Dec 26, 2007 7:01 AM
Once again, we need to restart this thread given that it's getting
impossible to get a post through due to its length. You probably
don't need to always read the whole thread just to ask a question,
but I request that you read through this post and, if still interested,
read through the FAQ.
Generally speaking, I like to focus this thread on posting
results and answering questions about basebuilding, endurance
building, low heart rate training, etc., using methods prescribed
by Maffetone, Mark Allen, Stu Mittleman, and the like. This is
far from a substitute for reading their publications, but it may be
a helpful supplement and you can glean something from real
people's real world experiences. My preference is to keep this
a thread on real-world experiences, not a big debate on theories
from experts. For the most part, by cutting
back all of my training paces tremendously, I improved times in
almost all race distance categories, over a period of about a
1 M: 6:16 -> 5:36
2 M: 13:36 -> 12:10
5k: 21:20 -> 20:08
10k: 48:46 -> 42:24
10M: 77:45 -> 69:12
marathon: 4:03 -> 3:09
50M: 10:34 -> 7:53
100M: 18:53 (no time before low HR training to compare to!)
Also, nowadays, I can regularly run 3:10-3:20 marathons, many
in a year, even over a month or two, whereas
a couple years ago, I struggled to break 4 hours, over and over,
no matter how hard I worked in training.
If you're intrigued by this discussion, I'd suggest you read
the FAQ in my signature, along with some of the key links at
the top that I list. One factor that seems to be important in the
progress of this
approach is the need to incorporate enough downhill running at
fast pace (keeping heart rate up to the max MAF value - see
FAQ for what that means) for a reasonable percentage of volume.
In other words, make sure there's a little bit of a mix of faster
paced runs in your training, which you can do while staying
within the heart rate bounds by running on some extended downhills.
Simply put, find a hilly course for at least some of your runs. It
doesn't matter how slow you go up the hills (as long as you keep
the HR in check), but make sure you go fast enough on the downs
to keep your HR from getting too low. There's a 90% chance that
if you have a question, it's addressed in the FAQ.
Now, a few things that I should mention that are touched on in the
FAQ, but I'll reiterate here.
1. This is a not a promotion of slow-running. At least not in the
long term. For many that really need this, it will involve slowing
down, possibly a lot at first, in order to get faster for longer distances.
After 6 months to a year, your training pace may become faster
than it was when you started, at 20-30 beats lower heart rate.
2. There is nothing here that implies that running everything slow
will make you faster and faster, but rather that if you put in the good
time at a low enough heart rate range, you should be able to
extend the speed you currently have to longer distances.
3. We do tend to get in some discussions about physiology because
sometimes it's important to understand certain aspects. However,
I am not a physiologist and I much prefer to keep this thread about
real people, real occurrences, and not about theory and quotations
of famous (or not so famous) coaches and trainers. If you want
quotations from coaches and trainers, then do some research, check
out some books and read up! For the most part, the "example"
athletes discussed by most coaches and trainers are not everyday
runners like you and me. We do have a couple of physiologists
who post here that can answer some related questions.
4. My experience with this has been that the lower heart rate you
use, the better results, but the more painful it will be at first. Many
people will argue against that and try to provide you an excuse to
use a higher target heart rate. I can only say this - if anyone had
that excuse, it was me, and the higher heart rate target was not
successful for me. My max heart rate is at least 210 and my typical
training heart rate is about 139.
5. Nowhere will I tell you that you should always run everything
slow, but many people read a few lines here and there and make
that interpretation. Here are a few facts about this:
a. You probably need to slow down a lot at first if you're going
to use this approach.
b. You shouldn't expect to see much in the way of positive
results over the short term. The results appear over weeks
and months. If you want a quick fix, this is not the approach
c. After several weeks, things should start to improve. If they
are still getting worse after 4 weeks or so, it's time to step back
and see what's going on.
d. When you are achieving success with this approach, you may
continue to improve greatly, and possibly for a long time, as I
have. My feeling is that while you are still improving, why mess
with it? Transition to more intense training once you have gotten
all of the aerobic toothpaste out of the tube.
6. If your goal is to run the fastest marathon (or other aerobic race)
that you can possibly run, then eventually, you'll have to add more
aggressive training. This approach represents both a phase to
prepare for the next level of training as well as guidance for how to
keep your easy runs truly easy when you are training more aggressively.
7. I mentioned in another recent post in the last version of this thread
that there is a major paradox with aerobic development. Those
who have very poor aerobic conditioning will have a terribly slow
pace at a "deeply aerobic" low heart rate. These people will have to
spend a lot of time at low heart rates to develop their aerobic systems
and it will be painfully slow for a while. Even a very small volume of
higher heart rate activities will tend to interfere with the process. I
was in this category and I experienced this as have many others.
Those who have strong aerobic conditioning can already run a good
pace at a low heart rate. These people can add a significant volume
of higher intensity stuff and can still see further aerobic development.
I am in this category now. It's the ultimate insult to injury.
8. If you are in your low 20s or below or mid-50s or above, it may
take some real trial and error to find a good "maximum aerobic
function" heart rate. Also, if you have a very low max heart rate,
the same can be said. If you are in either of these situations, I
recommend that you read the Hadd article in the FAQ and follow
his guidance for selecting a basebuilding heart rate.
Now with that said, please read the following:
1. If you are interested in this approach, be aware that many people
have become extremely frustrated and angry when all of their
definitions of success have not been met, sometimes after 4 months.
For me, it was 6 months of dedicated running using a conservatively
low heart rate to achieve enormous (almost magical) benefits.
2. If you are starting just before or while it's hot and humid, you
are likely to see little or no progress over a good period of time.
That's not to imply that you won't see benefits - while those here
are posting how it was extremely difficult and frustrating to control
heart rate in a run, you'll see those following "traditional" approaches
elsewhere on coolrunning posting how they couldn't even finish
3. If you want to be able to understand why this worked or didn't
work, not only will you have to strictly adhere to the guidelines,
but you will have to keep records. Keep in mind that many, many
people have been highly successful with almost no recordkeeping
and some cheating here and there, but when things don't work,
no one can answer your questions with out specific and credible
data. The posting of a few MAF tests does not constitute usable
data to understand what's going right and what's going wrong.
4. Some people will absolutely require some element of downhill
training to really see the pace improvement at low heart rates.
Just running a dead slow pace on flat ground may cause a decay
in running economy.
5. Think about what your goals are:
a. to run without injury?
b. to improve race times in so and so distances?
c. to have race times better projected from short to long distances?
d. to be able to run a good pace at low heart rates?
6. See how things are going every few weeks if your improvements
are not obvious. See if any adjustments need to be made.
If all you care about is running without injury, then you really don't
need to keep records. Run below MAF for a while and see if you're
not injured. That's an easy one. If improving race times is what you
want, then before you start MAF training, spend a couple of months
racing your distances of interest. Then after your stint of MAF training,
run similar races and see what happens. Don't use your pace at low
heart rates without any race times to say that you've failed if this
was your objective.
I don't really believe in MAF tests. Or, more specifically, I believe
every run is a MAF test. Record your splits and avg HR per split
for every run. Make note if you went over MAF heart rate for more
than a few seconds. That's not to say you should compare every
day to the previous day, but when there's a problem, you need to
start looking at your detailed history. None of us can really answer
any questions without it, or with just a couple of anecdotal facts
(e.g., my runs this week have been crummy).
When you ask the group why everything is going wrong, be prepared
to answer the following questions:
1. how many miles per week have you been running for how long?
2. how old are you?
3. what value are you using for MAF heart rate?
4. what were your race times before MAF training and after
5. what were your pace splits and avg HR per split for your runs
over the past couple of months? do you have HR/pace data on
a site such as motionbased that you can share? are you absolutely
strict, never going above MAF on any run? what was the
temperature and dewpoint during each run?
6. do you incorporate downhills into your runs? what is your
heart rate on the downhill segments? what does your heart rate
do on uphills?
7. do you take in any carbs within a couple of hours before your
8. do you deal with a lot of stress?
9. are you on any medications?
10. do you do any other activities, such as swimming, spin class,
aerobics, weightlifting, etc? are you below MAF on all?
11. what was your resting heart rate before your started MAF training?
what is it now?
As a reminder, my first pace was 17 min/mile on a treadmill. About
8 months later, it was in the low 7s on the treadmill, mid-8s outside.
But, most importantly all of my race times improved. I have a lot
of downhills in all of my runs and I speed up a lot on them. I eat
nothing before or during any run. All of my activities are below MAF
in training (not in races). Anyone can "catch me" being wrong on
anything I say about myself. My log is public - anyone is welcome
to dig through and prove me wrong. I'm sure I'm wrong quite a bit,
especially as the facts age.
Low Heart Rate Training FAQ[/URL" target="_blank">
My marathons and ultras[/URL" target="_blank">
My races and reports[/URL" target="_blank">
[http://This message has been edited by leitnerj (edited Oct-20-2007).|http://This message has been edited by leitnerj (edited Oct-20-2007).]