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MAF Training, everything is connected

By June 26, 2021 One Comment
MAF running, everything is connected

Hello, Floris Gierman here. Today I want to share several thoughts on MAF low heart rate training, running in hot weather, the 180 formula accuracy and more.

If you want to become faster, without the injuries, there is a lot of info here. 

MAF stands for Max Aerobic Function. The concept of MAF training is focused on working out mostly at an aerobic intensity. So you train to let your body use mostly body fat for energy, instead of sugar (glycogen). 

Many athletes train too often at an intensity that is too high, resulting in: 

  • Frequent injuries, such as runner’s knee, achilles tendinitis, shin splints, plantar fasciitis, etc.
  • Hitting the wall in a race, due to poorly developed aerobic functions 
  • Not progressing in training, because the body can’t recover well 
  • Feeling tired or burned out, before, during or after a workout
  • No joy in your workouts, because too much high intensity can be very challenging

There are different ways to calculate what heart rate intensity to train at for aerobic runs. 

The MAF 180 formula developed by Dr Phil Maffetone, is one formula that many athletes use and have success with. 

More info about the 180 formula calculation in this video I recorded a while back

Most athletes have to slow down significantly in the early stages of MAF training to keep their HR in their MAF zone, especially when there are other elements involved, such as hills, heat and humidity. 

The most common response I hear: 

“I have to run so slow, it is very frustrating, I even have to take walk breaks (and even pace myself then) to keep my heart rate below the calculated MAF threshold level”.

I totally understand the challenge and frustration. You are absolutely not alone in this. I would say 95% of runners I come across have to slow down significantly. 

Another common response: 

“The MAF 180 formula does not work for me, because I don’t even feel I’m working out much”. 

Once again, I understand this concern and many athletes feel this way. From my experience coaching many athletes over the years, the 180-formula gives a good ballpark training number for most athletes. 

Even if this 180 formula is not 100% accurate for your specific situation (due to things like a high max heart rate, you’re an athlete of 55+), the concept of slowing down your training intensity will help you: 

  • Work out consistently with minimal wear and tear on your body, reducing injury risk.
  • You finish a workout with energy left in your tank.
  • You strengthen your muscles, tendons, ligaments, joints and bones. 
  • You stimulate your aerobic system instead of your anaerobic system.

If further personalization is needed, there are always ways to tweak the 180-formula and personalize it, or visit a medical lab for an individualized test. 

Running in hot and humid weather 

This will slow down your aerobic running pace, because your body uses more energy to cool itself down and less energy to move you forward. 

Advice for hot weather running: 

  • Run early in the morning or late at night, don’t run during the heat of the day
  • Run indoors on a treadmill you might want to consider joining a local gym for a few summer months, or buying a treadmill
  • Adjust your pace according to effort level, this probably means: slow down your pace! When the temperature becomes too high in most runners, the brain subconsciously tells your muscles that you are tired, so you either slow down or stop running altogether. With less effort, your body will produce less heat.
  • Standing in the shade and in the wind can help speed up this cool down process, preventing heatstroke.

So when training, keep your effort levels under control. Even at a slower running or walking pace, you’re still getting a great workout in.

Here is a detailed video on training and racing in hot weather.

Everything is connected 

Many athletes only focus on the running component of training. For this holistic training approach to work, you have to pay close attention to all other factors in your life as well, such as the right nutrition, limiting your stress levels, the right mindset, allowing enough time for rest and recovery. 

All these elements are connected. If you eat junk food often, your running performance is going to suffer. 

With a negative mindset about frequent frustrations in training, you are not doing yourself any favors. 

If you are stressed out of your mind, your fat burning will be impaired. 

Learning how to listen well to the feedback and signals of our bodies is key. 

Small steps and gradual progress over time can lead to massive progress in the long term. 

My website and YouTube channel has free content available.  

Want additional help to become faster and run without injuries? Check out our running coaching program at http://www.pbprogram.com. This Personal Best Program is a proven, structured training program that guides you every step of the way to optimize your training, racing, and life.  

You won’t find this anywhere else, 20+ hours of my best video content—uniquely developed workbooks and training schedules based on heart rate. You also get, Zoom coaching calls with Floris Gierman and other coaches to troubleshoot any challenges. Plus, access to a highly engaged community of like-minded athletes.

For athletes of all levels and ages, for 5k, 10k, half marathon, marathon, and ultra distances. Save time by learning from my mistakes, skip the overwhelm, and avoid being distracted by all the info and opinions you’re bound to come across. Learn more at http://www.pbprogram.com

Wishing all the best on your running and health journey. 

Cheers, 

Floris

Flo

Flo

One Comment

  • Cory Trusty says:

    Thank you. I enjoyed this page, especially the video about heat training. I try to remember to have some ice chips before I start a run, because I live in Florida where it is hot.

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