Heart Rate Training

Sunday 6th December 2015

After several years of running with my running buddy, today it became very clear what affect injury, zero to low mileage running and weight loss has on performance.

6 months ago I was at a peak running wise. My ability to run at a zone 2 pace was amplified by the fact that I was building a sound aerobic base whereby my HR remained relatively low as my exertion increased. However, compared with my running buddy who is two years my junior, his HR was 12 to 15 bpm higher than mine for the duration of those runs.

Fast forward to today where due to injury I have been sidelined for 5 months and have just started getting back into it again, today’s 12km run at a slow 6:50 min/km pace had my HR 12 to 15 beats bpm higher than his. Over the past 5 months he has been running consistently, has shed 5 kilos and his achilles injury has improved and much more manageable. In that time he has run 4 marathons close to PR time.

The difference – relatively injury free, weight loss, consistent low HR training plus Cross Training. Building an aerobic base with these ingredients is a recipe for success.

Both of us are amazed at what a great indicator of aerobic performance our HR is. To be able to maintain a marathon pace whilst keeping the HR relatively low, will ensure that the 42.2 km’s will be much more pleasurable.

Training 80% of the time at a low (zone 2) HR is the key to success. We have proven that. If only we took heed of this 7 years ago when we started running.

So please take note, train using your HR as a measure and guide will guarantee your success.



MAF or 80/20 Training

Week Ending 28th June 2015

The past few weeks have been a bit of a struggle running wise. After getting a virus that put me out of running action for 4 days, I found that I also lost my motivation to maintain the 7 day a week running schedule.  The zest that dragged me out of bed at 5.30am every morning vanished. So now I’m down to 4 days a week, thus missing the cross training/ recovery training session.

I don’t think it really matters that much as I really do need a break almost every other day otherwise I’ll lose the plot altogether.

The 80/20 program is challenging when you have to train in the moderate to high intensity zones. I don’t know whether it’s because I’m getting old, or that it’s just too damn cold in the morning to work out, but anything other than a zone 2 or less run, is trying.

Today Sunday 28/06/15 I did a 25km long run with speed play 4 which has the normal warm up and cool down and 14 x 400m zone 3 followed by 1200m zone 2 repeats. The zone 3 interval was tough going. I revised my max. HR down to 171bpm and my lactate threshold HR to 163bpm from 168bpm so that zone 3 was easier to get to. I think I was claiming a max HR that didn’t represent where I am at. The 171bpm was from my 30 minute TT so I’m comfortable with that for now.

I’m finding the low intensity runs suit me well but the moderate to high intensity runs are becoming harder. I don’t know why other than I’ve been training slower then I have ever run so may be that’s why or it’s that I’m getting older. I’m thinking that MAF training is maybe the way I should be training. It certainly is easy on the body and the lungs and heart – more so than the 80% of low intensity.

I’ll wait to see how I go in the M7 marathon in 4 weeks but I’m really thinking to go back to running very slow to fit in with my MAF HR and keep building that aerobic base.


So the jury is still out on MAF or 80/20 but the older I get the more drawn I am to MAF. However once I go back to that, it will be very slow running and walking for I reckon 6 to 12 months to build that base.

Time will tell.


80/20 Running – Month 2

Week Ending 7th June 2015

I’m now well and truly into 80/20 running. According to my training schedule I’ve just completed week 11 which is in my peak phase of training. I started training back in week 9 so that I could synchronise my next marathon on the 26th of July 2015 with this training program. So far it’s going well. For the past two weeks I have been running 7 days a week but because 80% of the runs are at low intensity, there hasn’t been any impact on my body.

Today’s run was long run 6 which had me running 32km in zone 2 with a warmup and cool down in zone 1. The lower body struggled at around 20km and then around 27km but I continued on and completed the run in 3:15 at an average pace of 6:06 min/km.

I’ve also put in quite a few km’s these past two weeks, 70km’s plus which I think is my highest ever without any physical downside. So that’s a positive take.

It will be interesting to see what affect this program has on my marathon result in July.

MAF and 80/20 Training – Roundup

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.


80/20 Running – Month 1

May 2015

I bought Matt Fitzgerald’s book called 80/20 Running and have commenced reading it.

Why, when I’ve been training at MAF for three and a half months?

The answer to that is that I’m finding it frustrating to run/walk so slow at MAF. Yes, I absolutely need to build my aerobic base but I don’t know how long it will take using MAF. I don’t want to jeopardise my race performance to the degree I’d need to if I continue at MAF. Using 80/20 is close to MAF but with speed work, allowing me to continue building my base without comprising my race speed and getting injured.

I’ve been training the 80/20 way now for one month and am feeling good about it. As an example, this morning’s run was a recovery run 6 – running in zone 1 for 45 minutes after yesterday’s cruise interval 1. I can’t remember the last time I really enjoyed a run, but today was certainly one. I felt really relaxed and enjoyed the zone 1 running experience. I even ran at my MAF HR several times.

So far 80/20 running is working for me. I’m running at least 5 times per week without any feelings of fatigue or injury concerns – can’t complain about that.