After completing my first two full marathons just three months apart, I have decided (with the pleading from my husband and children) to set aside my distance running goals for a few months. I will continue to race each month, focusing more on the fun factor and why I love running. However, my running journey has taken an interesting turn. I will be running and training through heart rate training, using the MAF training program.
Let me back track a bit for you. While training for the LA Marathon, I felt that my longer runs were really a struggle: both physically and mentally. I would cover the distance and prescribed pace… but it was harder than it should have been. It was a combination of nutrition, hydration and a bit of overtraining. I was tired and worn out. I needed to recover and really get to the bottom of what was going on.
When I shared my interest in starting heart rate training for running, I was given many helpful articles and words of encouragement from the running community. Many Polar Ambassadors stepped up with their advice as well as fellow FitFluential Ambassador MissZippy1. In fact, Amanda introduced me to the MAF method and shared her successful experience running and training using MAF.
What is MAF Training (also referred to as the Maffetone Method)?
MAF training is essentially training aerobically (and avoiding anaerobic training) based on your individual maximum aerobic training heart rate with a goal of building a strong aerobic base. The focus is on heart rate instead of pace.
According to Dr. Philip Maffetone, author and endurance training expert, building a good aerobic base takes about three months and requires consistent use of a heart rate monitor to accurately monitor and properly interpret your unique physiological response to exercise.
I love the quote shared in the above image, “… the only way to make long-lasting changes with one’s health and fitness is to think in terms of the individual. Meaning YOU!” Health isn’t a one stop, one-size-fits-all, shop. God created our bodies to be uniquely YOU… and in order to achieve long-lasting changes in your (MY) health and fitness goals I need to individualize my goals and training.
There is a bunch of information on the web about heart rate training and MAF training. I am not an expert in this field, by any means, and am still doing my research. Below are three most used resources to find information to the questions you might have regarding heart rate training and MAF.
My Goals and Starting point
My goal: Commit 16 weeks of heart rate training for every run, with MAF tests every 4 weeks.
There are several methods and at least one other formula for determining heart rates and training zones. I used the 180 Formula and Heart Rate Monitoring developed by Dr. Maffetone to calculate my Maximum Aerobic Training Heart Rate. This formula allows for adjustments based on the individual.
Resting Heart Rate: 47
Maximum Aerobic Training Heart Rate: 152
Training Heart Rate Ranges: 142-152 Target Training
To find your maximum aerobic training heart rate, there are two important steps. First, subtract your age from 180. Next, find the best category for your present state of fitness and health, and make the appropriate adjustments:
1. Subtract your age from 180.
2. Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile:
a. If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.
b. If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
c. If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same.
d. If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.
For example, if you are thirty years old and fit into category (b), you get the following:
180–30=150. Then 150–5=145 beats per minute (bpm).
I have done a few training runs while using my polar FT40 heart rate monitor. It is not GPS enabled so I use my iPhone GPS apps to track speed while running (rather power walking) outside or the treadmill’s speed min/mile guide.
I have not officially taken the MAF Test yet… but plan on doing it this weekend. I have used it on two of my runs the past week and found that in order to reach my goal heart rate zone (142-152) I am not able to run… but rather I power walk at a 13-14 minute mile pace. Honestly, this frustrates and concerns me… but I know that trusting the program and following it, I should be successful.
The methodology is that you train by running slower to run faster. It does seem backwards… but if it works… I am all for trying it!
As always, I will keep you updated on my progress and experience. I am hopeful and positive that this will be just the thing I need to help me run faster and run further while staying healthy and injury free so I can run for many more years!
Do you train with a heart rate monitor?
When running do you gauge your effort by feel or heart rate?
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