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I was thinking about this on my run last night while struggling to stay in my aerobic zone.

 

I generally follow the Maffetone method for run training and had been starting to see some good improvement until I injured on the bike. A 2 month layoff has put my aerobic ability back what feels like 12 months.

 

The real question is - how detrimental is drifting into zone 3 / tempo pace when trying to build aerobic efficiency?

 

I have no problem walking to get it back under, but this could also relate to trail and hill running, rather than my current unfitness. I've just moved into a hilly area, with some great trail paths very close. Some programs I've seen absolutely rule out going into the next zone, but I've heard others say it doesn't really matter, provided the majority is aerobic.

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Staying aerobic for the early part of the run is most important.

 

If you go fast early, even when you slow down your body will burn more carbs (relative to normal carb/fat ratio for that speed) due to the early fast pace. If you run the first half aerobic and then speed up for the second half your body will actually burn less carbs for the fast pace due to the early slow speed.

 

When using the Maffetone method, it is obviously ideal to stay aerobic for the whole run. However your aerobic efficiency will still improve with a mixture of running paces as you generally get fitter, just maybe not as quickly or as far as the Maffetone method. Also my experience with myself and those I coach is that the Maffetone method works best when you run nearly every day. If you are running 3 times a week or less, I think the advantage of the Maffetone method is minimal or non-existent. Also the improvement is rarely linear. I'll find I have very little improvement (ie, pace for set HR) over 4 to 5 weeks and then big chunks of the improvement over the next 2 weeks.

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Thanks Rob. That makes sense to me. I found the same thing previously, it took a long while to see any improvement, then it started ramping up.

 

That's an interesting point about running almost everyday. Do you think the main advantage then of Maffetone is the increased mileage that it presumably allows rather than increased efficiency? Actually, thinking about it, they could be pretty closely related.

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Unless you are talking about running hard efforts under a couple of minutes in duration, it'll be pretty much all aerobic. Any effort that is longer than about a minute or so will always be dominantly aerobic.

 

Pace (and ultimately duration along with a few other factors) then determines the mix of aerobic lipolysis and aerobic glycolysis.

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I was thinking about this on my run last night while struggling to stay in my aerobic zone.

 

I generally follow the Maffetone method for run training and had been starting to see some good improvement until I injured on the bike. A 2 month layoff has put my aerobic ability back what feels like 12 months.

 

The real question is - how detrimental is drifting into zone 3 / tempo pace when trying to build aerobic efficiency?

 

I have no problem walking to get it back under, but this could also relate to trail and hill running, rather than my current unfitness. I've just moved into a hilly area, with some great trail paths very close. Some programs I've seen absolutely rule out going into the next zone, but I've heard others say it doesn't really matter, provided the majority is aerobic.

How do you even work out a hr number - there's a million formulas on the Internet and they all yield different ranges???

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How do you even work out a hr number - there's a million formulas on the Internet and they all yield different ranges???

 

Yep - was a bit daunting when I first gave it a go. I would have taken an age based formula originally. But then did some field testing to work out threshold. That's the one I've stuck to. The age based formula wasn't actually that far off. Even when you start comparing to RPE, although knowing the HR zones might influence that.

 

Using HR is just another tool, another gadget, but I feel it's a pretty good guide.

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Unless you are talking about running hard efforts under a couple of minutes in duration, it'll be pretty much all aerobic. Any effort that is longer than about a minute or so will always be dominantly aerobic.

 

Pace (and ultimately duration along with a few other factors) then determines the mix of aerobic lipolysis and aerobic glycolysis.

 

I was a bit surprised when I saw a 5km race is over 90% aerobic. I haven't seen lipolysis or glycolysis before, I'll look them up. I'd guess it's using fats or sugars?

 

You believe in pace training over HR, Alex? You say there are a couple of other factors including duration. With heart rate it's easy to see what the body is doing, and how it's reacting to previous sessions. Pace training seems so rigid. But there might be a way to incorporate the other factors.

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I've never been an advocate of becoming a zone drone.

 

I believe in training that's appropriate for you. How you achieve that means using tools and methods appropriate for you.

 

Pace, HR, perceived exertion (and power for cyclists) all have their place as guides to intensity of effort. Use them wisely but don't confuse what each can and cannot tell you, they are not the same things.

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I was a bit surprised when I saw a 5km race is over 90% aerobic.

 

Yep. It's about 50:50 for maximal efforts of about 60 seconds, around 75% aerobic by about 4-minutes of maximal effort and rapidly heads towards the high 90% mark as you get towards 20-minutes of maximal effort.

 

Our anaerobic energy capacity is quite limited, and restoring it once used is also a wholly aerobic process.

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Yep - was a bit daunting when I first gave it a go. I would have taken an age based formula originally. But then did some field testing to work out threshold. That's the one I've stuck to. The age based formula wasn't actually that far off. Even when you start comparing to RPE, although knowing the HR zones might influence that.

 

Using HR is just another tool, another gadget, but I feel it's a pretty good guide.

I just looked up this maffetone thing. Seems like im lazier than I thought - most my sessions are way under his magic number Edited by lzbones
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It was suggested to me a few years ago by a local trainer that I sought out for some advice. At that stage I kept on injuring myself. Myself, I like the idea of it. And I tried it for a while, but kinda like Rob was saying, I don't think I was training enough to see benefits from it. Of course the guy was suggesting I up my training amounts, but I don't have time for that. In the end, I felt like I just learned to go slow. I was using it during cycling and swimming too. Fun going up Toowoomba Hills trying to keep my hr around 140.

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Staying aerobic for the early part of the run is most important.

 

If you go fast early, even when you slow down your body will burn more carbs (relative to normal carb/fat ratio for that speed) due to the early fast pace. If you run the first half aerobic and then speed up for the second half your body will actually burn less carbs for the fast pace due to the early slow speed.

 

When using the Maffetone method, it is obviously ideal to stay aerobic for the whole run. However your aerobic efficiency will still improve with a mixture of running paces as you generally get fitter, just maybe not as quickly or as far as the Maffetone method. Also my experience with myself and those I coach is that the Maffetone method works best when you run nearly every day. If you are running 3 times a week or less, I think the advantage of the Maffetone method is minimal or non-existent. Also the improvement is rarely linear. I'll find I have very little improvement (ie, pace for set HR) over 4 to 5 weeks and then big chunks of the improvement over the next 2 weeks.

I tried maff for a while, but don't think I had the volume for it to be useful. If you were running 5-6 times a week how long would you think each run would need to be for Maffetone to be a useful method?

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And I tried it for a while, but kinda like Rob was saying, I don't think I was training enough to see benefits from it.

 

 

How long did you do it for Goughy? I'm starting to second guess whether it's right for me. I hadn't thought about the frequency of running. Might be easier to run 5 times a week rather than find a new method.

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how does the average athlete do this, like i am far from an athlete but 180-27 is 153, for me to run its usually 170-190. i dont even know if I could do much more than a walk at 153

 

As long as you're prepared to feel like a knob, it's doable. Few walks in there to get HR back down, but doesn't take all that long to be able to 'run'. Maybe depends what sort of distance you're training for too? If you're looking at 5k runs then maybe it's better to smash em out. Although as mentioned above, 5km is still mainly aerobic. But I'm far from an athlete as well Kiwi, so maybe that's a better questions answered by the coaches.

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I reckon I annoyed my mates with it for about 6 months. That's also why I stopped. They got sick of waiting for me on the bike, and wanted to run intervals every now and then.

 

The one thing he did tell me was if I wanted to run intervals or do some speed work, find a gentle even downslope section, so I can run faster for the same hr.

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I tried it a few years ago training for a 5 k after not having run for 6 months or so. Because I'm really old the hr was meant to stay below 133 which it did most of the time, luckily it was mainly in the half dark early morning so nobody could see me moving barely above walking pace. Anyway, on the day for a twisting but pretty flat course ran 20.50 after expecting 24 or 25 so it surprised me

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The other big reason for me giving up on it is my training is my social time, and it's hard to be social when you're so far behind everyone. The only injuries I've had since giving it up though have been a PF issue due to shoes, and a current long time back issue not related to activity. Probably when one of my knees goes again I'll be saying to myself 'should have kept it up'.

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I tried maff for a while, but don't think I had the volume for it to be useful. If you were running 5-6 times a week how long would you think each run would need to be for Maffetone to be a useful method?

 

I generally like to start my pre-season with a 3 month block of slow running. This typically comes off 4 to 6 weeks of no training, so I start off with 2 to 3km runs and build from there. At the end of the 3 month block I aim to be running around 70km per week. So by the end my run distances range between 7 and 14km.

 

During this period I tend not to schedule distances per day. Rather I run to how I'm feeling. If after a couple of kilometres I still feel crap, I'll turn around and make it a short run. When I feel great, I'll run further and if I'm just feeling OK I'll run somewhere in between. The key is run a distance that will finish with you still feeling OK and therefore able to run the next day. By eliminating the intensity and long runs, I'm able to build the mileage with a much lower risk injury. This builds up the leg strength making my 46yo body capable of handling the intensity and long runs in the next phase of training.

 

Maffetone advocates the low HR training for all disciplines, but I only apply it to running. During my 3 month base phase, I'll only do 1 ride per week (usually a long group ride on Saturday morning) and 2 swim squads per week where I generally focus on technique. This 3 month base focus with run focus works well, because it is generally over Winter (crappy weather in Melbourne) and I find running is the easiest thing to do when it is cold and raining.

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I think one of the other things a lot of people miss is that Maffetone doesn't ban you doing threshold/tempo/intervals etc, just advocates doing the majority of your training at his aerobic HR's. I recall him writing that once your aerobic pace plateaus you should do some harder intervals

 

edit to add. I found his MAF test (5km run at set HR) is pretty useful, safe easy and repeatable test of your aerobic running form. Same course, same time of day and similar temperatures etc.

Edited by Parkside
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Maffetone method is the bomb even though I never ran as much as prescribed mainly because I was just not strong enough to handle the volume. Still for a dead set nobody I managed some half decent times at the peak of my fitness.

 

These days I don't like the hr monitor on my hairy chest so I run on perceived stress only. Anything under hard breathing is aerobic, hard breathing is tempo, shit myself look is anaerobic which is very rare really. Don't like walking during runs, doesn't do it for me anymore even though I know it gives better results.

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