When low heart rate training gets tough

MAF trainingSo…I alluded to this on Monday, but here’s the deal: MAF training is getting a little tough for me right now. And I remember this happening last time through, too, although I seem to be struggling with it even more this time.

You’d think MAF would be hardest at the very beginning, when you are at your slowest. It is tough, then, trust me. But when I start to struggle mentally with it is when I’m almost within striking distance of my friends. Because I want to run with them.

Let me say first and foremost–I am happy to be running, period. And if I had to run every step solo for the rest of my life, I would. But I do have a great set of running friends and I miss running with them, especially since my long runs are getting longer (I did 13 today!) and sharing good conversation during those miles is a fantastic way to go.

I have cheated a couple of times, which is how I know I’m not terribly far off running with my friends. Cheating on MAF, while not recommended, is doable on occasion. My experience is that it doesn’t sink your ship, but it will slow your progress down.

Another factor playing into my MAF doldrums is that I don’t feel like I’ve progressed as quickly as I did last time. I attribute this to the fact that last time, I was already running a good 40 miles/week when I got started. This time, I was starting at square one and have built my mileage slowly. I’m pretty sure the the higher your mileage with MAF, the faster you’ll get results.

Finally, throw in the lingering bit of humidity, which can lead to frustratingly slow runs at MAF, and you get all my reasons for wanting to ditch it. HOWEVER: I’m not throwing in the towel just yet. While I haven’t been testing my paces this time through, I can sense that I am making slow progress with MAF. I really did love the strong engine MAF built last time around and I want to have that base from which to launch speed work again.

So I’m putting my head down and trying to keep at it for as long as my patience will hold out. Eventually, I could catch up to my friends, even at a super low heart rate, and how cool is that? Send me some MAF zen, please!

If you’ve MAF trained, how long did you stick it out? Do you think I should? 

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  1. says

    In my years of running, I’ve never used MAF training…and really, know very very little about it all. But maybe if I tried it, I’d experience some progress the next time I marathon trained. If I had someone to do the thinking work for me and show me just what to do, I’d probably give it a go. Otherwise, I think I’m really enjoying this stage of running for fun. You do have me curious to learn more about it and read some of your past posts on it. good for you for trying to stick to it so far! I say do what makes you feel happy with your running!
    Amanda@Runninghood recently posted..Random Thursday: Running, MESSES, Scattered Thoughts, and ElectromagnetsMy Profile

    • MissZippy says

      That’s definitely my struggle, Amanda. Doing what I think is right (MAF) vs. doing what I enjoy. Because running should be all about the joy it brings.

  2. says

    I’ve honestly never tried MAF training but I’ve read a fair amount about it. It is def something that I am interested in doing. Perhaps when I get back into running and working out. Thanks for sharing more though.
    Hollie recently posted..Simply HumanMy Profile

  3. says

    I am having a HORRIBLE time right now. My times are getting slower…I can’t decide if it’s the weather, just a transition in my training or well something else. I’m getting blood work back next week so if that rules out “something else” GAH then I’m still going to stay strong another month and see what happens. I don’t remember getting slower at all last time, just progressively faster.
    Amanda @runtothefinish recently posted..9 Comical and Peculiar Running Mistakes, Plus How to Avoid ThemMy Profile

  4. says

    Stick it out Amanda, I am sure you all be glad you did! Especially as you have had so many setbacks, now is not the time you wanna take 4 steps back again. I know it is frustrating when they are so close, but you will get there quicker than you think, just as you got to this point quicker than you thought you would. Time passes, and you need to keep in mind what I have been telling myself recently “take what your body gives you on the day”, that is all you can ask. You can do it :) Patience will reward you my friend!
    Tina Muir recently posted..Snack Out Loud! Review + Jalepeño Cheddar Crunchy Bean BurgersMy Profile

  5. says

    The last two weeks have had this humidity set in and it’s affected me as well … I’m guessing that is playing a role for you right now. I’m in some running doldrums myself, I’m getting my miles run, but I’m not happy. Meh … I’m starting to wonder if I’m actually getting ready to transition to strictly running for pleasure/fitness and not so much with race goals in mind. That’s a different topic, though 😉
    Christina recently posted..A long run in the rainMy Profile

  6. says

    You are a far better woman than I in how long you’ve stuck with it .I say stay the course (if you can, haha!) The humidity lately has been soul sucking. If there’s one thing to look forward to fall for, it’s better running weather.
    Marcia recently posted..Foodie Friday and MoreMy Profile

  7. says

    Hang in there! It sounds like even though you might not be able to keep pace with everyone as often as you like right now, that the second the air gets a bit cooler and drier you’ll be right there with them. Don’t forget what a huge difference even 5 degrees, or a few percentage points of humidity, can make! Take pride in your patience and remember that the most notable improvements are always the initial ones. After that, any changes are more subtle, but they are still there.
    Jen @ ConcreteNCoffee recently posted..Jumping- And Running – For Joy: It’s Back To School Time!My Profile

  8. Allison says

    I just started MAF training on August 20th. I did it last summer for a few weeks and lost all patience with it when I didn’t see significant progress. (I probably only did it for about 10 weeks total). I’m doing it again now by default–iliopsoas tendonitis has pretty much forced me to run slow, so I figured what the heck. I’ll start over and do MAF training until the end of the year.

    I’ve been scouring the internet looking for testimonials, and I’m seeing that most people who have had significant results with MAF are logging 6+ hours a week of MAF running. I am not there yet and won’t be for a few more weeks as I am pretty much starting over. That theory definitely jives though with how you aren’t seeing the results that you did last summer.

    Thanks for the continued posting on MAF! You’re a great resource.

    • MissZippy says

      Coming back from an injury is the perfect time to do it, although yes, the going is slow until you are running more normal mileage. May we both have patience!

  9. says

    I’ve never tried MAF, but I have become such a podcast addict that I honestly don’t mind running without friends sometimes. The podcasts keep me company and I learn a lot – and sometimes I even find that I’d prefer to run with podcasts and just meet my friends for brunch after our run! I know that’s not a permanent solution, since you really want to run WITH your friends, but it might be one way to compromise.
    Laura recently posted..When One Workout Prevents AnotherMy Profile

  10. says

    I have never been able to stick with a heart rate training method. I have tried and really wanted too but it never seems to work out. Like others have said, someone do the thinking part for me and maybe, but I want to enjoy running.
    J Ford recently posted..4 Years Ago???My Profile

  11. says

    I don’t know if I would ever be successful at trying MAF – lately I’ve been working on just running a steady, easy (talking fluently) pace – then I get tired of that and start increasing and increasing – oops!!!
    Kim recently posted..BlogLovin’ Please be NiceMy Profile

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  14. says

    Keep at it, if your goal is improvement.

    Personally like another person commented, I love the solitude of running and am never short of podcasts to be catching up on, so I nearly always set my own pace.

    I find a group dynamic is not good for heart rate/aerobic work, as there is always someone who wants to push the pace just a tad, and then others want to follow and not get left behind, and before you know it most of the group are comfortably anaerobic to some degree.

    I’ve been 95% MAF for almost a year now since I started running seriously in fact, I had been zone2 training several months before I even learned what “MAF” was … but in that that year I have gone from roughly a 12:30 MAF pace to a 10:00 MAF pace and I see no reason why I should not continue improving. It takes time and dedication, and that is the hard bit about training.
    Van recently posted..FrittatarataaaaMy Profile

  15. says

    I just started HR training to try and PR at the Marine Corps Marathon. Staying in the zone’s is so hard for me because I’m so used to going all out every run. I was in high zone 3 yesterday and was still running SO slow. It’s very frustrating…hope it works though! Thanks for the post!

  16. says

    Well, we’ve had many, many conversations about MAF in the past few years, eh? :) It’s good to see how diligent you are – shows your strength and determination.

    But having been a solo runner my entire life, basically, and stumbling upon a group to trail run with this summer, I pretty much threw the HR thing away because it was FUN to run with these guys and I basically have nothing I’m gearing up for race-wise so figured it didn’t really matter much at all. I think as I get older and PRs are a thing of the past, I may as well just enjoy it instead of being frustrated to death.

    • MissZippy says

      Totally get that and it’s a big part of why I get frustrated with it. But then I do a MAF run and feel so good that I feel like ti’s just where I should be, you know? Wish there was a way to do both and make the MAF gains!

  17. Debbie says

    I am trying once again to build a better aerobic base with MAF training. I am 54 yrs old and I have been running for 11 years. Last year I finished my first 50-mile race. I am no stranger to long, slow distance, but I am seeing that I have been running them mostly too “hot.”
    The thing that is a huge obstacle for me is the “no racing.” How long do you have to stop racing? Will it hurt to race once in a while if you are doing everything else in the MAF HR zone?
    I have just started being serious about MAF training this week. I am at a low mileage point after my last 50K trail race on 9-27. But I really want to run a half-marathon Nov 15 and a 10-mile trail race Dec 6. My serious race schedule will start next April.
    Do I really have to give up racing to do this? How long????