My MAF Training Fail, and my Run Home PGH Training starts Today

Back around Christmas, I decided I was going to try MAF training to help me improve my overall fitness before beginning training for the Cherry Blossom 10 miler and the Pittsburgh Half Marathon.

At the same time, you might remember, I started classes at Unite Fitness. I immediately fell in love with how hard my body was working, and now I’m impressed at how quickly I’m seeing results in my overall capacity to work.

What’s MAF Training?
Basically, it’s aerobic base building that forces you to run more controlled (often starting much slower) because you’re trying to stay under your maximum heart rate. The key to it is the specialized formula that uses 180 as a true max, and then based on your age, and a few other factors you find your max heart rate. Mine was 142.

The real key to it, though, is that you aren’t supposed to do any workouts, not just runs, that takes you above that heart rate. This is important to remember.

My Experience
What I learned is that I have some serious work to do, because I could barely maintain a very slow jog without topping out my heart rate. After 4-5 “runs” like this, I stopped wanting to run. I wasn’t running, I was speed walking, and it wasn’t making me feel like I could make progress, it made me feel like a failure.

I had also been going to Unite regularly, and was hitting way above my max heart rate of 142. After a couple of weeks of this, I reread some other bloggers experiences (Holly, Katie, Amanda, Jill) and realized I was killing my own attempt at MAF training with my Unite workouts.

So last week I decided with 13 weeks until the Pittsburgh half, I’d rather work on getting stronger & faster with Unite, and save MAF for summer, when I’ll be much happier to be moving more slowly, and work on rebuilding my base as part of training for my fall marathon.

A question
Is anyone familiar with another way of building cardio capacity? I’d be interested to read up on other options. I’d also love to find a way to be building it during this training cycle.

Training to Run Home PGH
If everything went right, I got up and did my first miles using Runner’s World Smart Coach Plus. I’m excited to have a training plan that gives me paces for each run, and mixes in intervals, tempo runs, and will force me truly do easy runs. I have a tendency to run easy runs as fast as I can. I don’t know why. They’re short, why shouldn’t I run them fast? Because that’s not the point of them. I know that, and I will imagine Bart Yasso yelling at me for running them too fast if I do it often.

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Has anyone else tried MAF training? What was your experience?

Would you use this method to do your base building?

Have you ever used Runner’s World training plans?

Interested in SmartCoach? You can save 55% on a plan now. Just use code SAVE55 when you purchase one!

3 thoughts on “My MAF Training Fail, and my Run Home PGH Training starts Today

  1. I did not do MAF training specifically. But I had great success with HR training previously. I decided to get back with it again near the end of 2013. I tried all the online calculators and came up with what I thought was my Max and Lactate Threshold. But I found like you did that I was hitting max and not even moving. So I completed a VO2 LT test at the Sport Factory here in Atlanta. It was easy enough and gave me the information I was hoping for and some I didn’t expect. (good news)
    It seems that my months of training at long low intervals without speed work or tempo runs my training left me in a Zone 1 “no man’s land\=”. My zone 1 stretches from 113 to 145. Goodness!
    Zone 2 146 to 155 (Aerobic)
    Zone 3 156 to 164. (Tempo)
    My LT is 171 Max HR at 181. (my online calks were way off — 170)

    So now armed with this information I have started with adding the Aerobic and Tempo activities to get my self moving again and feel comfortable in the zone 2 and 3 in my races. Also added High Intensity Interval Training (35 minute class with 30 seconds on and 10 seconds rest of stations such as kettle bell swings, rope slams ext) It\’s good that I have lots of room with that wide range at zone 1.
    I had also managed to add 10 lbs over a six or eight month period. The reason I could not shed any of the 10 lbs that creeped on was I was just training at the wrong HR. Need to get to fat burn!!!
    Let me tell you it is difficult to get to that tempo pace!!! Time to move my butt!!

    Also I have changed my nutrition using the Racing Weight – Nutrition for Endurance Athletes plan. by Matt Fitzgerald. http://racingweight.com

    I am well into the tempo and HIIT workouts for a month and last saturday I ran the fastest 5k that I have run in 2 years. I was in a comfortable zone three and my splits were like clockwork…8:53, 8:53 and 8:54. Looking forward to continuing on this path.

  2. I’ve never done something like that but it sounds really interesting. I always wonder about my heart rate, especially when running, but I’m too lazy to use the HRM on my Garmin. When I’m on the treadmill at the gym I occasionally check in to make sure it’s not going insane (like when I’m at 15% incline and it’s at 167 – yikes!).

  3. I always love the idea of training plans but then when I get to the gym my mind and body always comes up with something different! Any suggestions on how to stick to one? lol

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