

# Does MAF training really need to be overly complex and compicated? (Read 168 times)

One thing I've noticed that gives MAFfing a bad rap, and I see it from forum members a lot, is that people say they are a MAFfer or follow a MAF base but in reality they do not. MAF is supposed to be done AT MAF or below, as Jimmy just stated above, and it totally makes sense if you think about it. MAF stands for Maximum Aerobic Function and is calculated by a very easy formula of 180-age (plus of minus for other factors) and again is the MAXIMUM HR, not the average HR of the enrire run. I see people classifying and stating they did a MAF run that averages their MAF HR or even higher, yet the last few miles will be 10-15 beats OVER MAF. All that means is that the first few miles were basically a warmup and way under MAF which is good, but it doesn't mean you should them keep speeding up as the run progresses and stop when your average HR hits MAF.

My reason for saying that sinario gives MAF a bad rap is that those people will most likely still get injured, or sick or will not show the progress that they could or should be seeing and when the general running public hears or reads this, they think there is really no merit to it.

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

2014 Goals:

Stay healthy

Enjoy life

dwillens

I have no idea whatsoever what you are talking about. I admit nothing.

One thing I've noticed that gives MAFfing a bad rap, and I see it from forum members a lot, is that people say they are a MAFfer or follow a MAF base but in reality they do not. MAF is supposed to be done AT MAF or below, as Jimmy just stated above, and it totally makes sense if you think about it. MAF stands for Maximum Aerobic Function and is calculated by a very easy formula of 180-age (plus of minus for other factors) and again is the MAXIMUM HR, not the average HR of the enrire run. I see people classifying and stating they did a MAF run that averages their MAF HR or even higher, yet the last few miles will be 10-15 beats OVER MAF. All that means is that the first few miles were basically a warmup and way under MAF which is good, but it doesn't mean you should them keep speeding up as the run progresses and stop when your average HR hits MAF.

My reason for saying that sinario gives MAF a bad rap is that those people will most likely still get injured, or sick or will not show the progress that they could or should be seeing and when the general running public hears or reads this, they think there is really no merit to it.

One thing I've noticed that gives MAFfing a bad rap, and I see it from forum members a lot, is that people say they are a MAFfer or follow a MAF base but in reality they do not. MAF is supposed to be done AT MAF or below, as Jimmy just stated above, and it totally makes sense if you think about it. MAF stands for Maximum Aerobic Function and is calculated by a very easy formula of 180-age (plus of minus for other factors) and again is the MAXIMUM HR, not the average HR of the enrire run. I see people classifying and stating they did a MAF run that averages their MAF HR or even higher, yet the last few miles will be 10-15 beats OVER MAF. All that means is that the first few miles were basically a warmup and way under MAF which is good, but it doesn't mean you should them keep speeding up as the run progresses and stop when your average HR hits MAF.

My reason for saying that sinario gives MAF a bad rap is that those people will most likely still get injured, or sick or will not show the progress that they could or should be seeing and when the general running public hears or reads this, they think there is really no merit to it.

Back in the days of Coolrunning, I did enough debating about this subject, as did Jesse (FOrmationflier), that I eventually realized it's wasted energy. Just as so many arguments about any training method are. The one mistake I personally have made, and try never to make again, is taking a training method someone else is using and making a judgment on it, without having actually researched it and tried to find out everything I could on it, and actually experimented with it. Even after all that, I still try not to solidify some belief in my mind that its BS or harmful or whatever. Especially when there are a group of people that are succeeding with it.  I'm always willing to share what I know about the Maffetone Method and point people to where they can learn more, and then I leave it at that.

In keeping with this thread's topic, MAF training is the simplest of methods, and doesn't have to be complicated. People like me, who are dataholics, and who want to know more about what makes it tick, tend to make it look more complicated than it is. It's really just running at a certain heart rate at specific times, and monitoring the progress/regression of the speed at which you move at that HR, and adjusting accordingly if need be. That's it.

In keeping with this thread's topic, MAF training is the simplest of methods, and doesn't have to be complicated. People like me, who are dataholics, and who want to know more about what makes it tick, tend to make it look more complicated than it is. It's really just running at a certain heart rate at specific times, and monitoring the progress/regression of the speed at which you move at that HR, and adjusting accordingly if need be. That's it.

I agree Jimmy, it is very simple. Calculate your MAF HR and go for a run. Try not to let your running HR exceed the MAF number you calculated. If your HR begins to drift or climb above your MAF number, slow down. If that means you have to walk for a little while or up a hill, then walk. Try to run as often as you can. Also try to lengthen your time running.

Do a MAF test every couple weeks and see if you are speeding up or slowing down at MAF. If your speeding up, then congrats, its working and keep it up. If your pace is regressing compared to previous tests, you may have to adjust your MAF HR down a few beats and start again and keep track of the MAF tests.

If you're really interested in learning about the Maffetone Method and want to give it chance to work for you, spend a couple bucks and buy the book.

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

2014 Goals:

Stay healthy

Enjoy life

I am very intrigued by trying MAF training as I think my body would adapt well to it, but the more I read about it and get into the training it seems like most everyone who sticks to it for more than a few months is working on their PhD in MAF training with all kinds of formulas, tests and re-tests, graphs, weighing and re-weighing food and hydration, etc. Can I progress just doing the basics and  easy, long term use of this training without feeling like I am spending every free minute analyzing the training and methods?

yea, I don't weigh food or anything lol. no graphs and no explicit tests. I just have some reliable flat routes where I can easily measure my pace.. that can pass for a test without me feeling like I'm being tested and get stressed out over that. I went like this when doing the MAF program before in the past.

@ elasee:

As an experiment I once did a 90 min long run with my mouth closed the entire time, nose breathing only. My average heart rate for the run was 2 beats below MAF. Nose breathing is the easiest way to control your pace for aerobic base building or recovery runs without getting all caught up in the technicalities. .

that's a useless test for me, I can do nose breathing easily up to 190-194bpm HR. now either 190bpm is still fully aerobic under MAF or I can just breathe very well through my nose. I believe the latter is a lot more likely lol. I mean, 190bpm is still steady state but surely it's over aerobic threshold. not that I do anything special with my breathing...no idea why it works with closed mouth so well :shrug:

@ Dakota RR:

Yeah, but...isn't MAF base training NOTHING BUT easy runs? Someone please explain that to me.

yeah. but an interesting note. I'm finding Hadd's method of slowly adding some higher HR zones on top of lowest HR zone works better for me maybe this is individual. but it truly seems to work better.

@ Furthur:

This is just not true. And as far as MAF HR being a made up number, all you have to do is go look at the results of people running Jimmyb's treadmill test to know there's SOMETHING there at least for most people (at MAF HR).

And yes, as far as I read Maffetone's method, the base-building phase is all low HR running. Above MAF HR running is saved until the very last, and, according to him, often not needed at all, especially by those of us who are not "elite" athletes.

that treadmill test isn't quite the same as a real RQ test and it wasn't validated in a scientific way yet. I wouldn't mind seeing more investigation into that testing method though to see how well it actually works. I myself still haven't done it I don't want to do it alone (as that would result in higher chance of introducing artefacts into the results.. my HR at lower levels is just this sensitive..) and my training partner got really busy so can't ask him. I'll ask a family member to help with the test one of these days as I'm still pretty curious...

a note/correction: maffetone doesn't say only elite athletes need the above MAF HR running periods. "competitive running" is mentioned instead and that I suppose means anyone who's trying to get better than middle of the pack running. doesn't have to be elite. please don't spread mis-information about how it all has to be very slow easy running for everyone except for the very top/elites. I've already seen too many posts based on this misconcept. it's very misleading for someone who's just getting acquainted with the maffetone method.

@ jEfFgObLuE:

MAF training is a crutch for people who tend to run too fast on their easy runs.  That's not necessarily a bad thing -- running too fast too often is a common mistake, especially for beginning runners.  But the physiology is dubious at best, and the formula (180-age) is simply a non-scientific way of coming up with a target heart rate number that will result in a sufficiently easy pace for most people.   And no big surprise, you start accumulating more and more miles at an easy pace, and your aerobic fitness will improve such that your easy pace gets faster.

I begrudge no one for doing MAF training, but it really doesn't need to be too complicated.    Once you get used to training and learn how to listen to your body, there's no need for training wheels. Well, usually.  Some chronic overtrainers would be well served using a HRM on easy days just to keep things under control.

what is dubious about the physiology? can you go into detail about that?

I agree the formula isn't scientiifc nor is it reliable enough. there is also no data on how the standard deviation works out, that also doesn't help with reliability, unfortunately.

btw there's some people who get a too high HR with the formula, it's no easy pace for them. I know someone who's 35 years old, been progressing very well over the last two years, consistent training, MAF would thus be 150, but even 145 is too high for her to be easy... her max is maybe 170bpm... I'm not going to give examples where the formula gives a HR that's too low because anyone can nitpick on that

@ jimmyb:

It's not all easy runs.  Think of MAF as the point or effort where your type 2 fibers begin to engage. Below that, you're pretty much using all slow-twitch fat-burning fibers. If you were to take an RQ (gas) test, that is run like a stress or V02max test,  and graph your HR along with the amount of fat and sugar you are burning, you will see a plateau and a deflection point in both the fat/sugar ratio and HR. Then you see a steep rise in the amount of sugar being used for energy and HR. Maffetone did enough of these tests that he saw it coincided with 180-age, though if you were in really good aerobic shape it could +5 beats. People who were overtrained and were aerobically deficient, would have lower deflection points.

what he never stated was what the standard deviation is for the formula. I'm not going to believe that there's none  (nevermind the 5 beats now, let's just take people who aren't supposed to need the 5/10 bpm adjustments)

btw this is interesting about the type 2 fibers. maybe you wrote about this before and I just forgot. anyway if you mean this means it's not supposed to be a "very easy" running intensity then by all means write about this aspect more. thanks

@ jimmyb:

what he never stated was what the standard deviation is for the formula. I'm not going to believe that there's none  (nevermind the 5 beats now, let's just take people who aren't supposed to need the 5/10 bpm adjustments)

btw this is interesting about the type 2 fibers. maybe you wrote about this before and I just forgot. anyway if you mean this means it's not supposed to be a "very easy" running intensity then by all means write about this aspect more. thanks

Hi, C!

Maffetone has either written or talked about how in an RQ test that there is point where the use of sugar suddenly accelerates, which makes the deflection point on the graph at MAF.. This is when the anaerobic system begin to kick in, as the type 2 fast-twitch fibers use predominantly sugar for fuel. There are three types of type 2 fast-twitch fibers (2a, 2x, and 2b). Type 2a is like an intermediate fiber can use both fat and sugar, and be trained to use more fat, or be more aerobic. The other type 2's use sugar. In an RQ test, you move from 100% fat/0% sugar to 0% fat/100% sugar. When your 100% sugar, you're fully anaerobic, though the anaerobic threshold might still have a few % points of fat still be using used. When you're going that hard, and burning 100% sugar, you are in fast-twitch land. When you are burning 100% fat, you are in slow-twitch land. The harder you go with the slow-twitchers, the more sugar they use, but they will never be using 100% sugar. At my MAF in my RQ test, I was burning 63% fat and 27% sugar. I'm not sure exactly sure what the limit would be for the slow-twitch fibers in terms of sugar burning, but I imagine it's not much more than this.  When the level of effort gets hard enough, the type 2a fibers kick in, and that's when you see a steep rise in sugar use. Because these fibers have anaerobic properties (in addition to aerobic), Dr. Maffetone defined anything over MAF as anaerobic, and anything below it aerobic. He surely doesn't mean you're fully anaerobic just over your MAF effort. That doesn't happen until you pass your AT and are burning 100% sugar.

Dr. Maffetone has written that some people get very fast at their MAF's. Take Mark Allen as an example. He started MAF training as a highly trained athlete who was use to running in the neighborhood of 5:00-5:30 per mile in training. Technically, according to usual standards, he was fit coming into the training. But when he popped on the heart rate monitor and ran at MAF, he could only run 8:15 and slower per mile, often walking hills and at the end of his runs. That means when he was training in the low 5:00's, before he took up MAF, his heart rate had to be pretty high, and was burning a huge amount of sugar. After a year of mostly MAF training, he was able to run 5:20 per mile at his MAF, and was burning a huge amount of fat. He couldn't achieve this 5:20 pace before when he was training so anaerobically all the time. Even though he was elite and was finishing high on the leaderboard, his training never made him the aerobic machine he became from MAF training. Training at MAF made a huge difference for him. He could run faster than his triathlon race pace and his heart rate was at MAF. Maffetone has told that some of his athletes got so fast at MAF, that it became uncomfortable to hold that speed for long periods of time day after day in training. They would then work out at lower HR's and do things like aerobic intervals.

So, sometimes it's easy running, and sometimes it's not so easy in terms of how fast your legs are moving. Depends how developed your slow twitchers are. Sure, Allen's heart rate was the same at 5:20 as it was a year earlier at 8:15, but he was flying--he was covering some major ground very quickly. It's hard when you start out, or are starting over again, as it's really slow. But the perseverance always pays off.

On the low MHR and MAF, there's a thread on Dr. Phil's website that addresses this question:

http://www.philmaffetone.com/forum.cfm?forum_action=showposts&topicid=85911

Interesting, there's a Cmon there, too.

Where a person's MAF is doesn't mean running at it will be easy (as I said in the reply above). To be sure, an RQ test, or using the treadmill test (that's proving to be accurate in the 8 tests who have reported in) might be a good way to get it right. Especially if your 65+ as Dr, Phil has said that the formula doesn't match so well for people that age. Your friend could always go easier than her MAF, and still get good results.

On the low MHR and MAF, there's a thread on Dr. Phil's website that addresses this question:

http://www.philmaffetone.com/forum.cfm?forum_action=showposts&topicid=85911

Interesting, there's a Cmon there, too.

Where a person's MAF is doesn't mean running at it will be easy (as I said in the reply above). To be sure, an RQ test, or using the treadmill test (that's proving to be accurate in the 8 tests who have reported in) might be a good way to get it right. Especially if your 65+ as Dr, Phil has said that the formula doesn't match so well for people that age. Your friend could always go easier than her MAF, and still get good results.

well no, that thread did not answer this question specifically as I was asking a different question there. yes the cmon2 there is me, btw.

also...I did find the replies in the thread interesting (e.g. it does make sense how MHR, LT, AeT are not lined up the same way for everyone) but I did have an issue with the following statement: "But your friend's max aerobic HR would be just right if you use the 180-Formula. Not under- or over-conservative. At least until you relate it to individualized measurements like I discuss in the newer 180-Formula article in FITNESS, or a gas analyzer test."

how can it be claimed that it would be just right at least until checking with more accurate tests? what should have been said is, admit honestly that it's uncertain to a degree. (see, I'm still missing standard deviation data.) sigh. I do like how he later posted somewhere else on his site that the 180 formula is indeed just some guess. it says there that he himself doesn't use it with his clients/patients...

btw, the RQ test I'm holding off for now because it's expensive and don't like to waste money on a possibly screwed up effort. as I see it, lab environment is not the same as environment outside. if I had a chance to try maybe several times then it could be done right but on the first try I doubt it would be any good.

even the LT test I had done, I'm not 100% trusting. it was at least a lot cheaper than the version with the gas analyser (RQ test)  I'm not trusting it 100% because I did not like how my breathing was not in line with my HR after a while, it was no longer lined up like outside. (the pace and HR also weren't lined up in the same way as outside but maybe that was up to treadmill calibration.)

Hi, C!

Maffetone has either written or talked about how in an RQ test that there is point where the use of sugar suddenly accelerates, which makes the deflection point on the graph at MAF.. This is when the anaerobic system begin to kick in, as the type 2 fast-twitch fibers use predominantly sugar for fuel. There are three types of type 2 fast-twitch fibers (2a, 2x, and 2b). Type 2a is like an intermediate fiber can use both fat and sugar, and be trained to use more fat, or be more aerobic. The other type 2's use sugar. In an RQ test, you move from 100% fat/0% sugar to 0% fat/100% sugar. When your 100% sugar, you're fully anaerobic, though the anaerobic threshold might still have a few % points of fat still be using used. When you're going that hard, and burning 100% sugar, you are in fast-twitch land. When you are burning 100% fat, you are in slow-twitch land. The harder you go with the slow-twitchers, the more sugar they use, but they will never be using 100% sugar. At my MAF in my RQ test, I was burning 63% fat and 27% sugar. I'm not sure exactly sure what the limit would be for the slow-twitch fibers in terms of sugar burning, but I imagine it's not much more than this.  When the level of effort gets hard enough, the type 2a fibers kick in, and that's when you see a steep rise in sugar use. Because these fibers have anaerobic properties (in addition to aerobic), Dr. Maffetone defined anything over MAF as anaerobic, and anything below it aerobic. He surely doesn't mean you're fully anaerobic just over your MAF effort. That doesn't happen until you pass your AT and are burning 100% sugar.

Dr. Maffetone has written that some people get very fast at their MAF's. Take Mark Allen as an example. He started MAF training as a highly trained athlete who was use to running in the neighborhood of 5:00-5:30 per mile in training. Technically, according to usual standards, he was fit coming into the training. But when he popped on the heart rate monitor and ran at MAF, he could only run 8:15 and slower per mile, often walking hills and at the end of his runs. That means when he was training in the low 5:00's, before he took up MAF, his heart rate had to be pretty high, and was burning a huge amount of sugar. After a year of mostly MAF training, he was able to run 5:20 per mile at his MAF, and was burning a huge amount of fat. He couldn't achieve this 5:20 pace before when he was training so anaerobically all the time. Even though he was elite and was finishing high on the leaderboard, his training never made him the aerobic machine he became from MAF training. Training at MAF made a huge difference for him. He could run faster than his triathlon race pace and his heart rate was at MAF. Maffetone has told that some of his athletes got so fast at MAF, that it became uncomfortable to hold that speed for long periods of time day after day in training. They would then work out at lower HR's and do things like aerobic intervals.

So, sometimes it's easy running, and sometimes it's not so easy in terms of how fast your legs are moving. Depends how developed your slow twitchers are. Sure, Allen's heart rate was the same at 5:20 as it was a year earlier at 8:15, but he was flying--he was covering some major ground very quickly. It's hard when you start out, or are starting over again, as it's really slow. But the perseverance always pays off.

thanks, the part on the fibers/fuels and easy/hard was interesting

otoh, I'll be honest here and say that I'm pretty bored with the mark allen example. why just this one example about some real pro sport guy, why not 10 other examples as well and why not have them about more ordinary people? e.g. I remember seeing this case study mentioned on this forum here about some woman doing MAF training for years, starting with walking, getting to racing after some years. that was a lot more realistic and closer to real people than the mark allen example. his example, I'm seriously thinking, isn't it possible he was out of shape when he got the 8:15 MAF test done? I would love to see all his MAF tests for that year where he went from 8:15 to 5:20. that would show a lot more of what really happened there. I could imagine him getting back in shape, healing from overtraining maybe, whatnot, and then getting back to his former shape then getting some aerobic improvements on top of that. this latter amount would be the actual improvement here.

to sum up, I hate seeing irrealistic and rare examples. it seems to get some people's hopes up and makes them impatient with the LHR training methods (specifically maffetone here). if more realistic case studies were referred to instead of mark allen, it would be a lot better and it would make people understand how improvement actually works in reality. it's not some magic, it's the result of the right training load and consistency over time and whatnot, you get my drift.

end of rant hope it makes some sense though

Dr. Maffetone defined anything over MAF as anaerobic, and anything below it aerobic. He surely doesn't mean you're fully anaerobic just over your MAF effort. That doesn't happen until you pass your AT and are burning 100% sugar.

Personally, I think it would have been better to have used some other term for above MAF effort - using the term anaerobic leads to a fair amount of confusion for people looking at MAF. Maybe diminished aerobic, or something in that vein.

I think there a big difference between, say a Marathon Pace run, which is below LT, and 200m reps at 800m pace.

Chasing the bus

To clarify, my point about the treadmill test was just that it shows a real, repeatable, physiological effect. There IS something happening there. It shows up on the real world, therefor, it is neither made up nor arbitrary.

“You're either on the bus or off the bus.”
Tom Wolfe, The Electric Kool-Aid Acid Test

To clarify, my point about the treadmill test was just that it shows a real, repeatable, physiological effect. There IS something happening there. It shows up on the real world, therefor, it is neither made up nor arbitrary.

"something" isn't a lot to say

a good experiment would be, do the test on 100 people, then do the RQ / lactate tests too and see how it matches up.

optionally have them train accordingly to the test, then compare results to control group

and so on

12