Tuesday, January 21, 2014

MAF Training

Michelle has had me training by HR from day 1.  I loathed HR training until she really got me to understand the importance.  Now that I am diving into the world of coaching, I thought I ought to do my own research and put down my own thoughts on the subject.  Michelle had been having me use the maximum aerobic function MAF method of HR training.  Here's link to the article on MAF-test straight from the MAN himself Dr. Phil Maffetone(my next post will be on my personal progress using this method)

One of the reasons I've not been put on the sideline for too long in my IM training is the use of MAF training...i.e. knowing if you are running too hard too often...which is a recipe for injury and illness.  Injuries and sickness are much less likely to occur when you are not running your body into the ground day in and day out.  And the key to having consistency and progress in training/racing is avoiding both of these.  Avoid those niggles and visits to the doc and you avoid setbacks in your training.  PROGRESS!!

MAF training also measures if you are actually running EASY enough.  IMO I see too many people running too hard too often and completely ignoring their 'recovery' runs.  Your body reaps so many benefits due to these recovery runs.  Ah RECOVERY.  When one pushes through and keeps running HARD instead of backing off, you burn the candle on both ends.  HR training keeps you from blowing that fuse. 

Want to get faster?  Slow down.  Build that aerobic base.  This occurs when one actually runs within their HR zone.  This could be SLOW, painfully SLOW.  In fact, you may have to walk when first staring out.   Gah!  I'd be a $$ rich RICH $$$ lady if I had a nickel for every time I've heard, "it's SO painful for me to run slow."  I actually LOVE running slow...I love it because I'm able to BUST out proper speed work when it's on my schedule because I'm RECOVERED.  It's been proven time and time again, building the base = the speed will come once your aerobic capacity improves.   The benefit of this base build is the ability to run FASTER at the SAME effort, meaning the same heart rate.  This type of training is best to be done NOW, during the *off-season*.  Once that base is built it provides a FOUNDATION for speed/strength work that comes later in the season  Without this base getting into the anaerobic sessions is like "building a house on sand".

 In addition there's a bunch of science that shows you will loose some body fat as well...uhh, ok *bonus*!

Ok, the test!!!  I snagged this from LUCHO .  I'm pretty sure he's the the KING of MAF training.

1. Take 180 and subtract your age.
2. Take that number and correct it by the amount next to the statement that best describes your level of fitness:
  • a. Subtract five beats if you are recovering from a major illness or injury that has kept you from training for six months or more.
  • b. Leave the number where it is if you have been working out about two to three days per week for at least a year.
  • c. Add five beats if you have been working out more than three days per week for at least a year.
  • d. Add 10 beats if you have been working out more than five days per week for at least five years without recurring colds, illnesses, injuries or long periods of burnout.
  • e. If you are older than 55 years old or younger than 25 years old, add an additional five beats to whatever number you have right now.

Once you have your target HR let's get to the good part RUNNING...

Perform the MAF Test on a track, running at the maximum aerobic heart rate. A one- to five-mile test, with each one-mile interval recorded, provides good data. The test should be done following an easy 12–15 minute warm up, and be performed about every month throughout the year. *I'm having my athletes perform the 5 mile test as they have some miles under their belt.

While training, create a range of 10 beats below the maximum aerobic heart rate; example, if your target HR was 145, train between 135 and 145 staying as close to 145 as possible. To develop the aerobic system most effectively, all training should be at or below this level during base building. As the aerobic system develops, you will be able to run faster at the same maximum aerobic heart rate.1

GOT IT? :)

Here are some FUN READS on MAF testing and TRAINING.

Mama Simmons

Miss Zippy

Sock Doc

get a hold of me @kelgunn@gmail.com with any additional questions!!


  1. What do you use to monitor your heart rate?

    Thanks, Ladonna

    1. Hi Ladonna! Great question! I use Garmin, but there are others that are pretty good such as Polar and Timex. I checked around and it looks like there are others out there such as Adidas, but I don't know much about their HR products. Hope this helps, let me know if you have any other questions! Take care!