Saturday 23rd of May 2015
After a break of about one and a half months of pure MAF training I ran my 5th MAF test to see how my aerobic performance was going.
So what’s lead up to today’s test, training wise?
I ceased MAF training at the end of March 2015 as I had a 50km ultra scheduled on April 12. At that point in my MAF training, my progress was incredibly slow. So much so, that I struggled to run at my normal marathon pace. It seemed that I had started to build that aerobic base but nowhere near where it would need to be to undertake a marathon let alone an ultra marathon. And 3 weeks was no where long enough to build some speed into my running. In fact, the runs I did do in that period were a struggle – I simply was not used to running anything faster than 6:40 min/km. You can read my full race report of my ultra here. Following the disappointing result of the ultra, I decided to review my commitment to MAF training. Whilst I still firmly believe that training at MAF will build a solid aerobic base, the time it will take for me to achieve this would be significant and would mean that my races would be slow until I built the base.
It seems to me that MAF is initially suited to younger athletes as there MAF HR is significantly higher than mine allowing them to at least run at a more manageable pace. Although I’m sure that Dr Phil Maffetone would disagree with that assertion.
While running with my training buddy who hasn’t been training at MAF, I have found that my HR is significantly lower than his in comparison to his age – he is two years younger than I but his HR is at least 12 to 14 beats faster (it should be 2 beats faster) than mine while we run at 75% of max. HR. So it would seem that MAF has helped me in maintaining my HR lower than what it would have been otherwise. That’s why I still believe in the method. Having listened to several podcasts on the subject has further strengthened my view. So I have resolved to train at MAF during my “off-season” which is generally mid November to early February.
In the meantime I have come across a running program that is not that far removed from MAF. It’s called 80/20 Running written by Matt Fitzgerald an author, coach, nutritionist and runner. I’ve read his book which basically states that you should do 80% of your running at low intensity with the other 20% done in the moderate to high intensity range. It is founded on Arthur Lydiard’s training ideas from the 50’s and 60’s, further refined by Stephen Seiler, an American exercise physiologist based in Norway. Because of the low intensity running injuries are significantly reduced (just like MAF) if not put at bay and therefore running volume can be increased without the usual issues of injury, fatigue and long periods of recovery. To the extent that you can run 6 days or more a week.
I’m now 4 weeks into 80/20 running and like MAF, have been running 5 times per week without feeling fatigued or suffering injury.
So today I decided to do a MAF test to see the status of my aerobic base building knowing that I had stopped MAF training in March, had run a 50km ultra and had commenced training the 80/20 way.
The results shouldn’t have been a surprise, but they were. I had regressed in my base building as the pace was slower than some of my other MAF tests. I actually thought that with the 80/20 running over the past 3 to 4 weeks I would have run faster at MAF but that clearly is not the case. However on retrospect I shouldn’t feel discouraged because improvements will take a long time for me. I heard a remark made by Dr Phil Maffetone in a recent podcast where he said that no matter what type of training you do, perform a MAF test once a month to determine whether your training is improving your aerobic efficiency. And that’s exactly what I’m going to do.
So for now I’ll keep with the 80/20 running program and do a MAF test each month.
I’ll keep you all informed of my progress.