My Maffetone Experiment - Part I

My training hasn't changed much since 2008 - keep the hard days hard and the easy days easy.  I've mixed things up a bit from year to year, but generally my training hasn't changed.  Until now...

With 2015 being a rough year I figured this was a good time to mix things up and try something new.  I wanted something completely different from how I've trained in the past.

The Maffetone Method.

I've been curious about this approach for years and after listening to many Maffetone discussions/interviews on the Endurance Planet podcast I decided to give it a try.  I figured I'd need to give it a few months to give it a fair shot so I decided on 11 weeks of training followed by an easy week with some testing.  I started with a month off completely after IMWI and then did a couple of easy weeks to build up a bit of a base before starting my 11 week block.   

If you're unfamiliar with the Maffetone Method, it's HR based training and you use a formula to find your MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) range (mine is 134-144 bpm) and then you train in that range day after day.  I've been training by power and pace since I started triathlon in 2007 so this was a big change.   

My first MAF run was 4 miles at an 8:12 pace and my first MAF ride  was an hour at 224 watts.  So now I had my starting point.  All that was left to do was train in my MAF range....everyday.

I loved the simplicity of the approach.  No trying to remember complicated workouts.  It's the same thing everyday - get your HR into your MAF range and hold it there.  The only variable I changed was duration building my overall volume slowly week after week. 

Things progressed quickly....too quickly.  By week 5 my pace was 7:30 and my power was in the mid 240s.  Day after day.  MAF was getting tough. (to add some context to these numbers, I held 236 watts at the Muncie 70.3 in 2014 and followed that up with a 7:16 pace on the run)

I needed to back off a bit so I came up with 3 workouts to do - LMAF, MAF and PMAF.

LMAF = Low MAF.  I took my MAF range and subtracted 10 beats so it was 124-134.  These were my "easy" days.
MAF = Regular MAF range.
PMAF = Progressive MAF.  Starting in LMAF and finishing at MAF.

Sidenote:  My MAF range is more or less Joe Friel's HR Zone 2 and my LMAF range was Friel's HR Zone 1 so at this point I was basically moving from MAF to zone-based HR training.  Traditional base training, I guess you could say.  Lots of zone 2.    

A basic week now looked like this:

Monday - "Easy" day
  - 4 mile LMAF on treadmill + core work at lunch
  - 1 hour LMAF ride on trainer after work 

Tuesday - MAF day
  - Swim before work
  - 8 mile MAF run at lunch

Wednesday - "Easy" day
  - 4 mile LMAF on treadmill + core work at lunch
  - 1 hour LMAF ride on trainer after work

Thursday - Long run day
  - Swim before work
  - Long PMAF run after work

Friday - Easy day
  - Swim before work
  - Yoga after work

Saturday - MAF day
  - 90 min trainer ride at MAF in the morning
  - 6-8 mile run on treadmill later in the day (MAF if feeling good, otherwise LMAF)

Sunday - Long ride day
  - Yoga in the morning
  - 2-2.5 hours at LMAF (or MAF if I was feeling good)

So that's what I've been up to.  11 weeks of Maffetone training.  This is week 12, my recovery/testing week. I'm doing a MAF ride Wednesday and hope to do a MAF run Thursday if the weather cooperates.  I'll repeat my first MAF workouts so I can compare.  Saturday is an FTP test. That should be interesting, and by interesting I mean painful. I haven't ridden at threshold in months.

I'm working on part 2 - the results.  I'll go over my progress and share the results of my FTP test and final MAF workouts.  I may write one more post about my overall thoughts on this approach and heart rate training.   


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