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.


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.


MAF Training – Week 17

Week Ending 05/04/15

Still recovering from the flu and so, no midweek runs.

I got to Friday and finally was able to get on the road to run the 30km I’ve been wanting to do now for two weeks. As it wasn’t a MAF run I won’t post any more in this blog, except to say that I didn’t last the distance managing only 17km’s. I’m now in lock down for the 50km race so I won’t be doing anymore MAF training until after the event.

I’ll post my race report in this blog as well, as it will be interesting to see whether the MAF training has helped me in this race.

MAF Training – Week 16

Week Ending 29/03/15

What a week. Just when I’m getting close to my first 50km race, the dreaded flu strikes me down.
The week started off badly. I was stricken with the flu that kept me in bed on the Monday. The rest of the week was a real struggle. Couldn’t function normally, couldn’t run, didn’t have any energy etc, etc. My planned 30km run on Sunday that had to be run was ditched in favour of staying at home to rest and recover.

No training of any sort this week.

Let’s hope next week is better.

MAF Training – Week 15

Week Ending 22/03/15

Another challenging week running wise although I managed to make my MAF treadmill runs an hour or so, including a 10-20 minute warm up.
I mentioned last week that my HR monitor wasn’t working. I figured out that it was my Garmin transmitter – I had changed the batteries but it still did not register with my Garmin XT310.
Fortunately a friend of mine loaned me her Garmin HR monitor which I’ve been using without problem.

The MAF runs on Thursday and Friday were ok as far as MAF runs go, but the pace is even slower on the treadmill. Or maybe, I’m getting slower and going backwards MAF wise.

My progress was tested on Saturday it being MAF Test number 4. On Friday night after getting home, I noticed that I was feeling flu like symptoms in my throat. I couldn’t understand that as I hadn’t been thrashing myself running wise, and was feeling fine right up until Friday night. Sure a few people had been sick at work but I hadn’t been exposed to them, other than through the air conditioning. It was annoying as I had already made an appointment with my doctor on the Saturday to get a flu injection so as to avoid this situation especially as it was so close to the ultra marathon. Strangely enough, I always get worried about this time of the year before the Canberra marathon with getting a cold, so always try to get a flu shot in March and stay away from sick people. But it’s just not to be.
Sadly to say, I woke up Saturday morning with a rough feeling in my throat but I was committed to the MAF test so headed out about 7:30am to run the 8km’s after my 20 minute walking warm up.

Boy am I having a rough time MAF wise. It didn’t take long for my HR to hit 128bpm (probably about 300m). It was downhill from there. The first km took 7:34, then 7:52, 7:45, 7:42, 7:36, 7:38, 7:26 and 7:26. The pace was in reverse of what should have happened. I can only think that the onset of the flu was affecting my HR as compared to previous weeks while running in the park my pace at the same HR was significantly better. And of course, I had to walk to keep the HR down as it peaked at 135bpm. It was such a frustrating run and very discouraging. Of the 4 MAF tests that I’ve done, this one was my second worst, pace wise. My very first test was worse. Am I going backwards, well it seems that way. Which means I’m doing something wrong. Or is it the onset of the flu and maybe the pressure I’m placing myself under at work (unnecessarily I might add). Of course I’ll soldier on.

The HR is affected by so many environmental factors it seems, confirming what Phil Maffetone has stated. But how can you train at MAF without being affected by environmental factors and have a life as well? It seems to be about how well you handle stress in your life, regardless of its source. Clearly there seems to be a correlation between stress and HR.
I have found that doing my MAF run midweek week tends to result in a faster average pace. But doing a MAF run or test on a Saturday morning produces a poorer result. I’m starting to think that after a week at work, when you’re generally worn down, a MAF run reinforces that you are in fact, worn down. Maybe I should look to doing a MAF test on a different day?
Probably not now, as one thing that the MAF test needs to be is consistent from test to test. That is, same track, roughly same time of day, same day and same distance.

My ultra is in 3 weeks so Sunday’s run was not going to be a MAF run. I needed to run 30km’s at a steady but slow pace, somewhere between 6:30-7:00 min/km pace, as I haven’t done any training or race preparation for my first ultra other than the MAF training. I sort of thought that building my aerobic base over the last 3 months would have put me in a good position to run the ultra – I think I may have made a mistake in assuming that! I also wanted to track my HR over this distance at that pace so I could see how far above MAF it was. After all, the theory is that I should be able to run at my MAF HR for ages. So my thinking for the ultra was to run at MAF plus 10 bpm for 30km’s or so then forget about HR.
But it wasn’t to be. I woke at 5am and my throat was not happy. I had not recovered and even though I could have pushed myself to run, and figured that I’d be better off allowing the body to fight the flu now, rather than running and wearing my self down even further, which would take longer to repair and so much closer to race day.

So I decided to miss the run and give the body time to fight the flu – short term pain for longer term gain, I hope.

Next Sunday, I’ll run the 30km regardless. Frankly, I’ve run out of time to prepare for the ultra. I’m just hoping that the MAF training that I’ve done so far, has improved my aerobic base and efficiency, even if just a little.

The proof is in the pudding, as they say.