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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Superior 25K Training: Week 1

Right back on the horse.

Monday: 3.5 mi, treadmill (walk), 118 bpm
Tuesday: rest
Wednesday: 4.5 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk south), 137 bpm
Thursday: 4.7 mi, trail (Bagley), 125 bpm
Friday: 5.5 mi, trail (Bagley), 136 bpm
Saturday: 7.3 mi, trail (Hartley), 140 bpm
Sunday: 9.0 mi, paved trail (Lakewalk north), 138 bpm
Total: 34.5 mi

Since Zumbro was kinda/sorta a training run rather than a goal race, I jumped right back into training and treated last week like a step-back week rather than a true race week, where I’d take longer time off. I intended to take Monday as a rest day as well, but I decided to do some active recovery by walking on the treadmill, and I felt like that was a good choice. Active recovery on Saturday or Sunday would have been better, but I’ll have to remember that for next time.

Tuesday I got a massage. I had a gift certificate from Christmas that I’ve been saving for this occasion, and it was a great decision. My massage therapist is awesome, and I have grown really comfortable with her. My hips and legs felt significantly better afterward, and overall I felt a lot more relaxed. The only issue I had was a little head stuffiness, which was uncomfortable while lying face down. I asked her how long I should wait after a race, and she said that I’d waited a good amount of time; the day after a race, there is often too much inflammation to benefit from a higher-pressure massage.

Wednesday I was back at it, on the Lakewalk, taking it kinda easy kinda not easy. I ended up running aerobically at a 14:56 pace, which was unexpected. The massage, plus slightly warmer weather, plus easier terrain, must have all worked in my favor.

Thursday I ran at Bagley. I was passed early on by the Zumbro 50 mile open winner with ease; he really makes running look easy. I make it look extremely difficult. I was STARVING the whole time. I’m not sure why, but I was so freaking hungry that I had to quit early. I had no energy and my heart rate was unusually low, which was a sign that I needed to stop. It freaked me out a little, but I was fine after I ate something and relaxed.

Friday I ran Bagley again, and I felt normal. It was my first run of the year in shorts and a t-shirt, and it felt like heaven. There was a still a bit of snow on the trails, but it had receded significantly since the day prior.

Saturday I went to Hartley, where it was muddy in parts (so muddy that I felt guilty about being on Root Canal; I will avoid it for awhile and I hope they will close it until the trail can dry up), with a few patches of lingering snow, and some dry stretches. I felt decent, although I ran slower than I would have liked. Slogging through mud took a lot out of my legs and my heart rate was tough to keep under control.

Sunday I wanted to do a long-ish run, but keep it easy, so I did the upper Lakewalk. It was cooler, so I wore a lightweight long-sleeved tee over a tank top, and I was glad that I did. At first I was worried I might get a little too warm, but then the wind kicked up on the way back, and I was cold. I was also extremely frustrated. The wind started gusting after I’d turned around, so the second half of my run was into the wind, and I had been hoping to have a few slightly faster miles because of a couple of slight downhills. It was disheartening, to say the least, to have the wind gusts send my heart rate up just as I was expecting to be able to calm it down and cruise. I kept hearing the “beep beep beep” of the HR alarm on my watch, which was driving me crazy as sometimes my heart rate was only 144 or 145. I ended up ignoring it and letting it beep away for the last couple of miles, although I still tried to keep it down. The run itself was decent, with all my miles in the 16:XX range, but I am tired of being slowed down by external circumstances like wind or cold. I also got a bit of a sunburn, just on my neck and chest.

I plan to get a new pair of shoes and make a few other changes to my training plan in the next few weeks, so I’ll provide some updates once I’ve gotten the shoes and figured out what exactly I’m going to do.

Zumbro 17 Training: Week 10

I was this close to DNSing the race and heading to Tampa for the Frozen Four.

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Source: Michael Dwyer/AP via the St. Cloud Times.

Monday: rest
Tuesday: 4.5 mi, treadmill, 136 bpm
Wednesday: rest
Thursday: 6 mi, treadmill, 134 bpm
Friday: 7.5 mi, road (MAF test), 137 bpm
Saturday: 6.0 mi, treadmill, 139 bpm
Sunday: 12.1 mi, trails (Hartley), 141 bpm (with large sections of “cheating” over 142 bpm)
Total: 36 mi

If I wake up tomorrow with my cold worse again I am going to explode. And DNS the damned race.

I decided screw it, I was going to run anyway, despite the cold. I stayed inside for my evening runs, to make sure I didn’t get too cold (plus it was dismal outside) and could stop at anytime if my heart rate went crazy.

I already discussed the MAF test. Saturday’s run was unremarkable. It was snowing off and on all day so I had to stay inside, which sucked.

Sunday I needed to get outside and run a challenging run, for confidence’s sake. I don’t know what I was really thinking I would prove from a long-ish run, but I guess I needed time to practice eating and drinking during a reasonably long run. My goal was to run 12 miles in 4 hours aerobically. I am fairly amazed that I managed to get almost exactly 12 miles from a route not planned in advance. I went to Hartley and did Root Canal, 2 loops of Guardrail, Root Canal again, and then some kind of cobbled together route that involved unpacked snow. So the last few miles were in the most difficult terrain, unintentionally. I was getting cranky as heck because I just couldn’t stay below that 20 min pace and stay under 142 bpm. I was hoping to make up time at the end and hit the fluffy snow and couldn’t, so I “cheated” and just listened to my monitor beep away while I ran above my target heart rate. At this point, who cares? My training was interrupted by a cold for almost a freaking month. It undid a heck of a lot of the gains I’d made in fitness, especially aerobic fitness. I’ll be managing, rather than micro-managing, my heart rate at Zumbro, anyway. And I just hope and pray that there’s no snow and it isn’t a muddy slogfest the whole way. Some nice dry dirt trails would be amazing. I’ll be so fast! Ha.

The breakdown:
Mile 1: 19:18, 121 bpm
Mile 2: 19:40, 135 bpm
Mile 3: 20:03, 142 bpm
Mile 4: 21:53, 143 bpm
Mile 5: 19:15, 134 bpm
Mile 6: 21:24, 145 bpm
Mile 7: 21:17, 142 bpm
Mile 8: 19:31, 141 bpm
Mile 9: 19:01, 147 bpm
Mile 10: 20:03, 148 bpm
Mile 11: 20:18, 145 bpm
Mile 12: 16:49, 148 bpm
Loose change: 19:49 pace, 150 bpm (weird)

I ate a protein bar and drank about 10 oz of sports drink and 10 oz of water during the run and didn’t have any major stomach issues. I felt kinda crappy at the beginning but that was because I ate a banana while driving to Hartley and bananas don’t always sit well in my stomach. It seems like a decent strategy although Clif bars are a pain in the butt to open. I might break them into bite-sized pieces beforehand and carry them in a plastic bag for the race. I should also try chowing down at aid stations, since food is always easily accessible there, and then have the bars as a back-up.

The next couple weeks are going to be gentler as I prepare for the race, rest, and get back to healthy. The weather should be a BIT milder, and race day is looking to have a high of over 50 F! I can’t wait, maybe I can even run outside in shorts. I’ve got a lot of logistics to plan and I need to study the race information as I’ll be going in with no inkling about the course. Scary that it’s in less than two weeks, but I’m excited to race again, it’s been over 4 months.

MAF Test #3

I decided to do one last MAF test in this training cycle, despite missing all that training and despite still being sick. I kind of just wanted to see how bad the damage was. Plus the weather today was probably the most pleasant it’ll be in Duluth from now until the race. The extended forecast makes me a sad panda.

It was probably a bad idea to do the MAF test and also to run 7 miles outdoors, because I kinda feel crummy tonight, but I’m hoping a good night’s sleep will correct that. My sinuses are clearing, and I’m hoping my lungs will follow.

For reference: MAF #1, MAF #2.

Warm-up: 1 mile, walking and easy running, 17:45, 123 bpm avg.

My heart rate wasn’t jumping all over the place, which was really nice. I was able to transition to my target heart rate much more smoothly than I have in the past, which is no doubt due to the nicer weather. It was windy and I was walking into the wind at the beginning, so my heart rate was in the 120s to start, but once I turned away from the wind it settled down.

Mile 1: 15:35, 141 bpm
Mile 2: 15:27, 141 bpm
Mile 3: 15:36, 142 bpm
Mile 4: 13:44, 141 bpm
Mile 5: 13:45, 141 bpm

Ok the last 2 miles are crap data. Something was up with my GPS as I was hitting like 8:XX paces while staying aerobic. Nope. I don’t know what happened, it seemed to either give me extra distance during those last few miles, or shorted me miles in the beginning. I know one or both of these things happened because I ran an out-and-back and ended up measuring about 0.3 miles more than expected. Annoying. I know there was some kind of problem because Strava has the difference between my moving time and my elapsed time at 10 minutes, and I didn’t stop at all on the run.

Cooldown: 1.47 miles, easy running and then walking, 16:53, 135 bpm avg.

I didn’t really learn very much from this run, other than that I’m about 30 seconds below my average pace from test #2, which can 100% be blamed on this illness and the accompanying training gaps. I’m really, really hoping I’ll wake up tomorrow feeling better, and not more miserable. I mean, I have to, right? I can’t stay sick forever. It’s getting annoying, and it’s making me annoying.

ZUMBRO 17 TRAINING: WEEK 4

Now 33.33333% of the way there! With excessive significant figures.

Monday: 5 mi, treadmill, 137 bpm
Tuesday: rest (I went to a hockey game and pigged out on the world’s largest carrot cake serving from Bellisio’s, It’s more like 6-8 servings, and delicious.)
Wednesday: 4.5 mi, treadmill, 134 bpm
Thursday: 6.06 mi, treadmill, 137 bpm
Friday: rest
Saturday: 6.06 mi, treadmill, 139 bpm
Sunday: 11.1 mi, road/paved trail (Minnesota Point & lower Lakewalk), 138 bpm
Total: 32.7 mi

Hooray! Another great training week. I still managed an increase in mileage, despite taking two rest days. My workouts are really boring lately, because it’s been a lot of treadmill work, and they’re all done at MAF threshold, so there’s no variety. It’s warming up again, so that should change.

Thursday and Saturday I ran til the treadmill ran out of time, or as close to it as possible. Saturday’s HR was a little higher for some unknown reason.

Sunday’s long run was the first double-digit run of the year for me. It was ok. It wasn’t as warm as I would have liked, and it was icy in a lot of spots. My heart rate was all over the place due to the cold and wind. A week ago, I did 9.4 miles at 16:07 pace with an average HR of 135 bpm, and that included a very deliberate 2 mile warm-up and 2+ mile cool-down which involved walking. Sunday I did fewer than 2 miles additional distance, with less walking to warm up and basically zero cool-down, but at at 16:51 pace and a HR of 138 bpm. Granted, I did the 11 mile workout a day after a 6 mile workout, rather than after a rest day like the 9 miler, but it just goes to show how much of a factor the weather is when running by heart rate.

I smeared Vaseline (hey, free advertising for them!) all over my face in an attempt to stave off frostbite. I didn’t feel like it did all that much. Not running into the wind did more. My hands were really cold from carrying my water bottle. It’s not insulated, so the cold water was chilling my hands, and I had to keep switching back and forth. I ate an energy bar in increments at Mile 5, 6, and 7, and then I ditched my water bottle at my car at mile 7.5. I had to in order to keep from completely freezing my hands. I need some better gloves/mittens still, because once again they were red and puffy at the end of the run and I had to sit in my car for awhile with the heat going until I regained enough dexterity to drive.

It was a bit risky to toss the water bottle, not because I was thirsty, but because I didn’t bring along the other energy bar I’d stored in my car aid station. I suppose I could have grabbed just the bar, but I didn’t want to risk it falling out of my pocket. I took a big swig of vanilla Coke before I left the car, and that was all the food I had for the next hour. Because I am slow, I have to be really careful about eating on many of my runs. Most people wouldn’t have to worry about a bonk on an 11 mile run, but most people aren’t running as slowly as I am. It ended up being ok but I probably could have used a bite or two to eat. Once I got back to the car I didn’t feel like eating but drank some more pop. It’s not that much worse than sports drinks, right? Whatever, I like pop, IDGAF. I am going to make sure I have a bottle of vanilla Coke in my car for after Zumbro. I will drink it in my hotel sitting in the in-room whirlpool tub, trying to warm up.

I ran 17 miles between Saturday and Sunday. It took 4 hours, 47 minutes. I think that might bode well for me to race under 5 hours at Zumbro. First of all, it’s 16.7 miles, not actually 17. While it won’t be on a treadmill and won’t be on flat road, it will also (I hope) not be 18 degrees and windy, and I won’t be restricting myself to a heart rate of 142 bpm (though I won’t be going wild and letting it skyrocket, either), so I am kind of hoping I’m on the right track here. Plus there’s 8 more weeks of training coming (6 more that really matter, since it takes awhile for fitness to take hold, or so I hear).

ZUMBRO 17 TRAINING: WEEK 3

25% of the way there! Holy crap.

Monday: 5.3 mi, road, 136 bpm
Tuesday: 4.5 mi, treadmill, UMTR hill challenge, 136 bpm
Wednesday: 6 mi, treadmill, 137 bpm
Thursday: 3 mi, treadmill, 134 bpm
Friday: rest
Saturday: 9.4 mi, road, MAF test, 135 bpm
Sunday: 3.4 mi, paved trail (lower Lakewalk), 134 bpm
Total: 31.5 mi

Another great week. I literally cannot remember anything about Monday’s run, so it must have been boring.

Tuesday I ran the UMTR hill challenge, which I’m not officially registered for, but I’ve already run twice now (first time in week 1). There are two separate treadmill challenges: the first is 15 minutes at 15% incline, which official participants are doing 3 times, so I will also. The second is a “Leadville Hill” challenge, which is 3 miles at 15% incline. That’ll be the final one, I guess. The first time, I did 0.71 miles in 15 minutes, and this past week, I did 0.65 miles in 15 minutes, both while doing my best to stay under my goal heart rate of 142 bpm. I was disappointed to cover a shorter “distance” in my second challenge, but it’s not that big of a deal.

Wednesday and Thursday were general treadmill runs of no consequence. Friday I enjoyed my rest day and went to a men’s hockey game. Saturday was the MAF test as previously discussed.

Sunday was not good. I was planning on doing 4.6 miles, but I felt off the whole time I was running. My heart rate was kinda funky, and I felt strange. I thought I was dizzy or light-headed, but then wasn’t having and vision or equilibrium problems. I also thought maybe I was nauseated, but I wasn’t. I maybe had a little bit of heartburn, I guess, but my stomach wasn’t upset. I felt so strange that I ended up abruptly turning around at 1.71 miles (I was looking down at my watch so I know this for certain) and walking most of the way back. It was cold and windy, and I felt a bit under-dressed even though I was wearing the same stuff I normally wear.

This upcoming week is going to be COLD, so I guess I’ll be hitting the treadmill for most of my workouts. That is so depressing.

MAF Test #2

I decided to do my second MAF test as part of the 9 mile run I had planned for the weekend. I’m really glad I chose to do that run on Saturday, when it was warm and sunny, instead of today, when it’s warm but there’s a wintry mix coming down.

My last test is documented in full here. It went badly.

I did the test on Minnesota Point again, although since I was running a longer distance, the “course” was a little different.

Warmup: 1 mile walking, 17:46, 125 bpm; 1 mile “jogging,” 16:48, 130 bpm

I think the longer warm-up helped. It was definitely warmer outside than the last time I did the test, but it was windy, which affected my heart rate. I had a spike up to 147 bpm when walking at an 18 minute pace, which I can only imagine was due to a gust of wind or something external.

Mile 1: 14:53, 141 bpm
Mile 2: 15:15, 141 bpm
Mile 3: 15:17, 140 bpm
Mile 4: 15:03, 141 bpm
Mile 5: 14:54, 141 bpm

Okay, that’s not exactly how the test is supposed to go, but the results are all kind of clustered together. I ended up averaging a pace of 15:06 and a heart rate of 141 bpm, right on the edge of where I’m supposed to be. It’s better than the last test, which had each mile getting faster and my heart rate nowhere near the max. My last results were:

Mile 1: 16:52, 137 bpm
Mile 2: 16:03, 134 bpm
Mile 3: 16:00, 133 bpm
Mile 4: 15:27, 134 bpm
Mile 5: 15:43, 135 bpm
Avg: 16:02, 135 bpm

I can’t say for certain that I’ve improved, because while the results are faster for the second test, so is my heart rate. It was also colder, I think, when I did the first test. I think I can safely say there’s been a slight improvement, but if I was asked to prove it, I couldn’t. I think it’s logical that running a minute per mile faster in the second test over the first test cannot only be explained by weather and the 6 bpm higher HR average. I definitely think the longer warm-up helped, but I think I still need to tweak the warm-up a bit. There’s too much walking, but that’s the only way to gradually increase my HR right now. My slowest running paces still keep me in the low 130s range; once I’m better conditioned, I’ll be able to run at HRs in the low 120s, and won’t need to walk to warm up. So while my heart and lungs were warmed up, my legs weren’t as warmed up as I’d have liked.

Cooldown: 1 mile walk/run & snack, 16:31, 133 bpm; 1 mile walk/run, 17:23, 128 bpm; 0.4 mi walk, 18:43, 125 bpm.

I would have liked to have had a snack sooner, but that would have affected the results of the test. I didn’t mean for the cooldown to be so long, but I ended up going a little past the 4.5 mile mark on the way out. I crossed the lift bridge and ended up going a block down to the corner of the Paulucci building in order to put some space between a group of people crossing the bridge and myself.

I feel confident that my second attempt is good enough data to use for comparison. I should be doing my next MAF test on March 5th, right before I go on a short business trip, and right after I return from my Florida vacation. We’ll see how much my vacation throws off the results.

I feel kind of crappy today. I had some general hip soreness during the run and felt a bit creaky the rest of the day, and a little into today. I still need to get out for a medium-length run today, so we’ll see how I feel. I can always take Monday as a rest day if need be.