Wednesday, March 14, 2018

Baseline MAF Test

With my right knee injured a couple of weeks ago (due to running too fast), I figured it was a good time to ratchet back my training and build a good aerobic base. Why not try Maffetone style training for a bit? I won't go into the details of his approach, but it's based on keeping a low heart rate during exercise (max=180-age, with possible minor adjustments). Your MAF heart rate is usually pretty low and the subsequent running pace rather slow. That's the idea--keep yourself in a relaxed, fat-burning zone. With time, you will run faster at that same low heart rate. To track progress, or regression, he suggests a MAF (maximum aerobic function) test about once/month. That means running in a controlled environment at your MAF heart rate for 3-5 miles. You should see faster mile times as the weeks progress. And the slowing from mile to mile within a workout should also decrease. That means you are getting more aerobically fit. If you stagnate or get worse, something is wrong (illness, stress, too much hard training, racing, etc).

Today I ventured to the gym, jumped on a treadmill and did a 1-mile warm-up, then 2 miles at MAF heart rate (for me, 180-age+5). The "real" MAF test is usually longer, but this shorter routine still allows me to track first mile pace and slow down from mile 1 to mile 2. And it keeps me interested. MAF miles can be boring.

Here are my statistics for this baseline test:

  • Mile 1 = 8:15
  • Mile 2 = 8:33
  • Change in pace: 18 seconds

Last time I did a MAF test was in July 2016. Here's my related blog post. I didn't keep it going that summer. I plan to have regular updates this spring and summer. Hopefully that first mile will get faster with time and the difference between miles will also be reduced (fatigue will produce a slower mile, but the fitter you are, the less change you'll see).

Monday, March 5, 2018

I'm Injured!

Winter training was going pretty well. No long runs, but consistent training (often indoors) with a variety of paces. Nothing too crazy. No injuries. No illness. A little boredom. Maybe a bit too much boredom? I decided to start speedwork so I would be ready for the upcoming Pi Run (3.1415 miles). Bad decision. I injured myself by pushing too hard on the treadmill. Sub-6:30 pace was a tad too much. Right knee is now very achy. Walking hurts. Rolling over in bed hurts. Getting up from the sofa hurts. I'll eventually be better, but I will not be racing the Pi Run next weekend. Stupid runner. When will I learn? Speed kills. Slow distance heals.

Tuesday, February 20, 2018

Why Pay $100+ for Running Shoes?

Truth for the day: runners buy a lot of stuff. Considering we basically only need a pair of shoes, shorts, and a shirt, we seem to purchase a ton of extra running-related gear. I'm no different. In addition to "running stuff," I also buy a lot of shoes. A real lot. Too many pairs. But I never pay $100 or more for a pair of running shoes. Truth be told, I once paid ~$150 for a pair of Hokas. Never again. I have migrated (for 5+ years) to Skechers Performance running shoes. They retail around $85-$110, but can always be found on sale somewhere on the web. I normally pay $55-$65. Sometimes less than $50. Three pairs for what I paid for one pair of Hokas! I simply don't understand how runners can pay so much for a pair of shoes. I rotate several Skechers models based on primary use (trail, easy, tempo, racing, etc). When they reach about 400 miles, I retire them to walking shoes. My current models are:

  • GoRun 5 (slightly faster runs, plus treadmill)
  • GoRun Ride 6 (everyday easy runs)
  • GoRun Ultra Road 2 (long runs, road or easy trails)
  • GoTrail 2 (trail stuff)
  • GoMeb Razor (tempo and races)

All of the Skechers shoes are relatively light-weight, flexible, with a wide toe box. Fairly low-drop and nicely cushioned. Plus inexpensive. What's not to like? Why pay more? If I save money on shoes, then I can buy more other running stuff. 

I'm not sponsored by Skechers, but if Meb and Kara want company as spokespeople, I am available!

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Back to Aerobic Base-Building

I've been doing a lot of faster running in the last 2 months. Mostly due to being inside to avoid bad weather. One consequence of treadmill running, at least for me, is running faster and shorter. Time flies when you are pushing the pace! I hate long runs on the treadmill. So I've been doing lots of intervals and tempo runs. Nothing wrong with that, but I need to get back to easy aerobic running to build a nice base. The easier runs will build aerobic endurance and increase my fat-burning. Sometime in mid-March I'll start to throw in faster running again in preparation for the Illinois half-marathon at the end of April.

For now, my "easy" running will be with a heart rate of 140 or less. This is slightly faster than Maffetone-style running, but it is still fairly easy and fits in well with Friel and Fitzgerald zones that are based on lactate threshold. My LT HR is around 161. Take 89% of that as "top of easy" and I get HR=143. To be safe, I'll set my watch for 140 as the peak training heart rate. The average HR for most runs will be around 130-135. Injury-free running!