The MAF / Maffetone method as base training

I have talked, written, discussed, video recorded this subject over and over again in the last 15 years so many times that I would not be able to count it in 100s of hands. Runner however forget fast and need to be reminded. I give the basic laws and attach a video so you can keep on improving till the end of time:

  1. MAF test: You run an 8km distance in a place that you can find anytime and where you can repeat the test very often. The best is a local running track or a stretch of uninterrupted non technical path. Same time of the day after the same breakfast. You subtract your age from 180. Subtract again 3. If you were 40 years old, that would be 137 to 140bpm heart rate. You must stick to this heart rate zone for the integrity of the run. You warm up properly though preceding the measure. You restart your watch with a new run activity. Start running. You press lap time each 1km ! Giving you splits. The least you slow down between laps and the more gradual time gaps you have in between laps the fitter you are. Big gaps show lack of endurance. You repeat the test once a week or once each 10days.
  2. If each test is becoming better and better over time, just keep on training and keep on doing whatever you are doing.
  3. If the tests are degrading or all over the place, there is a problem. The first step is to remove stress. Use the MAF equation. 180 – your age – 10. This is a 10 beat range. For our 40 year old athlete 130 to 140bpm heart rate. After warming up for each run, you never exceed the top of this given heart rate range and if you want to improve you try using the center of the range as your objective as often as possible.
  4. Given the nature of the aerobic system, it reflects all the stresses placed on the body. If, despite the months of only MAF training, your tests are not improving, you must look for answers. Do not search straight away in volumes and intensity of training. Search for health reasons first. Diet, sleep, stimulants, alcohol, lack of hygiene, sanitary issues, stress from work / family / money and much more.
  5. When your body is absorbing all the training and you feel that it would be unwise to further increase running volume in this season, you can do MAF play. Downhill or uphill MAF repeats. MAF runs after smart strength and conditioning. MAF runs after cycling at MAF. MAF runs multiple times a day. MAF runs with no breakfast. MAF runs fasted. Couple of weeks of shorter weekly runs and longer weekend long runs. No need to run 10km every single day. It can be 5km every day, than 25km at the weekend. It can be 4 x 3km a day. Play around and shock the body with a pleasant surprise, without sending it to stress.
  6. A modified anaerobic training also can be added in each week then after. This is about short hill reps at its best. 7 x 7 seconds is just a perfect ratio, with 90 to 120sec recoveries. The timeframes are just short enough to not to elevate the heart rate ever above MAF and not to fatigue the nervous system. Long enough to stimulate the fast twitch fibres and to strengthen the posterior chain. Joint and especially lower leg stability is powerfully trained too. Switch the hill angle each time you do this. Once every 8 to 10 days.
  7. Maffetone and Lydiard as well believes that if the aerobic system is trained deeply and properly, a couple of weeks of speed training and a couple of sessions of real anaerobic training is sufficient to prepare the body for races. If you wanted to be racing. For a beginner that can mean one week where the athlete completes a repetition session, one real tempo run and maybe a long run what is 5 to 10beats elevated over MAF. Then he takes one week of MAF. After recovered, a week of true speed can be introduced, like a 4 x 200 + 2 x 100 with big recoveries on Tuesday, than a (200 + 300) x 2 + 2 x 150. That is two weeks total. For a very advanced athlete, this might be 4 weeks of speed training. Depending on the race he goes in, 4 weeks total of anaerobic training will mostly suffice. Surely for an 800 to 1500m runner that would be the case. 5k and over maybe 1 to 3 weeks and for half marathon and over, real anaerobic training is unnecessary stress and brings too high risks for too little reward. One 30/30 session every two months is largely sufficient. In half marathons and marathons the benefits of a highly trained aerobic system is a more optimal way for achieving results. Sprint finishes are rare and most likely the result of misjudgement of self ability. Using the aerobic systems capacity way earlier than the last 150m might have won the gold, like speeding up 4sec a km 5km out.

Here you go. Much more can be added, but these are kind of the basics most people must understand. Also buy “The Big book of endurance training and racing” and the “Endurance Handbook” if you wanted to know more !

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