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!
||18:14 / 144
||20:18 / 145
||18:47 / 146
||19:28 / 147
||18:46 / 147
||17:44 / 147
||3:21 / 148
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.
The first mile…
…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.