Dear Maffetone, it’s not you, it’s me.

As I alluded to in my last post, I am having a hard time with LHR training. To the point where I don’t want to run. And if I’m not running, I’m not improving. There’s no point.

I’m going back to running normally. For now.

Maybe I can revisit it in the future. It seems like it might be a good choice if I were actually planning to run a marathon. Or if I were coming back from injury. Or just had plateaued in my improvements from other training. But none of that is true. I got a 2 minute 5k PR the day before I started this nonsense. I’m definitely not plateauing. And why fix what isn’t broke?

I don’t want to dread running. I want it to be fun (or as fun as running gets). I don’t want to spend 5-6 hours a week doing hardly any mileage. I’m just miserable doing this.

My take-away from this experiment is to slow down my easy runs even more. Run/walk intervals are okay for them, but if I want to run them straight, I need to stick to around 12:30-13 min/mi pace. (I have a tendency to speed up to half marathon pace.) I’m also going to start monitoring my heart rate during more of my runs. I would love to see what I’m doing normally. I don’t even know what my max heart rate is.

Maffetone Method, I don’t doubt that you are useful…to some people. I am just not one of them right now. I know that I didn’t stick with it long enough to even attempt to see an improvement. I just don’t think there would be any if I was hating doing it so much.

The Struggle Is Real: LHR Training Kinda Sucks

I sort of fell off the LHR wagon on Tuesday. Not entirely, but my average heart rate for the run was *gasp* 151, which is three beats higher than it should be.

So, the irony is not lost on me, but before I started this training, it was kind of a struggle to get through my runs without walking. Now all I want to do is run without my heart rate forcing me to walk. And run at a normal pace. My watch will beep telling me my HR is too high and I’ll pout and begrudgingly start walking.

Except on Tuesday.

My watch would beep and I’d keep going. And I was running faster than I should be anyway. There were times my heart rate got up to…170! The horrors! I even hit paces of 13 min/mi!

Stop the madness!

I just can’t understand how this is ever going to help me run faster, especially when I’m walking half the time (or more!). I mean, I get it in theory. But I feel like it will take YEARS. I don’t want to run like this for years. I like speed work! I miss running with other people. And, honestly, I don’t care if my body burns carbs instead of fat. I love carbs.

maffetone method

Sorry, Maffetone.

I’m really, really trying to stay committed to doing this for at least a month (to see if there’s any improvements on my next MAF test), but it’s freakishly hard. It makes me feel…trapped.

Week of 8/4/14 – 8/10/14: LHR Training, Week 2

week of 8/4/14 to 8/10/14

Monday: Rest day
Tuesday: 70ish minute walk/run (146 bpm) and 10 Minute Fix for Abs from 21 Day Fix
Wednesday: An hour of canoeing
Thursday: 50 minute run (148 bpm)
Friday: 1.25 mile walk
Saturday: Rest day
Sunday: 90 minute run (148 bpm), Cardio Fix, and 50 minute walk/run (145 bpm)

I’m really glad that I got sub-30 5k already. It makes running so slow a little less discouraging. I think to myself, “Yeah, I might be running slower than I can walk right now, but I can run 9 minute miles if I want to!” Not that anyone around me while I’m jogging knows that. I feel like everyone is judging me. (They probably aren’t. But maybe they are.) I need to make a sign that says, “Low Heart Rate Training in Progress. I’m Not Really This Slow.”

Tuesday’s run was mostly a walk. I had taken some Sudafed earlier and it raised my heart rate, so I couldn’t run at all and maintain within my range. I could, however, walk and do this. So I walked mostly and jogged the downhills when my heart rate got too low. Sunday’s second run was mostly like this too, probably due to the fact that it was my third workout of the day (making up for not running on Saturday like I was supposed to).

Anyway, sorry if it’s quiet around here for a while. My runs aren’t all that interesting when they are this slow. I honestly don’t know if I’m going to be able to keep this up for 3 months. I hope I start to see some improvement soon.

Week of 7/28/14 – 8/3/14: LHR Training, Week 1

week of 7/28/14 to 8/3/14

Since I decided to start my low heart rate training early, I’m not going to be posting average paces for awhile (only those for races). I don’t look at my pace on these runs (it would depress me if I did), so you’ll just get average HR for a little while. 🙂

Monday: Dirty 30 from 21 Day Fix
Tuesday: 35 minutes on the treadmill (144 bpm), then 50 minutes outdoors (146 bpm)
Wednesday: Upper Fix from 21 Day Fix
Thursday: 80 minute run (147 bpm)
Friday: Rest day
Saturday: Smyrna Parks 5k (9:20 average pace)
Sunday: MAF Test #1 (146 bpm)

Low heart rate training is definitely going to be a test of patience and mental fortitude. While it’s nice to not be soaked with sweat and out of breath at the end of a run, it’s extremely tedious. And time consuming. Normally it would take me an hour or less to run five miles; with LHR training it’s more like an hour and a half.

I’m trying to move away from being so mileage-focused during this, but it’s hard! I’ll go out planning to run for half an hour, but after 30 minutes, I feel like I’ve barely been running. Thus all my runs tend to end up being over an hour long, just so I can feel like there was an actual point to them.

MAF Test #1: A New Definition of the Word ‘Jog’

I have mentioned a few times that I planned to start low heart rate training in the fall. I decided to start it a few weeks early, so I could get in a full 16 weeks of training.

So, the basics of Maffetone’s method is you calculate your maximum aerobic heart rate. That is the heart rate that you can run the fastest and still be in your aerobic zone. He has a formula for this, and based on it, my max should be 148. Your lower zone is 10 bpm less than that, so my runs should be done from 138-148 bpm.

From dabbling with this in the past, I know that I have to run slow to maintain this. Like 16-17 minute miles slow. Like the speed I casually walk.

The goal is that your will eventually train yourself to run faster within the same HR range. So while I may be stuck in super slow zone right now, by the end of 16 weeks or so, hopefully I can jog (albeit still slowly) without having to mix in any walking. This makes you faster overall.

No speedwork is allowed, so I won’t be doing any intervals or hills or tempo runs. The only faster-than-MAF-HR running I will be allowed are the races I’m signed up for already.

Every four weeks or so, I am to perform a MAF (Maximum Aerobic Fitness) test. You warm up for 15 minutes until the lower end of your zone. Then you run five miles maintaining staying in that zone. Because of cardiac drift (your heart rate will increase over time even when effort stays the same), the first mile should be the fastest and the last mile should be the slowest.

I initially decided that to keep conditions similar (so you can make sure you are comparing apples to apples), my tests would all be done on a treadmill. However, when I actually tried this, my footpod wouldn’t register my correct speed, and at the end of 2 miles, my watch was only reporting 1.5. That won’t do. No treadmills during LHR training!

Instead, I picked one of my favorite running paths, which is a relatively flat two mile loop. I did three loops around it, with the first mile counting as my warmup.

So, I present to you my first MAF test results!

Mile 1 18:14 / 144
Mile 2 20:18 / 145
Mile 3 18:47 / 146
Mile 4 19:28 / 147
Mile 5 18:46 / 147
Mile 6 17:44 / 147
Final 0.2 3:21 / 148
Total Time 1:56:40
Average Pace 18:51
Average HR 146

See? It’s slooooow. I was almost too embarrassed to post this. Am I that aerobically unfit? But that just means there’s lots of room for improvement, right? Right?

Notice that my times did not increase like they are supposed to. This confused me for awhile, but then I figured out that cardiac drift WAS happening, and I can tell that by how much I had to walk. But since I was walking faster than I was running (I know, that’s hilarious), it made my overall time for each mile go down. Hopefully this will all work itself out as my running speed increases at this heart rate.

Compare the cadence of my first and last miles. I was hardly having to stop and walk at all in the beginning, but by the end, I was hardly jogging.

jogging cadence

The first mile…

jogging cadence

…and the last mile.

Yes, it is entirely possible to jog at a 20 min/mi pace. Now you know.

My watch enjoyed mocking me throughout the run by auto pausing every so often. Because it thought I wasn’t moving. Thanks, Garmin.