MAF Training – How it’s going

So as I have mentioned previously, my coach trains using the MAF method.  The MAF method uses heart rate to guide effort during training.  All of my workouts (minus swim and strength training) have specific instructions for heart rate.  You can find more information about the method in general here.

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.

The general theory is that at your MAF heart rate, you should feel like you can run/bike/swim for an extended period of time without tiring.  To find this, you take 180 and subtract your age (it slightly more involved, but that’s the gist).  So, for me, my MAF is 180 – 27 = 153.  My coach rounded this up to a lovely 155.  Many people become frustrated with this method since it involves slowing down your pace when first beginning.  I can tell you from experience that it *is* frustrating at the beginning, but that it has been completely worth it.

One of the methods that this method uses to gauge progress is the MAF test.  This run is done on a track preferably or on a treadmill.  For the test, my coach has me warm up for a mile while increasing my heart rate slightly each lap.  Next, you run 4 miles at your MAF heart rate.  As you would expect, each mile is slower than the previous.  My coach has me redoing this test approximately once a month in order to gauge progress.  While I knew and could feel that I was improving over this last month of training, I had no idea how much I was improving.  The answer?  A lot!

My first MAF test was on the 17th of July and I realized that I had a long way to go before being in 70.3 shape.

Mile 1 – 13:44

Mile 2 – 14:16

Mile 3 – 14:39

My coach had me run this test again last week (on the 7th) and the results made my jaw hit the floor.  Seriously.

Mile 1 – 11:40

Mile 2 – 12:18

Mile 3 – 13:26

Mile 4 – 13:55

My slowest mile during the second test was only ten seconds slower than my fastest mile of the previous test.  Consider me a believer!  Now yes, I realize that improvements would come from training regardless.  But what makes me really love this program is that because it is based off of heart rate, I have never felt run down like I have in past training programs.  I am the poster child for doing too much, too soon and burning out.  This training combats that for me and keeps me at a healthy level of training and improvement.  Finally finding a training method that is sustainable for me is worth its weight in gold!

Dripping with sweat after a 5+ mile run in 80* and 95% humidity this past weekend at the Lake House. Still happy and smiling though! Two thumbs up for the MAF method!

 Happy Monday!


MAF Training – How it’s going — 13 Comments

  1. The other nice things I’m finding about MAF training are reduced injuries and being able to take in hydration and fuel since your HR is low enough your stomach hasn’t shut down.

  2. So this is, I’m sure, a dumb question, but does this method require you have a heart rate monitor so that you can watch it as you run and adjust accordingly?

    • Yes, it does. I have the one that is attached to my Garmin 220, but I know there are ones that you can get that are at a lower price point. There are also ones that you can get that will hook to apps on your phone so you don’t even have to invest in a watch.

  3. Great progress! And I definitely agree with what Mike said – I never thought that I’d get through IM training injury-free, and while I did have a hiccup for a few weeks, my body stayed really strong and I was able to bounce back pretty quickly.
    I also found heart rate training great for the bike, but for different reasons that running. Basically, I am LAZY on the bike, and using HR, I knew when I wasn’t pushing myself very hard.

    • My coach uses MAF, so I am still using it as a training method. When I’m training consistently, it still gives me the best results with the lowest injury rate. I highly recommend!

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