AfterMAF

Alternative puns included MAFtermath and MAFterthoughts. I’m sure I’ll get a chance to use them later.

After I did my final MAF test Saturday, I went home and downloaded the information from the run, and then deleted the MAF heart rate alarm app from my watch. I am done, done, done with this method for awhile.

Here’s the data from my final MAF test of this training cycle. For reference: MAF Test #1, MAF Test #2, MAF Test #3.

Warmup: 1 mile, walking and easy running, 17:29, 123 bpm

It was cool and windy as heck during the run. The gales of November came very, very early, I guess. I had one HUGE spike to 158 bpm during the warm-up, for absolutely no reason. I think it was equipment error.

Mile 1: 16:00, 142 bpm
Mile 2: 15:44, 143 bpm
Mile 3: 16:02, 142 bpm
Mile 4: 15:42, 142 bpm
Mile 5: 15:33, 142 bpm

What the fffffffffff.

Cooldown: 1.1 mi, 17:09 pace, 135 bpm

Ok, I get that it was windy, so that might have been throwing things of. And I had some heartburn and hadn’t slept perfectly the night before due to some minor stomach pains, but what is this? The fastest mile is the last one? That’s the opposite of what a MAF test is supposed to show.

Let’s compare my average pace and HR for my previous MAF tests (ignoring test #3, which had GPS issues).

Test 1: 16:02, 135 bpm
Test 2: 15:05, 141 bpm
Test 4: 15:49, 142 bpm

I have made no progress. I suspected this during my run, when I couldn’t hit the paces I thought I could without my watch beeping like crazy. I know the wind was a factor, but still. I feel like I should have been a little closer to the Test 2 numbers.

I find this frustrating. It feels like a huge waste of my time. I’ve done no speed work over the last 4 months, and I’ve slowed way, way down to try to stay aerobic climbing hills, and it feels like I’ve done it all for no reason. I know this training works, so I’ll give it another shot, but I guess I was expecting magical results.

As with any experiment, repeatability is essential to obtaining reliable results. Did the weather slow me down 44 seconds? Probably not. I wasn’t feeling the best either, but I also can’t remember how I was feeling on the other days I did the test. If I did it a week from now, would I get better results? Maybe.

I made two major errors during this training. I didn’t do enough to change my diet, and I didn’t change my target HR after I got sick. I made some changes to my diet, trying to get more fat into my diet as well as more fruits and vegetables, but I didn’t really make wholesale changes to how I ate. My cold was significant enough that I should have knocked another 5 beats off my target heart rate, according to Dr. Maffetone. I plan to re-read his book before I go back to MAF training.

I also don’t think I did a fantastic job of warming up and cooling down. It was hard to achieve the slow ramp-up recommended by Dr. Maffetone; I usually had to walk my warm-ups, and with the cold weather and the inevitable hills on most of my routes, I would even sometimes find my heart rate spiking up while walking.

This is the ideal time to take a break from the training, since I will need to do some speedwork once I start training for the Park Point 5 miler. I will also be able to get in a few major hill workouts before Superior, which will be a huge boon.

There were good and bad aspects of doing this training. I’ll never do it in winter again, at least not until I’m considerably faster or living somewhere milder. The weather has too much of an impact on my heart rate, and I have many times had trouble getting in a proper warm-up (as discussed above), or have had to run much more slowly than planned due to the cold or wind. It was also difficult to stay warm while running; a faster pace would have generated more heat.

I found my patience tried many, many times as my heart rate monitor beeped away. It drove me nuts, which I’m sure didn’t help lower my heart rate any. It was also kind of embarrassing  to beep as I ran by people. Even writing about it, I’m kind of annoyed.

I did find that I was less tired after workouts, which should be an obvious benefit, since they were all done at an “easy” pace. I wasn’t red-faced and huffing and puffing after my runs. I am much more in tune to my body now that I am paying attention to my heart rate, and I’m more conscious of what an “easy” run actually feels like.

It helped my ego a bit to have a reason for slowing down. I could tell myself I was really faster than I was going (which is true, but how much faster, I don’t know). I also felt better about how I looked to others; since I was going slowly, but I wasn’t gasping for air, I felt less embarrassed about my pace. I felt running slowly, but at a smooth and controlled pace, looked better than running a little less slowly, but beet-red and struggling. This training method also kept me from “racing my training.” I just wish I’d made some demonstrable aerobic progress.

I’m looking forward to some more unstructured runs! I will still be monitoring my heart rate on each run, and I don’t plan on doing more than one “quality” workout (hills, tempo, intervals, etc) per week, so there will not be significant changes to the structure or intensity of my workouts through the end of my Superior training. Just a heck of a lot less beeping.

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