This morning I ran the Boston Marathon for the first time, it was such an incredible and fun experience! There were 30k participants and 1 million spectators cheering along the course, there was so much positive energy!
I ran an 11 minute PR in a time of 2:44:15. Here is a little post about it. The first part is about my marathon preparation, the second part dives into the race specifics.
Vitamix Blender to make epic vegetable shakes, great recovery drinks too!PREPARATION
There are a lot of different advanced marathon training programs out there. Many of these programs include aerobic runs + 3 to 4 times a week intervals, hill repeats and speed-work, every week.
I approached my marathon preparation different than this. I’m a huge fan of Heart Rate Monitor training with lots of aerobic (low heart rate) miles, inspired by Dr. Phil Maffetone. I approached this marathon by training mostly (94% of my total running time) at a lower heart rate (138-148 bpm or sometimes lower). Occasionally I added intervals or speed-work at higher heart rate (6% total running time). I choose this 138-148 bpm HR zone by using the 180 formula and by doing a blood lactate test. For the intervals I’d run 8 x 800’s, mostly on the track, occasionally on hills since Boston is hilly. A few times times I added some speed-work to simulated running on tired legs, by running a 20 miler and increasing the pace to marathon pace or faster the last 5 miles.
Here is a breakdown of my weekly miles:
|Week of||Total miles||Total time||Anaerobic runs||Anaerobic miles||Anaerobic time|
|Jan 5 – 11||54.9||6h 38 min||1||3||17 minutes|
|Jan 12 – 18||57.6||7h 46 min||2||9.5||42 minutes|
|Jan 19 – 25||66||8h 7 min||2||9||54 minutes|
|jan 26 – Feb 1||50.5||6h 20 min||2||8.5||72 minutes|
|Feb 2 – 8||43.8||5h 59 min||0||0||0|
|Feb 9 – 15||67.3||8h 40 min||0||0||0|
|Feb 16 – 22||75.2||9h 21 min||0||0||0|
|Feb 23 – Mar 1||64.1||9h 3 min||1||4.2||25 minutes|
|Mar 2 – 8||81.5||12h 0 min||2||14||82 minutes|
|Mar 9 – 15||52.5||6h 55 min||0||0||0|
|Mar 16 – 22||80.5||10h 0 min||1||5||31 minutes|
|Mar 23 – 29||81.6||11h 20 min||1||8||50 minutes|
|Mar 30 – Apr 5||30.2||4h 10 min||1||2.5||17 minutes|
|Apri 6 – 12||37.4||6h 0 min||2||8||52 minutes|
|Apr 13 – 19||16.9||2h 31 min||0||0||0|
|Total||860||114h 50 min||13||71.7||7h 22 min|
A lot of people train at a heart rate and pace that’s much too high and fast for them, this causes a lot of stress on their body along with higher chances of injuries which slows down improvements. Although there is something to be said about getting familiar with a fast pace and race pace, you don’t need to kill yourself with a bunch of intervals, hill repeats and speed-work to become a faster runner. In my opinion slowing down your pace on most of your runs will make your runs more enjoyable and injury free, then over time you’ll become a faster runner.
A few other things I did:
From my previous running experience, I knew that 75 – 80 miles per week was the maximum amount of miles that my body could handle. I didn’t want to spend more time away from work and family. Also, more than 80 miles per week would cut into my sleep, so it would have minimal return for me with an increased injury risk.
Double runs and 2 hour runs max
A few months ago I started running doubles and really liked it, because it is much less taxing on your body than running higher miles at once. A few times a week I’d run 5 miles in the morning and 11 miles at night. The short morning runs kickstart your metabolism and give you alertness during the day. The evening runs felt easier because my legs and body were already feeling warmed up.
When I trained for my 100 mile run from Long Beach to San Diego, I ran many long training runs of 3, 5 or even 7+ hours. For these ultra training runs it was more important to have time on my feet than speed. I aimed to run the Boston marathon under 3 hours, my goal was sub 2:45. After interviewing Phil Maffetone, he advised to keep your longest marathon training runs at 2 to 2 1/2 hours max. Running longer than this significantly increases your chances of injuries, with minimal improvements. My longest training run was 20 miles in 2 hours and 14 minutes.
Since I started getting into running 2 years ago, I’ve been injury free, however I’ve experienced tight ankles and calves. I took a step back and realized that the muscles, ligaments and tendons in my feet and ankles were underdeveloped, even though I run 8 – 12 hours a week. Having strong feet and ankles is part of a strong foundation.
For the past 2 months I decided to walk around barefoot as much as possible. I work from home, so most of my days I’m not wearing shoes or socks, until I go running or leave the house. After just a few weeks I started feeling a positive difference. It helped reengage the weak muscles and improved mobility, stability and strength in my feet and ankles.
Rest and recovery
It might sound backwards, but we get more of our training benefits from the recovery phase than from actually training. If we don’t get that recovery, we aren’t going to allow our body to naturally progress. Even in peak running weeks of 80 miles per week, I’d still take 1 day a week off from running. If I’d feel very tired or not motived to run, I’d take 1 or 2 days off. It’s amazing to feel completely recharged again after a short break and after getting enough sleep.
I haven’t changed much nutrition wise these past months. I’ve continued to avoid eating processed food and refined sugars, with occasional exceptions for things like sushi, ramen, pizza and beer! 🙂 I blend a lot of veggies in my Vitamix blender for daily veggie shakes.
MAF tests results + Blood Lactate Test results
Every month I track my running progress with a MAF test, you warm up 2 miles, then run 5 miles at your Max Aerobic Heart Rate (for me 148 bpm) and check your mile lap time:
|Date||5 miles average pace at max aerobic HR|
|5/13/13||8:21 min / mile|
|8/20/13||7:21 min / mile|
|4/27/14||6:54 min / mile|
|1/30/15||6:31 min / mile|
|3/19/15||6:17 min / mile|
|4/3/15||6:12 min / mile|
During my taper I took a Blood Lactate Test for running and it confirmed the heart rate zone I wanted to target during my marathon, in particular the 157-162 zone:
|LT (Lactate Threshold)||151 – 156 bpm||8.5 – 8.9 mph|
|AC (Advanced Conditioning)||157 – 162 bpm||9.0 – 9.6 mph|
|SST (Steady State Threshold)||163 – 165 bpm||9.7 – 9.8 mph|
Once I go over 162 bpm (even just a few beats) I’ve noticed that my breathing gets heavier and I’m not able to maintain this HR and pace for a longer period of time.
My strategy going into the Boston Marathon
My last 2 races I started too fast and suffered a lot at the end, this was in both my 100 miler and my 1/2 marathon in Amsterdam. For race day, the temperatures were going to be mid forties with a 12mph headwind at the start that picked up to a 21 mph wind at the finish, with high changes of rain. That’s 26.2 miles running against hard wind, definitely tough race conditions.
Here is the race strategy for the Boston marathon I wrote down beforehand:
My plan is to hold back the first 1/2 of the race at 6:15-6:20 min / miles and not go over 156-159HR. I’ll still run the downhills pretty fast because my HR should be pretty low downhill. Then mile 13 – 21 I’ll not go over 160 HR (occasionally up to 165HR on the hills), this will hopefully leave me with enough energy left to finish the last 5 miles strong, with a HR in the 160-170 zone.
I qualified for the Boston marathon with a 2:55:05 and was in wave 1, corral 3, the start time was 10am. Here is how it all went down:
I prepared for a crowded start, this was indeed the case, not much I could do about this.
- Mile 1 = 6:21 min / miles (warm up + people in the way, didn’t want to lose energy on zigzagging)
- Mile 2 – 13 = had to hold myself back here, averaged about 6:10 min / mile. I ran on effort, not letting my HR go over 160 to keep energy in the tank for later. There was a lot of headwind, so I tried to stick to a pack of runners and never ran on my own in the open. This made a huge difference of 20-30 seconds / mile effort-wise.
- Mile 13.1 = I ran the first 1/2 marathon in 1:20:59 and was feeling great.
- Mile 13 – 16 = So many people in the crowd, this helped keep the stoke levels high!
- Mile 16 = The Boston Hills, this is where the hard work started. I knew there were 4 hills in the next 5 miles, at mile 16, 17.5, 19 and 20. I slowed down the pace up the hills but not more than needed, my Heart Rate monitor was very helpful here so I wouldn’t go over 165 beats per minute. Although my pace slowed down to 6:47 min / mile at mile 21 (Heart Break Hill), it was ok because I had energy left to go fast the following miles.
- Mile 22 – 25 I had energy left to pick up the pace to around 6:00 – 6:10. My legs started to feel so heavy and I started running out of energy.
- Mile 25 – finish. My heart rate started to rise to 170+ and I knew I was in the red zone. Early on in mile 25 I started to see stars and bonking was near. I gave it one last push to cross the finish line and my legs pretty much gave out for a few seconds. A medic gave me an arm and walked with me for a bit. I checked my watch and it showed 2:44:15, I was so hyped!
Plans moving forward
Back to the trails!! I haven’t run many trails lately and definitely missed that a lot. Running fast on road is a lot of fun, but nothing beats a sunrise run with friends on a remote steep trail like the Santa Monica mountains, San Gabriel mountains or El Morro. In June I’m running up and down Mt Whitney with a few friends.
• Running a sub 3 hour marathon with a Go Pro
• How I trained to run a sub 3 hour marathon
• How I trained for my first 100 mile run from Long Beach to San Diego
Can't wait to connect with you on the other side!
Nice job. Your training works, to get a 2:44 on fairly low mileage, and in tough conditions.
Congratulations, Flo! I followed your race via text and was amazed seeing your splits, especially given the weather.
Thank you for this post and the rest regarding your journey here. They are inspirational and informative. Keep ’em coming!
Awesome! Great post and even better race result!
I am going to have to come back a couple of times to this post to really absorb all the useful info horded here. Congratulations Floris and keep running faster and faster!!
Been following you for over a year and amazing to see that you have worked the heart rate training to perfection. You remain an inspiration to many. Congrats.
I watched the video you did, I think it was at the new year, and thought it was really cool and I’ve been keeping an eye out for your posts on /r/Running. Your approach is fascinating, think I might have to invest in a heart rate monitor and see if your methods work for me. You don’t have any recommendations on which HRM to buy do you?
Well done Floris! Great result in tough conditions.
I also came to your blog through your video on running a sub 3 hour marathon which was really inspiring. I follow a similar training program to yours and managed to
break 3 hours for the first time at the Zurich marathon on Sunday.
Thanks for sharing all of those useful tips and enjoy getting back on the trails!
Thanks, Floris, for sharing. Great job! It proves your approach works.
Thank you John, I appreciate it! The conditions were tricky but I’m glad how things worked out. Cheers!
Cheers David, that’s cool you were able to follow the race via text. Glad to hear you found this post inspirational and informative. Have a good one!
Haha, thanks Sandeep! If any questions come up, just let me know. Hope all is well with you and the crew in India!
Wow thank you Sanjay, it’s still a work in progress, but I’m having a lot of fun with it 🙂 Have a good one!
Stoked to hear that Jamie! I think the Heart Rate Training can work really well for you, as long as you are patient and willing to slow down to improve in the long term. I use a Garmin 310XT watch (it’s a bit of an older model but works well) + the matching Garmin Heart Rate Monitor, the soft strap one. I’ve tried the Suunto watch with Polar HRM and really liked that one as well. Hope that helps! Cheers
No way, congrats on breaking 3 hours for the first time Jo, great job! Glad to hear you were able to use some of the tips! Have fun lowering your time again on your next marathon! 🙂
Thank you Oleg, there are a lot of different approached out there, I found the low Heart Rate training the most pleasant and enjoyable for me and I’m sure many others can get benefits out of it as well. Cheers!
I see your MAF is done at a heart rate of 148, which is 180 – 32 (age) = 148. Are you not suppose to add back 5 to your HR as PHIL says ” If you have been competing for more than two years duration without any of the problems listed above, and have improved in competition without injury, add 5″.
Yet your performance is stunning!!!
Wondering if i am running at too high a HR. I am 180 – 51 = 129 HR and then added back 5. HR 134….I have been training 1 year on 134 HR and have not seen significant improvement in my MAF scores and have a slight stiffness in my gluteus after a 2 hour run and mild pain in the achilles. I have gone from 5:43 per km to 5: 21 per km over a year. Seems super slow considering i average running 55k to 80k per week. Note that we go from hot to very hot conditions in Mumbai except for a couple of month where it cools to 20C. Let me know your thoughts. I can’t switch much now as i have Ironman Texas in 3 weeks put maybe need to look at reduce the Heart Rate level from 134 !!!!
You ran a great race Floris! I also really enjoy your youtube videos!
I have a few questions: Would you recommend running a half marathon 4 weeks prior to running a full marathon?.
I should also add that I will be running a 4 mile race on May 10th… would that be a better alternative to the half marathon to gauge performance?
To give you an idea of my fitness level: I have been running 70-80 miles the last month or so. A majority of my runs are at an easy pace (6:45 – 7:00 / mile easy runs) and I throw in some speed work / hill work in there. My last long run is tomorrow and I will be running 20 miles (14 easy and then 6 at marathon pace or faster).
Correction my last 20 mile long run is tomorrow. Not my last long run haha.
I love this post and your other one about about your qualifying time! My question is, do you have any plans you would recommend? I PR’d off the Phitz 18/55 plan and was thinking of upgrading to the 75mpw version while using some of your tips. Thanks for the post.
Hi Sanjay, good observation. Next month I’ve been running for two years without any injuries or breaks, so I can add 5 beats then. To be honest with you, my runs at 148HR go pretty fast already now (6:12 min / mile at last MAF test) so I will switch some runs to 153 BMP but not all.
Your HR of 134 sounds correct to me, I wouldn’t lower that number more. The tricky thing with running in the heat is that you dehydrate faster, so your blood gets thicker, this significantly increases your HR on runs (in other words, slows down your pace at MAF). Drinking enough water prior and during your runs is key, especially for you. You did shave off 22 seconds per kilometer in 12 months, that’s almost 10 minutes over the course of a marathon!!
A few other things you can look into are your stress levels in personal and work life. I think meditating consistently 10 minutes a day can make a huge difference here. Proper also nutrition plays an important part in improving your fat burning and aerobic base.
Stay patient and keep an eye on stiffness and mild pain. Instead of doing very long runs, cutting your runs up in more smaller runs is easier on your body as well. Have an epic Iron Man in 3 weeks, let me know how it was! Cheers
Thanks so much Bernhard, stoked to hear you enjoyed the videos! Sounds like you have been running some great high mile weeks leading up to your marathon!
4 weeks prior to a full marathon I typically run my last peak week with high mileage and a 20 mile long run negative split. Sounds like you just did your last 20 miler 2 days ago so that’s good!
I wouldn’t race a 1/2 marathon 4 weeks before your full marathon, but this also depends how hard you push yourself during this 1/2 marathon. To gauge my improvements I always use MAF tests, this aerobic test is so much less stressful on your body with pretty much no recover needed afterwards. There is a direct relation between your MAF tests results and your race results, so the faster your Max Aerobic Function pace, the better.
I race very little so I can focus on my A races 100%. Doing a 1/2 marathon about 6 weeks prior to your marathon gives you a bit more recovery time. Great way to train the water cups with Aid Stations too. If any other questions come up, just let me know. Have a great marathon in 4 weeks, keep me posted how it went! Cheers
Hi Tim, glad to hear that, thank you!
Prior to starting a plan for a race I think it’s super important to take at least 2 – 3 months to build a solid aerobic base with only running at low heart rate. Most people don’t have the patience to do this, but it will make a huge difference. Once your aerobic pace has dropped you can add some higher HR runs.
I have always created my own plans that change during a training cycle, depending on how I feel. For my Boston I wanted to peak at 75 miles, but noticed I could push this to 80 miles so I updated my plan. If I’d feel very tired or some weirdness in my body, I’d take 1 or 2 days off right away.
Almost all my runs are aerobic at 138 – 148HR, sometimes lower HR for recovery runs, with occasional Tuesday intervals or Saturday some miles at faster pace. Monday = my rest day.
I think that listening to your body is more important than sticking to a specific race training schedule. That being said, I’m creating a few flexible and very useful training schedules right now for my book “How to run a sub 3 hour marathon”.
If you PR’d off the 18/55 plan and you feel 75mpw is something your body can handle, give it a go! Have an epic next training cycle! Cheers,
Thanks Floris. There is no stress in my life and for the past 5 years been following Vedanta which is based on the truths of life. So am basically chilled. Have been on Phil’s diet for 13 months and cut out all the wheat and got into smoothies and salads etc. I set up some recipes based on Phil’s logic https://www.pinterest.com/tarladalal/recipes-for-runners-athletes-and-to-stay-very-lean/
Body fat is well under 9% and weight is sub 60 kg as i am training (134HR) and eating aerobic. This was achieved thanks to Phil’s diet and your blog which lead me to it. I am still amazed that you have achieved your speed at 148 HR while you could have been training at 153. Will keep you posted on my race.
Congrats on your Boston! Came across your blog while in the middle of marathon training. You mentioned hit wall at mile 18 during your first marathon and finished at 4:11:08. Do you remember your split? How fast you ran the first half and how you finished the last 8 miles after hitting the wall?
Thanks James! I tried to find this but don’t have the data anymore. All I could find was a link to my finish time, no splits. I think I was running 8:15 – 8:30 ish min / miles until mile 18, from there on it went downhill quick haha
I think the hot temperatures might then have something to do with it, since this will elevate your HR quickly. You’ve already shaved off 22 seconds per kilometer in 12 months, I’d just stick to that. You said you trained at 134 HR for a year. If you feel you’re hit a plateau in improving your performance, you can consider adding some intervals 15 – 30 minutes, 1 – 2 x a week for 3 – 4 weeks max. I’ve done this a few times after noticing I stopped improving and this helped me. Then after those few weeks I usually go back to aerobic only again. Have fun at your upcoming Ironman! Cheers
Congrats on the Boston time and your progression over the past few years. As you’re in your early 30’s, how is MAF training effectively used for those in late 40’s or 50’s? I’m guessing as they got in better shape, they too would begin to see the payoff and their aerobic paces become faster? It just seems for a 50 y.o. To go out and not exceed 130 HR seems a bit tough, especially in the summer months.
Say a 50 y.o. starts MAF and is able to run 9:15’s for 5M test. A few months later, 9’s. I’m guessing it would take quite some time for this runner to get down to 7:30’s using the method?
My time was 2:56:01! Guess I’ll be running Boston next year! Now to see if I can run a 2:45:00 or less haha. Cheers!
I think you would find that with diet, rest and stress at best they can be for your own circumstances, you should be able to improve. I am 46, almost 47 and am around 7:15 @ MAF. For example,I ran 18miles Sunday average HR 139 @ 7:22min/mi average pace (off-road, undulating). Most runs are also done in Vibram FF.
As Flo and Dr Maffetone have frequently implied , patience and consistency are key. On a bike I have to work very hard to stay in my MAF zone (139bpm)
Good luck and make changes slowly to allow your body to adapt.
Hi James, I totally agree with what Mark already wrote. You should be able to improve while training in the correct HR zones, by using a healthy diet, taking enough rest and keeping your stress levels under control. Keep in mind that as you get older your HR decreases, so although 130 might seem like a low HR number, that is indeed the correct HR.
My parents are 62 and they train at 118, although my mom gets frustrated and impatient sometimes because she has to take walk breaks, something she never used to do. Patience and consistency is indeed key. If you can consistently get out there 3 or 4 times a week, doesn’t even have to be for that long, 20 – 40 minutes is already great, and train in that 120 – 130 zone, you should start seeing improvements. Some people shave off almost 60 second in the first 30 days of MAF training, others shave off less or take longer to see improvements. Just stick to it and enjoy the process.
If you have any other questions, just let me know, I’m here to help.
Thanks and cheers,
Flo and Mark –
Thanks for the replies.
Mark, how long have you been using this method and what were your baselines prior to beginning?
I think I’ll give it a shot these next few months and see what happens. Like Mark, I can get thru an 18m at 139 HR, but a good minute slower per mile.
Cool, give it a go James and keep me posted about your progress. I’m always curious to hear! Cheers
Floris, thank you so much for creating such a powerful and helpful blog. I loved reading your running methods, nutrition and training plan. It is is great detail and I love the pictures too!
My dream is to run the Boston. My last two half marathons I ran a 2:22:43 and a 2:15:44. Today, I enrolled in 8 month training program. How realistic it is that I can achieve a 3:40 or better by March’s marathon race for Boston qualification? Thank you for your feedback. I really love your blog. I look forward to purchasing your e-book!
It has been a great inspiration to follow your training and results!
I have been training after the 180 formula for 1 year now and just began a LCHF diet (kind of what Maffetone suggests and that you are doing).
I’m going for a marathon Sub 3 hour attempt this fall but I’m a bit unsure if I should carboload before the contest now that I’m not used to carbs in my daily diet. What did you do there?
How do you’r stomach react to the gels under the marathons?
It’s a bit hard starting a LCHF diet while running 80 km a week but I hope I will get some more enrgy when I’m more fat adapted 🙂
Michael from Denmark
Great to hear from you and sorry for my late response! That’s an exciting dream to have! Great job on your two half marathons already. 8 months is a good amount of time to get in good shape for a marathon, however keep in mind that patience is key.
Running a half marathon is an entire different experience than running a full marathon. I’m not sure if you’ve ran 1 or more marathons before, but qualifying for the Boston marathon takes a lot of hard work. I’d say be patient and focus on improving your endurance slowly over time and enjoying the process of running. By the time your March marathon race comes around you can see if you’re ready for a 3:40, but don’t beat yourself up if you’re not ready for that time yet. There is always another race. The Boston marathon will not go anywhere and will be there again next year! 🙂
All the best with your training and if any other questions come up, just let me know.
Great to hear all the way from you in Denmark! That’s good you’ve already been training with the 180 formula for a year now, that will come in very beneficial for your sub 3 hour attempt.
I don’t carb load at all. Before all my races I eat what I normally eat for dinner, a lot of mixed veggies with some steak, chicken or fish. That’s where long training runs of 20 miles / 32k come in handy. Test out exactly what dinner works well for you the night before a race.
If your aerobic base is well developed, you should be burning fat well, this will reduce your risk of bonking, however you’ll need to train with what to eat the night before, the morning off and during the race.
My stomach works well with gels, I take a GU every 25 minutes. During my 100 mile run I ate about 25 gels and was fine.
Don’t go too crazy on the LCHF diet either and make sure you get enough calories and don’t go hungry, I still eat beans, lentils or quinoa to make sure I feel full, especially during high milage weeks.
Hope that helps. If any more questions come up, just let me know, I’m here to help!
Thx for you’r quick reply and advice 🙂
This diet is a whole new world for me, so I have to rethink my running a bit and there aren’t that much on how you prepare for a race food-vice.
I have only been on the diet for a week now ,and my mood have been much better. I already lost 2 kg even though I have been eating a lot of fat, meet and veggies. I haven’t been this slim since I was 13 or something (went from 78 kg to 76 and im 190 cm).
Biggest problem is that my running is REALLY hard. My pulse is about 10 beats higher than normal and my legs are heavy. Did you experience the same?
I think its my body being stressed about turning from carbo- to fat burning and I hope, my speed will come back in my legs soon…
I read both Maffetones big Book of Endurance and 1:59 and in both books he talks about taking a bit more healthy carbs before a contest like honey and applejuice. Did you do that or do you take a gel right before start?
Thanks again for helping me and good luck with your training 🙂
Your body is definitely adapting, this does take some time. Patience is key here. If running is really hard, slow down your pace. Over time your body will adapt and become a better fat burner. First time I tried cutting out bread all together, my body didn’t know what happened, I was very low on energy and grumpy. Once you get over this, it will feel much better.
I practice my pre-race nutrition many times during 20 mile training runs, that way there are no surprises on race day. I’m sure the honey and apple juice works well for some. I do take a gel right before the start of a marathon, then every 25 minutes after that. I’ve trained that way, so I know it works well for me. I highly recommend training with your nutrition so you see what works best for you.
Have fun with your upcoming race. If any other questions come up, just let me know.
I have now been living low carb / LCHF for 2½ month and feeling great – will never go back to the old carb days 🙂
After 2-3 weeks my energy came back and I’m now running all my training (even intervals) on fat and at the same speed as before.
Been using a energy product called SuperStarch for “carboloading” before races – can highly recommend it since it doesn’t give the same insulin reaction as traditionel energy products and thereby doesn’t interfere with your fatburning.
Hey Floris, I hope you are well, and thank you again for this wonderful blog.
I am just re-reading this post and have one question. I see that when you had your blood lactate test done that your LT HR was 151-156bpm. Does that mean that you could technically train at up to 151 bpm and still obtain aerobic gains?
I ask because I recently had my LT measured and it occurs at 154 bpm, so am wondering whether to raise my aerobic runs to around 151/ 152 bpm (I have been generally training at 148/149 bpm). When I run at 151/152 it does seems ok breathing wise and I tend to be able to hold my form.
Would be interested to hear your views. Keep up the great work!
Hey Flo, thanks for the tips! We’ve only done about 4 months of MAF, lost 6% body fat, 4 kilos and bid my best time @ Berlin 2015 (3:14:08), Boston qualified… best of all I feel great!! Kudos for MAF.. Next goal under 3 @ Boston!! Thank you.
How did you week looked like in terms of training? How did you split your weekly mileage?
How long was your “long run”?
Many thanks and keep up the good work 🙂
Firstly, thanks for providing such good content and information regarding heart rate based training – it’s very eye opening and extremely interesting to see a personal account of how somebody has experienced such positive results from this technique.
I’ve been MAF’ing for a couple of months now and loving a new twist on training – my body feels fresh and I feel great after each run.
I just have a question about race heart rate. I understand that you’ve done blood lactate testing etc, but without doing that, what heart rate would you advise racing at? For example according to the MAF formula I train at 143 – 153. Should I race at 154 – 159? 160 – 165? What would you recommend?
Also, would it be detrimental to have a training session out of my MAF zone and try out a race pace to see how I feel? It’s a bit of an odd distance but my next race is a “1/3 marathon” (8.75mi) and i’d feel apprehensive going into it having not replicated a race-pace effort in training. Thoughts?
Thanks so much again, it’s been a really interesting journey on MAF so far and it’s all down to stumbling across this blog!
Great to hear from you, that’s a good question. I’d stick with the lower HR of the 2. Although you will still obtain aerobic progress, I prefer to train with a lower than higher HR.
Hope that helps answer your question.
Congrats on your Boston Qualification and great marathon PR in Berlin! Keep up your MAF runs and you totally got the sub 3! If you have any questions at all, let me know, I’m here to help.
For my Boston training I run 55 – 80 miles per week. I prefer to take Mondays off as full rest days. Tuesday – Friday I ran every day from 5 to 16 miles per day (during higher mile weeks I’d run doubles, 5 miles in the am, 11 miles at night). Usually Saturday would be my long run, anywhere from 12 to 20 miles. I prefer my long runs not to be over 2 – 2.5 hours. Sunday I’d run as many miles as needed to hit my weekly goal.
Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, let me know.
Glad to connect with like minded runners like you who also benefit a lot from MAF approach to running. That is a great question about what HR you should race at if you train at MAF, without taking LT test. It’s tricky to answer, since everyone’s body is different.
For example my LT test showed that soon after 9.8 mph (6.07 min mile) I start to lose aerobic efficiency shown by lactate rising more rapidly and going above 4 mmol. That’s at a HR just above 165bpm. Other runners are able to run an entire marathon at 180 bpm or higher.
The best thing to do here is test. Go on a 20 mile run. I highly recommend you try to negative split your race, so you start slower than you think you should be going in first 1/2, then you have energy left in 2nd half of your race. If you train at 153, then run a 20 mile test run at HR up to 160, see how it feels. If you have a lot of energy left at the end, you can pick up your pace the last 6 miles. Or on your 20 mile training run, you can try a slightly higher HR and see how you feel after 20 mile.
Another test run I like a lot is 15 miles at aerobic pace, then last 5 miles at marathon pace, or 30 seconds faster than marathon pace.
Don’t be afraid to run anaerobic or do some shorter races sometimes, that’s totally fine.
Hope that helps!
Floris, thanks for being an inspiration! Quick question, is there a specific training program(s) that you used such as Hal Higdon’s? Should I download programs such as the 10-12 weeks training schedule layout but apply MAF? I hope that make sense…
Thank you for your nice comment Mr. Saechao. I haven’t used a specific training program for marathons, instead I created my own guidelines with available days for me to run. A few things that apply: typically I’d build for 2 – 3 months of only aerobic runs. After a while when I notice my MAF test pace not improving much anymore, I’d add some intervals or speedwork. Weekly mileage increase with 10% max for 3 weeks, then 1 stepback week of lower volume. For me weekends are long runs, Mondays day off, Tuesday lower miles getting back into it (or good day for intervals when needed), Wednesday bit longer midweek run, Thursday low miles, Friday rest of more aerobic miles, going into the weekend well rested for higher miles again. Programs like Hal Higdon’s are pretty strict, I prefer a bit more flexible program. I’m working on a few downloadable programs that I can add to this site in the coming months. Cheers!
Thx for your advice. God bless.
Flo, let me start by saying you are a beast – congrats on such a great Boston!
I stumbled upon your post about the sub-3 about three months before a marathon in Jan. 2015, and beat my old PR by 16 minutes after (generally) following the MAF approach those last months. The next marathon (Nov. 2015) I didn’t really follow the dietary guidelines, and sure enough my time suffered (although I PR’d, it was only 9 seconds faster, 3:02:27, than the previous). I also was probably training at too low of a heartbeat according to Dr. Maffetone’s formula.
I’ve got one coming up in September, 2016 and am doing much better about the dietary aspect of it. I have gone from an 8:07 MAF to a 7:26 MAF in one month, and am hopeful that the results will continue to improve.
I have just one question for you, about intra-run heartbeat ranges. I find occasionally I slip upwards of my max aerobic rate of 148 (I’m 32) on general runs, as I live in a hilly area. It’s usually no more than 5 minutes of an hour, but I’m curious how religiously you apply the rule – if I run 6 runs in a week, and my total time run above 148 is about 10%, do you think it matters if I’m going upwards of 148 bpm on most runs (albeit for a very short period of time on each run)? I’ve not really seen an answer to this question on this or Phil Maffetone’s website. Thanks and cheers for your awesome and inspirational blog!
For most runners, this is where the race begin. The hills and represent for the biggest challenges the marathoners will face in their career. For me, this is where my race ended. It was clear that whether I was running up, down, or on the flats, I was in trouble.
Did you include warm up & cool down in your total training time?
Awesome job on your Boston – very inspirational. I do the MAF approach as well and trying to qualify for Boston! Enjoy the journey getting back into running!
Hi Dan, stoked to hear from you and sorry for my late reply. Sounds like you just ran your September marathon already, I hope it went really well. You’re PR-ed last time already so close to sub-3!! Going over MAF in training runs is totally fine, I’d just try to keep majority of your runs in the range of MAF and 10 beats below MAF. For me the best way to try and stay below MAF is by setting an alarm on your watch at MAF HR, so you don’t have to keep looking at your watch. Keep me posted on your last race, very curious to hear how it went! Cheers, Flo
Hi Phil, yes I include warm up and cool down in my total training time. Both warm up and cool down are very important parts of training. Many runners start too fast, increasing chances of injuries. I typically start off with a mellow walk for a few minutes, before jog and slowly increasing pace.
Good to hear you’re following the MAF approach as well, it can help you on your journey to qualify for Boston. Enjoy your journey and if any other questions come up, let me know, I’m here to help. Cheers
Fantastic blog and Boston race report, thank you for putting it out there. I was wondering if you had any guidance to the 10am start at Boston and nutrition beforehand. It is my first Boston this year. Thanks for any advice.
Hi Brian, that’s exciting you’re racing Boston soon! For nutrition I’d stick to whatever has previously worked before your long runs. You typically have plenty of time from when you wake up until when your race starts, so I’d make sure you have enough calories in your system before you start. If you wake up at 6am, I’d eat your breakfast, but then probably around 9 or 9:30 I’d top it off with a banana, almonds, or whatever works for you for a pre run / race snack. Hope that helps, have fun out there, it’s a fantastic experience! Cheers
Legend- thank you!!
Glad for the info. I just ran my first marathon, at age 60, and finished with a 3:20. so I easily qualified for Boston. I’m pumped, already making plans for Boston. Wondering if I am capable of finishing a 3 hour marathon at my age.
Love your article. Stumbled on it last week. Started training for my first ever marathon this week. Can you email me so I can lay out my plan so you can answer any questions I have on the heart rate training? I added you on strava also earlier.
I also love your posts, since I saw a Youtube video in February. Personally, I ran quite a lot in 2012-2013 with marathons in 3:11, 3:01 and 2:57. Always with plans from Herbert Steffny (Germany), who also focuses on LSD and a healthy life-style. I am 46 now and always stayed fit, but without too much running (between 0-30km/week). I started too run with Steffny again in January and performed better than expected in Hamburg (3:06, 28 April 2019). Because of this result, some younger colleagues challenging me and the many encouraging stories on your site, I will try a personal best in Köln (13.10.2019). Yesterday I did my first MAF-test: 6:47, 6:54; 6:59, 7:00, 7:02. Could you comment on Steffny (if known to you) and give some personal advice? Info: 87kg for 1,96m; ran my last marathon at HR 145, half (1:26:48) at 148 and 10km (39:30) at 152.I trained my LSDs at HR 123-128, because it ‘felt’ right.
I really enjoy watching your videos and interviews. I have been following the low heart rate training and I noticed that my MAF was the same as the low aerobic zone predicted by my Garmin 630. I recently ran a half marathon and afterwards my Garmin watch reset my low aerobic zone to a slightly higher level. Do you think it would be safe to train at this new level? The top end of this zone has gone from 127 to 133 BPM.