Running is supposed to be simple…right.
It seems, for me recently that it is anything but.
I know that I need to change a my training style to include more “slower” running than I have been doing. Just the way it is, I am not getting any younger and constantly running an average pace of around 8:30 per mile most weeks just is not sustainable at 61.
Finally, I am getting this getting old crap through my head.
Yeah, it sucks and I will fight it every step of the way.
So that meant today’s run was going to be another heart-rate based one. After all my whining, pissing and moaning about heart-rate training last night, I have done a LOT of reading about MAF based training, its pros/cons and figuring out that while the heart-rate training gets most of the attention (as it should in the endurance community), it is much more than just “running slow”.
From what I could tell from reading Maffetone’s posts on the website, reading the “take a look” available from Amazon for his books, other runner’s blogs, the Facebook groups and articles that I could find, MAF training is more about changing your life than simply running slower to run faster.
I even downloaded the app to use and learned that my Max Heart-Rate according to it was 124 bpm. Now that stressed me out, because I have pretty good idea of what my pace would need to be for that heart-rate and that just wasn’t what I wanted from my running.
My running does more for me than simply a way to stay in shape. It is a part of who I am.
When I got to looking closer, I was looking into doing some of what Maffetone was suggesting before I really started to look at the MAF training. So while I have a problem with how low the max heart rate zone is for a 60 something guy who trains faster than the paces I can run at those MHRZ. Hell, walking back up the hill with Bennie to the house tonight, my heart-rate was higher than the 124 bpm that is my supposed max aerobic pace.
Okay, other than that I can get onboard with most of the other stuff – reasonably well.
Then my friend Sam and Mike (a couple of runners I know)gave me some good advice when I shared my whining about the max heart-rate yesterday on Facebook.
Their suggestions made more sense to me than strictly following the MAF recommendations. Dr. Maffetone is much more experienced and a helluva lot smarter about this stuff than I will ever be. At the same time my running is important to me and feeling like I am running is more important to me than what my heart-rate is.
For me to run at 124 bpm, I would be over 11:00, probably closer to 12:00 minutes per mile, which for me is unacceptable. Just the way it is.
I am not being an arse and yes, I know some runners would love to run that fast, but that does not meet my expectations that I have for myself as a runner. I have been a competitive runner all my life and those paces just not a part of my running yet.
It is a mindset thing and I just am not ready to flip the switch yet. So I will follow Sam’s and Mike’s advice and not turn the heart-rate into a “conversion” quite yet. I will set my Garmin High HR alert to 135 bpm and not get too stressed or worried about the heart-rate.
The other thing is that I will look closer into the lifestyle changes that the MAF training method brings to the table and take the things that I can use and incorporate it into my life. There is a lot of good stuff there.
Now to get to today’s run.
It was about as perfect as I will get up in Maine in December. High 30’s, slight breeze and clear roads in Augusta. The roads were much better there than around the house, so it was an easy decision where to run. The only question was going to be how far.
I really wanted to get in 6.0 or so, but I had decided to take Sam’s advice and keep my heart-rate under 140 bpm and set my heart-rate alarms to go off under 125 bpm and over 135 bpm.
Off I trundled out the door.
Ummm Houston “What’s going on?”
I immediately got the low hr alarm and kept getting it all the way through the first mile???? So I kept increasing the pace, hell I was going faster than my slow runs and maintaining a heart-rate under 120 bpm. Either I am in great shape or the bottom is going fall out soon.
Yeah, just after I hit the mile, I got the other alert my heart-rate was now suddenly exceeding 135 bpm. I haven’t got a clue about what suddenly changed at that point, but it did and I had to slow down to a pace that I thought would be closer to my 135-140 bpm target.
The rest of the run was just spent figuring out how to run slow. Running at a 10:00 or slower pace has a different feel and stresses to the body than running faster does. My goal after a while was simply to run light, lift the feet quickly and not get so frustrated by running this slow.
When I looked at my graphs from my Milestone App, there was quite a difference from my usual running and today. It looked like someone else’s file had been accidentally imported to mine. 😉
The only thing that I recognized was the 100% heel striker, mid leg swing and rate of impact. Otherwise something tells me that I should probably not worry about my Milestone stats all that much for a while.
The reality is that
MAF training is more than just running by heart-rate to improve your running. To do it correctly, you need to change your lifestyle and mindset. I know that there are parts of my life that I do want to change and my mindset is not quite ready to be moved as far as I would need to go to move completely into the MAF world.
So I will do my modified MAF to meet my needs and I know that I will not reap the full benefit of MAF training by doing so. However, at this point in my life, I think that this way is much less stressful and/or frustrating for me than completely embracing MAF training would be. As I learn more and use some of the tenants of the program, perhaps I will move further into that world.
Sometimes you just have to experiment and see where on the continuum you need to be in order for you to achieve what you want. I want to run well, run fast and not get injured, so I do need to change how I train and I want to see if MAF training is a part of that change or not. Right now I am still more comfortable in the 80/20 training method espoused by Matt Fitzgerald, but am willing to move outside of that comfort zone to see if other things work for me as well.
Today’s run was not nearly as frustrating as yesterday’s and I will keep it up. I really need some cut-back time on the intensity level of my runs, so I will keep it at this heart-rate level for the rest of the year and evaluate where I am then. I know that MAF or heart-rate training takes longer than that, but at the same time I will have a lot more experience with the slower paced running than I do now and be in a better position to see where to go from there.
I just want to run, but I gotta run smahtah too. I have a feeling that I will eventually end up with something like heart-rate training for 4 days a week and the other runs will be a bit faster.
Just gotta work harder on that keeping the feet light thing while running slow to get fast. 🙂