Friday, July 25, 2014

Maffetone Training: What the Hell is That?

Over the last week, a lot of my running buddies have asked me, "What the heck is that Maffetone training thing you are doing?"  After a little explanation, the next question is usually, "Why?"

I've read so much about Maffetone training that it's second nature to me. I don't even imagine others might not know about Phil Maffetone. I've written about him and his ideas on this blog several times. Here's a good summary from me in 2008:

Maffetone Heart Rate Training

And for a little more in-depth explanation, check out Phil Maffetone himself in this interview from Runner's Connect:

I also strongly encourage you to read his most recent book, The Big Book Of Endurance Training and Racing. It "replaces" or summarizes many of his older books all in one place. Pretty cheap at Amazon--about $16 for the actual book, $13 on Kindle.

All of the above (my old blog post, video, and book) explain his system. The core belief is that we need to run at a very easy aerobic heart rate based on 180-age (with some minor up/down adjustments). That formula will give your MAXIMUM aerobic HR. Don't exceed it. Yes, it'll feel too easy and you'll be going rather slow. Things will improve!

Why run at this low heart rate? It's low impact and low stress, efficient, encourages fat-burning, decreases stress hormones, and increases aerobic fitness. Low chance of injury, high chance of better aerobic fitness. Win-win. It will not get you into amazingly fast running shape quickly. This is a long-term commitment. Many people won't hang in there. If that's your personality, then I encourage you to think about rotating training cycles with Maffetone style training for 3 months, then your "typical" training (that might include intervals, tempos, hill repeats, or fartleks) for 3 months. Aerobic-Anaerobic. Maffetone builds the body up, the higher HR training sharpens, but also destroys. You might find a mix that is synergistic. True converts stick with Maffetone and slowly build their aerobic fitness over months and months and the improvements can be continued for years (without annoying set-backs).

You'll be surprised how much better you feel using the Maffetone program. You sleep better, recover faster, nagging injuries fade away, you run more miles (or minutes), and slowly get faster at the same low heart rate.

Anyway, I decided to switch over to Maffetone low-heart rate training because I was getting injured with the fast tempo runs and the pressure to "perform" was putting stress on me (physically and mentally). Maffetone is low stress! In one week, I've already seen positive changes. More running miles. Lower resting heart rate (RHR). Better heart rate variability (HRV). Better sleep. My slow paces are even improving--slightly.  I promised myself to give it 3 weeks (then race Howl at the Moon 8-hour ultra). I'm done with week one and feeling great. Hope the next 2 weeks go just as well. I have confidence they will. After Howl at the Moon, I'll return to Maffetone training and hope to see continued improvements. Give it a try!

Friday, July 18, 2014

21.5 Days Until Howl 8-Hour Ultra

I only have 21.5 days until the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour ultra race. I'm not ready. Let me say that again, I am not ready. My last long run was a 13 miler on June 14th. I've had a few 7 milers since then, but most runs have been 3-5 miles. That does not prepare you for an 8-hour race! I should have several 15-20 milers in there. Yikes.

On the good side, my right knee is behaving much better. I'd say about 95% healed. It doesn't worry me anymore. On race day, in three weeks, it should be fine. Still, I am worried about my mileage base. With three weeks to go, I need to ramp up total mileage and get in at least a few 13-18 mile runs. I need endurance and efficient fat-burning. Plus, some heat training. My plan is to increase the distance and slow the pace of my everyday runs (going back to Maffetone style training: 180-age for max HR on a run). Maybe I can get in about 50 miles each of the next 2 weeks (with at least one "long run" of 13+ miles).  More slow jogging, with some walking breaks, might allow me to extend the long runs to 18-20 miles. I don't want a new injury, or a re-injury of my knee. Two weeks of solid training, with a one week taper, might do the trick. Might. Might not. I'll know on August 9. Wish me luck.

Time to enjoy the long runs. They are my friends. Endurance builds, speed kills.

Friday, July 11, 2014

Running Goals for Rest of 2014

After the harsh winter weather impeded my training, this spring started off pretty lame. I skipped several races and DNF'd another. Then things began to turn around. I got some reasonable miles in, started speed work, and improved my training paces. Then...I got greedy, or stupid, or both. I ran way too fast on the treadmill and injured my knee. That was 3 weeks ago. I'm about 95% healed. Now I'm thinking about the rest of 2014.

JULY. Just hang on! I'm barely over the knee injury. This month will simply be a time to regain fitness and aerobic capacity. Lots of easy runs. Hopefully those runs will be getting longer and longer as I approach August 9.

AUGUST. In 4 weeks (August 9), I have the Howl at the Moon 8-Hour Ultra. The largest timed ultra in the country! It's normally my "big event" for the year. I'm not ready, but it'll still be pretty epic. No personal records this year. But, the race will be challenging and filled with fun and friends. I'll definitely rack up enough miles to add another ultra to my tally sheet (this will be #93).

SEPTEMBER. After Howl on August 9, I'm not sure what comes next. I've deleted several races from my proposed schedule: Evergreen Lake 34 miler, Farmdale 30 miler, McNotAgain 30 miler, and Across the Years 24-Hour. Also, no Seattle Ghost Marathon. I will likely run ONE race in September--either the Rock Cut Hobo 50K (if I'm in good shape) or the local "yet to be announced" Last Man Standing. Rock Cut is a fairly easy 50K trail race in Rockford, IL. The Last Man Standing event would be on my local trail and consist of a 5-mile loop run every 55 or 60 minutes until only one runner is left competing (I'm lobbying for the 2.6 mile loop every 30 minutes). I'd probably knock off 30+ miles. Whether it's Rock Cut Hobo or the Last Man Standing, it'll be another ultra. Call it #94.

OCTOBER. This is reserved for my running bet with Joe. We'll do the RNR St Louis Half-Marathon on October 19. He needs to run 1:50, I need to run 1:35. I plan to dedicate about 4-5 weeks to speed training before the race. Enough time to make a difference, but not so long I'll get injured.

NOVEMBER. I'll recover quickly from the half-marathon, then re-start aerobic training. I've already registered for the Tunnel Hill 50 miler on November 15. Lots of friends are running. I'll be ready. This could be a new personal record for the distance! And ultra/marathon #95.

DECEMBER. No races. Intend to recover from the 50-miler and regain basic aerobic fitness. I'll start a new marathon training plan in mid-December to prepare for my Illinois Marathon in late April. That will be a BQ attempt. My secret weapon? The Hansons Marathon Method. I'll blog about that in the future...and keep people updated during the training. I'm excited.

Friday, July 4, 2014

"Time of Day" Running

I am currently practicing "time of day" running. It has nothing to do with WHEN I run, but more how I run. Doesn't matter if it's morning, noon, afternoon, or evening. Weekday or weekend. Dawn or dusk. What does matter is the "how" of running. I run with my fancy Garmin GPS watch set to "Time of Day" display. Nothing else. The watch still records time, distance, pace, elevation change, heart rate, etc. But it only shows "time of day." This way I run BY FEEL and effort, without any other distractions. I don't check my heart rate or pace. I just run. Much easier to stay focused on how I feel and adjust accordingly. No pressure to hit certain heart rates or paces. Afterward, I download all the statistics and look them over. I can track changes over time or from day to day. But during the run, it's just me running. Simple. I hope this new method will keep me internally focused and injury free.