For the first time, “base” period of running made sense. And I’ve coached many levels of athletes, but until then I never got it. Sure, run easy(er), run more mileage, get in “shape,” and don’t get burned out… that stuff really has very little, if anything to do with it. I’ll let you check out the “Aerobic Engine” page rather than explain it here… but it follows up the topic with links for how to heart rate train and the Maffetone Method – and yes, it can be VERY frustrating at first to keep your heart rate under the suggested limit. The hardest mental barrier for anyone to start training this way is the mindset of “the harder you work, the more benefit you get.” This training method has a way of monitoring your progress called the “MAF Test” – Maximum Aerobic Function Test.
Last year we followed the heart rate training for 3 solid months and mostly the rest of the year. Steph PR’d in the 5k and altitude 10k without running a single step at “race pace” before the events. She also was able to run more than 100 miles/wk without injury, where 60 miles would sideline her in previous years. I saw measures of progress in endurance more than speed. I consistently ran 100+ miles a week (156 mile max), finished my first 50 mile race, and was able to run a 16 mile pace run at 5:50/mi pace – surely a PR in the marathon was to follow had I not decided to injure myself trail building (stupid!).
So, Steph and I decided to start off this year’s “base” period with the MAF test as we enter the next few months of training with the Maffetone Method. Here’s how it works:
Basically, you “warmup” 15 minutes VERY easy (not at HR limit), then run 5 miles straight (some do 3 or 4 miles) as close to prescribed HR limit as you can and mark the times… this should be done on an easy to repeat course so the data isn’t skewed in subsequent tests (minimize variables!). Next time compare both the pace and the difference between your first to last mile, because the pace will slow down throughout the 5 miles… then 15min “cool down.”
As an example, Saturday we were on the indoor track and I ran:
Mile 1 – 7:39.9 @ 156
Mile 2 – 7:47.5 @ 156
Mile 3 – 7:54.7 @ 156
Mile 4 – 7:56.8 @ 156Mile 5 – 8:03.7 @ 156
Mile 1 – 8:13.0 @ 156
Mile 2 – 8:17.1 @ 156
Mile 3 – 8:24.7 @ 155
Mile 4 – 8:21.6 @ 156
Mile 5 – 8:24.5 @ 156
We’ll revisit the test next month see how it compares!
Quite a few BARA people have started trying doing it, anybody else in?