Getting back in shape after taking a break from running

You might recognize this scenario of training hard for one or more races, then taking a break and having a tough time getting back into training because your fitness has gone 10 steps backwards. In this post I’ll describe how I lost most of my fitness in less than one year and what actions I’m taking to gain fitness back.

In April 2015 I ran a PR at the Boston marathon in 2:44. The months leading up to this race I consistently ran 6 days / 60 to 80 miles a week and I was in the best shape of my life. Fast forward 1 year and life has gotten in the way of my running, I became mostly a weekend runner with 15 – 20 miles a week, and my fitness level decreased quickly.

Floris Gierman trail running in UtahPositive running vibes in full effect!  

How to lose most of your fitness in only 12 months! 

After the Boston Marathon last April, my body was pretty beat and I took it very easy in May to avoid injuries. In June, Paul Sinclair and I ran pretty hard up and down Mt Whitney at 14,500 feet in 7 1/2 hours. Going into Mt Whitney, my body wasn’t fully recovered yet from Boston. The weeks following Mt Whitney my energy levels were low and I didn’t feel like running much.

The following months, over the summer of 2015, I ran about 3 to 4 times a week, in the 20 to 25 miles per week range. On the work front, several major changes happened in August; we sold our online stationery business and I went back to work in the corporate world as VP of Marketing and Innovation at Tillys. During the first 6 months, most of my office days were packed with meetings and nights were consumed by catching up on 200+ emails per day. I was often tired at night and only wanted to chill with my fam or go to sleep, not go for a run! From August 2015 until December I only ran on Saturday and Sunday, with a sporatic week day run at 6am or after 10pm.

Floris Gierman running at Mt BaldyOne of the few weekend adventures, Mt Baldy, CA

In December 2015 we found out my wife was pregnant with our second child. She suffered from hyperemesis gravidarum (severe morning sickness), so I took care of my wife and daughter a lot more, which meant less runs! From August 2015 until April 2016 I’ve had to choose between my family / work and running, so I only ran an average of 60 to 80 miles a month, compared to 200 to 300+ miles per month prior to Boston.

That brings us to this month, May 2016. This has been the longest ‘break’ from training and racing that I’ve had in the past 3 years. My wife is feeling a bit better so I’m able to get some more runs in! Our baby is due early September, so 4 months left until the party starts again!

Family Gierman

Frustrations! 
It’s so easy to compare yourself to your peak fitness level and beat yourself up about how slow you’ve become. During my peak in April 2015, a 20 mile runs at 6:45 min / mile pace felt like a piece of cake at 148HR. In the past few months I’ve been feeling tired even after just a few miles at 8 min / miles at 147HR. I’ve caught myself thinking several times: “This sucks, I want to be done, are we there yet?” This is the first time I’ve been experiencing this feeling. From early 2013 until April 2015 I’ve always improved my performance and this is the first time regressing. The hardest part after a break is accepting the new reality and training at your current fitness level!

Marathon bonk feeling4 miles into a mellow run and already out of energy, not happy (Dec 19, 2015)

Getting your mindset back in shape
One of the key take aways from my interview with 6 time Hawaii Ironman World Champion Mark Allen, was the importance of mental training, getting your mind in the right place during training and racing. Instead of being frustrated, I had to get my mind in a better place. One tool that has helped me a lot is the 5 minute journal and app. Every morning you take 5 minutes to write: ‘3 things I’m grateful for’ and ‘3 things that I will do to make today great.’ Every night you take 5 minutes to answer: ‘3 amazing things that happened today’ and ‘How could I have made today even better’. The 5 minute journal starts and ends your day to maintain positive thinking patterns.

The five minute journal is part of my morning routine

Instead of thinking ‘I’m lazy and suck at running’, I’ve become much more grateful for the things around me, such as a healthy body that’s able to run, a second child on the way, a strong wife, a nice house, a great job at a solid company, etc. In the past few weeks my mindset has become much more positive. This past weekend after 5 miles at slow pace, I started having some difficulties; my legs were feeling heavy and my pace slowed down to about 8:30 min / miles at 147HR. Only 1 year ago I ran more than 2 minutes per mile faster at the same HR. Instead of comparing myself to peak times, I think about all the things I am grateful for. Also I think about the excitement of the journey to get back in shape again.

Setting a running goal

Setting a running goal gives you clear focus to train. In X amount of days you have a race coming up, so you better put in the training, or you’ll miss your goal and it’s going to be a miserable and painful experience!

In the past few years I’ve always set a running goal about 3 – 6 months out, a few of my goals were:
Our second daughter will be born early September 2016, so I have about 4 months to get back in shape, before focusing much more time on my family again. For me, there is something magical about running a sub 3 hour marathon, you have to be in good shape in order to run this. By the end of August 2016 I want to run a 2:57 marathon on low training mileage.
 
Creating a training plan
A training plan increases your chances to succeed in your race goal, however listening to your body and being flexible with your plan is key!
In the next 4 months I plan to run 40 to 45 miles max, spread out over 5 days, mostly early mornings and late nights:
  • Tuesday: 3 to 5 miles
  • Wednesday: 10 miles
  • Thursday: 3 to 5 miles
  • Saturday: MAF test on track = 8 miles
  • Sunday: Long run = 10 to 20 miles
For most weeks, all of my runs will be aerobic in the HR zone of 137 – 147 bpm, sometimes lower. Occasionally I will add some speedwork or hills.  This is also how I trained for my Boston Marathon: 94% of my total running time was aerobic, only 6% of my total running time was anaerobic with intervals and speedwork.
My night runs with Petzl Tikka RXP headlamp
Enjoying the late night runs with Pretzel headlamp
Documenting training progress
One way to keep track of your training progress is by taking a MAF test on a running track: You warm up for 15 minutes, then run 5 miles at your Max Aerobic HR (to calculate this HR, visit Phil Maffetone’s site), then 1 mile cool down. For each of the 5 miles you note your mile times:
  • On April 30, 2016 I ran the 5 miles at 147 HR in 38:11 = 7:38 min / mile average.
  • One week later, on May 7th, 2016, I improved 25 seconds over 5 miles in 37:46 = 7:33 min / mile average. This progress is very motivating because at the same heart rate, your running pace improves.
Running track with rainbow in Corona Del Mar, California
Note that not every week your aerobic pace will improve. There are a lot of variables involved that can make a difference in your MAF test times, such as your stress levels, hours of sleep the night before, your weight, outside temperature, etc. For the next 15 weeks, every Saturday at 6am I’ll run a MAF test and take note of all possible influential factors. All details will be posted on my Strava.

 

On 8/19/16, I want my last MAF test pace to be at or below 7 min / mile again. This should put me in a good position to run a 2:57 marathon on 08/24/16.

 

In the coming months I’ll be posting here on this blog, my Strava and Youtube about my findings while regaining fitness. I’ll also be diving further into nutrition, sauna training and my experience with Wim Hof breathing exercises and cold showers.
 Fall running through the leafs
Few closing thoughts
It takes time and dedication to build up and maintain a high level of fitness. Sometimes you decide there are other priorities in life that require your time and energy. If you’ve lost some or most of your fitness, accepting your current fitness is an important step to minimize frustrations. Instead of thinking ‘I’m such a slow runner’ and ‘this takes so much more effort than before’, write down the things you’re grateful for, such as a healthy body that allows you to run, friends, family, etc.

 

Setting a (race) goal 3 to 6 months out and creating a realistic training plan should help get you back in shape. Document your progress by taking weekly or monthly MAF tests. Improvements don’t happen overnight so be patient. Last but not least, have fun!

 

Questions: what are some of the challenges that you’ve run into with your fitness, limited training time and motivation? What are you doing to overcome these challenges? Please let me know in the comments.

37 Comments

  1. Michael May 11, 2016

    Great to see you back on the blog Floris and great post!
    I had the opposite problem the last year where I have been training and racing too much without any planned breaks in between (not good for your health…)….
    I think it’s healthy to take a month (or 12) of now and then – especially if you want to be a runner long term 🙂

    I also try to train, eat and live after Maffetones principles and just ran my first SUB 3 hour marathon this fall in Hamborg.

    You write that you’r MAF HR is between 138-148. How much is that compared to your %HRR (heart rate reserve)?

    Kind regards
    Michael from Denmark

    Reply
    • floris May 12, 2016

      Hi Michael, stoked to hear from you and congrats on your first SUB 3 hour marathon! Absolutely agree that it’s healthy to take a break or major step back every now and then. I don’t look at %HRR, because for me the 180 formula has worked well. Have fun on your next marathon adventures!

      Greetings back from Los Angeles!
      Cheers,
      Flo

      Reply
  2. Colin May 11, 2016

    Your email came at just the right time…

    Last year I had a good year regarding fitness, I ran a mountain half marathon sub 1hr 30 and also managed to race at the World Kayak champs all on MAF training, although when I got back, I was busy with my business. We moved house and my wife and I had our first child. All amazing stuff but the fitness was gone.

    I have struggled to get fit and even dropped off Strava not that I had much to post on there.

    Just last week I got back onto MAF training running and kayaking, Painfully slow runs but it’s what’s needed.

    I set myself the goal of running Chester Marathon here in the UK with a target time of sub 3hr, an optimistic goal as It will be my first marathon on October 2nd this year.

    I’ve read your blog post when you ran you first sub 3 and will use it as a template moving forward.

    I look forward to watching your return to form as inspiration.

    Take Care, Colin

    Reply
    • floris May 12, 2016

      Hi Colin, that’s rad you were able to race at the World Kayak champs, that must have been intense! Good you were able to train all on MAF. Glad to hear I’m not the only one experiencing a painfully slow pace getting back into it. Congrats on your first child!

      Sounds like we have a similar goal for later this year. A sub 3hr is a very optimistic goal for your first marathon. Keep in mind that your race doesn’t start until mile 20, so getting your weekly miles up is key. Also, get familiar and comfortable with 20 mile runs, so 26 miles doesn’t seem much further anymore.

      Let’s connect more on Strava!
      Cheers, Flo

      Reply
  3. Jo May 11, 2016

    Thanks for this post, Floris! Your approach sounds very well thought out and realistic and I wish you all the best with your training.
    I’m currently struggling as I’m injured and unable to do any training other than deep water running and swimming. Last year I had an amazing season – 2 sub- 3 hour marathons and PRs in the 5k, 10k and half marathon. Unfortunately, I didn’t listen to my body and pushed on with a huge volume of training so that when I got 8k into the Rotterdam marathon in April (perfect conditions and I was all set to try to break 2:50), I felt a sharp pain in my heel that made it impossible to keep running.
    Moral of the story is to listen to your body, take regular down time, cross train rather than endlessly pounding out big running miles and don’t get too carried away with racing all the time – 1 big goal each year is probably enough!

    Reply
    • floris May 12, 2016

      Thank you Jo! Sorry to hear about your injury, especially after a very strong season last year! Listening to your body is definitely key, you can’t be superman or superwoman all the time! Agreed on the 1 big goal each year, possible have a smaller goal leading into the bigger goal, like an A and B race. Have a fast recovery so you can get break 2:50 when your body and mind are ready! Keep me posted.

      Cheers!
      Flo

      Reply
  4. Jon May 12, 2016

    Great post

    Reply
  5. Richard May 12, 2016

    Hey Floris, great post that I am sure lots of people can relate to.
    I am currently 3 or 4 weeks back into full training after around 6 months of very low activity fighting injury. Last year I got a PB in both half marathon(1:30) and marathon (3:24) and a month after (in November) I attempted a 75 mile loop of London over two days. I completed the first day of 37 miles but after 20 the next day I had to pull out because of injury and it seemed to last forever.
    I train using HR and the 180 maffetone theory. I too was struggling to get it down to anywhere near before along with fatigue in legs after short distances which is demoralising as naturally I compared it to last year. But persistance and Hill training have helped the recovery to come together quicker than expected but still no where near where I was! I am hoping it continues for my first official ultra race on 5th June (55k)
    Finally, after all what you have achieved over the last few years (100miler & 2:44 mara) I would hope you will quickly get back to somewhere near where you were with your training plan. I look forward to seeing you progress towards your goals and hopefully I’ll get some tips along the way 🙂

    Reply
    • floris May 16, 2016

      Hi Richard, good to hear from you! Sounds like we were in the same boat comparing ourselves to PB shape. That’s great your recovery is going quicker than expected! Very exciting you’re doing your first ultra race soon. Just slow down your pace a bit to save your legs and energy for the last part of the race. You got this!!

      Due to other time commitments and priorities, I’m planning to run on 40 – 45 miles / week and I’m fine with that, stoked to get out there running a lot more again. Will definitely continue to share tips along the way. Keep me posted how your 55k race went! Cheers, Flo

      Reply
  6. Bill Z. May 12, 2016

    Really enjoyed this post, Flo. Was wondering how life has been treating you and this explains it all. Excited to see you get back into training with a new goal. I absolutely love following your running journey. The peak of it at Boston (so far) was simply incredible. On my end, with a young one (9 months) at home, I have to fit my runs in on my lunch hour (thankful to have a path really close) and on the weekends. But I’ve seen some really great HR improvements in the past few months (some of which I can’t explain). The dream remains to get to Boston one day. My hope for Buffalo is around 3:20.

    Have a great day.
    Bill (Zdon, pacpie)

    Reply
    • floris May 16, 2016

      Hi Bill, glad you enjoyed this post. Sounds like you’ve been able to find a way to combine your little one with getting lunch runs and weekend runs in, that’s not an easy one to combine during the first year. Nice work on your HR improvements, sometimes you hit a plateau for a little while (stress / lack of sleep, etc) before improving further. With your dedication, I’m absolutely convinced you’ll make it Boston one day. Have an epic race at the Buffalo marathon, can’t wait to hear how it goes! Cheers, Flo

      Reply
    • Stella March 22, 2017

      Stands back from the keyboard in amenzmeat! Thanks!

      Reply
  7. Shan May 12, 2016

    Your April 2015 peak was legendary Floris. You still have it in you, cumulative miles and all. Congrats on baby #2. I like your journalling, i’ll try that for two weeks see if my patterns change. It is a great idea, and thank you for sharing it. By the way– I know you like MAF, so you may like this.

    There is another guy who wrote a HADD training manual. It is very similar to MAF in that it is based on heart rate and favors a long slow buildup. He gets into it a little deeper– running at low heart rates to increase mitochondrial density, but also sub threshold heart rates to specifically slowly raise the lactate threshold. He gets into exact maximum sustained marathon heart rates based on your HR max.

    It’s a quick read https://www.angio.net/personal/run/hadd.pdf

    Reply
    • floris May 16, 2016

      Thanks a lot Shan, much appreciated! Congrats on your 50k PR today, you were flying out there!!

      Yes check out the journalling, it helps keep the mind positive for sure. Meditation is another one that works really well on a daily basis, more about that another time.

      That HADD article is very detailed! I’ve come across it 1 time before and it has a lot of great info. The 2400m time trial at HR, is in a way similar to MAF test, it just goes anaerobic and at different HR levels vs MAF test. I’m going to read to in more detail soon, thanks for the reminder. Have a good recovery from your race and see you on Strava!

      Reply
    • Michael May 26, 2016

      @ Shan: great article! Who’s the author?
      His approach to HR training is very similar to Keith Livingstone who wrote “Healthy Intelligent training” based on Lydiards approach.

      The 180 formel doesn’t work on me due to my high max puls 198 and resting HR at 48 (and I’m 37 years old). Based on a %HRR my maf puls is 159 (75%HRR) and not 143-148 (=180 formel).

      Reply
  8. Tyler May 12, 2016

    Thanks for writing this Flo. I’ve also been struggling with a lack of fitness after spending most of 2015 in China and doing very little running (and any running I did do was in polluted air). I’m hoping to do much more heart rate training this year and slowly build up MAF to get ready for a marathon in Oct/Nov. Great suggestions on how to stay motivated. Look forward to seeing some of your runs on Strava!

    Reply
    • floris May 16, 2016

      Stoked to hear from you Tyler! Your photos from China were amazing, but I can imagine the running in polluted air must have been a rough one. HR training can definitely make a big difference to get ready for your next marathon, good amount of time to build a solid aerobic base. Hope to run Mt Wilson or Santa Monica Mountains with you again at some point! Cheers

      Reply
  9. Lee hemmings May 14, 2016

    Florin, great bed time reading bud. I have a problem, here goes- my MAF tests on a track are slower than on a up and down road 5 miler?
    Am going to do 2 tests for you to look at, 1 on track and 1 on road.
    I look forward to updates on your training. Top work bud, my training is not so much concentrated on running over summer as I have IM, so can only do about 40 miles.

    Reply
    • floris May 16, 2016

      Hi Lee, send over the 2 tests and I will take a look. My track and road MAF tests are sometimes also different, many factors involved, like your GPS measuring differently on track loop and road up and down, wind, hills, surface, etc. I run my MAF tests on a track and I time them each mile on my phone, because I noticed my watch counts each mile slightly shorter. So for example a mile on my watch will be 7:30 min / mile, on my phone timer it could be 7:32 min / mile. Hope that helps. Have fun with your runs out there this summer! Cheers, Flo

      Reply
  10. Benno May 14, 2016

    Hi Flo, you have written a very not feeling blog about the feeling to be a bit out of shape in comparison with peak performance. I remember the time we were running together and sometimes cannot believe how quickly I improved during this time , however also how quickly I had lost this level afterwords . Since the marathon in LB I have been doing much more varieties of work outs including cycling , swimming , soccer and some weight lifting . This is fun and I actually feel quite well in shape . However, whenever I am running it is just not the same . Somehow I also had to just accept that “it is what it is” and just enjoy the exercise instead of always chasing to be better . We do this way too often anyway I guess .
    By the way , I am stoked to read that you are having another baby ! Good luck and take good care of Jen and Sadie . Hope to see you soon again somewhere on this planet 😉

    Reply
    • Benno May 14, 2016

      I am typing on a phone so the first sentence came out weird 🙂 I mean you wrote a cool blog about the feeling to be a bit out of shape . Cheers 😉

      Reply
    • floris May 16, 2016

      Good to hear from you Benno! Haha, we definitely improved fast and lost fitness again too, crazy how quickly that goes. It’s fun you’ve been doing so many different sports. Really good point about enjoying the exercise instead of always chasing to be better, in an ideal world the 2 are combined 🙂 You have a lot of nice mountains in your backyard, so I’m sure there are plenty of hiking spots as well. We’re excited for baby #2, 110 days to go, not that we’re counting! Hope to see you again somewhere on this planet, maybe at the Congregation or closer to your place! Cheers

      Reply
  11. Michael May 26, 2016

    @ Shan: great article! Who’s the author?
    His approach to HR training is very similar to Keith Livingstone who wrote “Healthy Intelligent training” based on Lydiards approach.

    The 180 formel doesn’t work on me due to my high max puls 198 and resting HR at 48 (and I’m 37 years old). Based on a %HRR my maf puls is 159 (75%HRR) and not 143-148 (=180 formel).

    Reply
  12. Pete Nelson May 29, 2016

    This is great stuff! It really resonates with me because I’m injured and can’t train BJJ at more than about 25% (and it should be less than that). I’ve gotten past prior episodes when I’ve been out of shape for whatever reason mostly be recognizing that _some_ kind of exercise, even if it’s far from what you think you ought to be doing, is better than _no_ exercise. As obvious as it may be, it’s a tough thing to get past. I’m excited to try your journaling approach. Thanks…Pete

    Reply
    • floris June 6, 2016

      Hi Pete, this low HR training is definitely a good way to make sure you don’t train to hard. Great especially when you’re recovering from an injury. Hope you’ll have a fast recovery! Cheers, Flo

      Reply
  13. Francois June 14, 2016

    Hi Flo. My name is Francois. I am from South Africa. 29 years old. I started running early 2013. In June 2014 I did the Comrades ultra marathon. I then took a long break from running and started running again beginning 2015. In April 2016 I did Ironman SA. Since then I have continued to run about 3 times a week (20 – 30km). I can currently run 5km in about 23min. 10km in about 48min and 21km in about 1hr48min. My heart rate has always been very high compared to others. When I run at an easy pace of about 6min/km my average hr is about 175bpm. When I race a 21km flat out my average hr can be as high as 190bpm. In 2013 I did a 21km PB in 1hr45min with an average hr of 192bpm. I thought maybe there is something wrong with my hr monitor, but I have had 3 watches and they all show similar hr values. I have read your articles on MAF, but this means I need to run with average hr of 150bpm. This sounds very low which will mean I have to walk. Could it be that perhaps I don’t fit into 180 formula? Like I mensioned, when I run at 175bpm it feels very earobic to me. I can maintain this for hours. Advice is welcome. Thanks.

    Reply
    • Michael June 16, 2016

      @ FRANCOIS: In my opinion the 180 formula is just as vague as the 220 – age formula (to find you’r max HR).
      The whole idea of taking some random number minus you’r age to find something as important as a specific training zone is just silly to me.
      Some (like Flo) are lucky and the number fits but most of us are better off by using our max and resting pulse to calculate the training zones %HRR (heart rate reserve).

      Take me for example I’m 37 years old, my max HR is 196 and my resting HR is 48. My “FatMax” or MAF pulse should be around pulse 160-165 (75-80 %HRR).
      The 180 formel says my “FatMax” or MAF pulse should be around 143-148 which is way too low and rather some easy aerobic running if you look at my HR profile.

      The 180 formel is great for new runners who wants to get started with HR training but more serious athletes should look at their specific HR data and train according to that

      Reply
      • Francois June 17, 2016

        Hi Michael, thanks for the information. I am 29 and my lowest recorded resting hr is 47 and my highest is 205. So that would make my HRR = 158. So 70- 80% HRR in my case would be in the region of 165- 175. Does this sound about right? To me it makes sense because when I run at 175bpm it feels really easy and aerobic. I would like to know what Floris has to say as well. I think his opinion would be that this would be too high heart rate to train at.

        Reply
        • Michael June 20, 2016

          @ Francois: If I use you’r data 70-80%HRR you should hoover around puls 158 – 173.
          Puls 173 is your “steady state” zone or MAF.
          It should feel pretty hard but still aerobic and not uncomfortable.
          So if i were you my slow long runs would be at puls 158 and my biweekly hard runs at puls 173 🙂

          Reply
  14. Moncacht Ape July 17, 2016

    I don’t know you – I watched two interviews of you yesterday on Youtube (Mark Allen, Dr. Maffetone) and I saw that you had a 2:44 marathon. Please consider that there is more to shape than the speed of your MAF – test, your terribly slow training sessions, the terribly long marathon.

    I was born a runner. My high school teacher called me Paavo Nurmi. I only later learned about the fact that Paavo Nurmi in retrospect considered running a waste of time. Running for me meant a 3:30 per kilometer pace for distances up to 25K. That felt great when I was young. The 25K was the longest distance I considered a good distance because after 25K at 3:30 per K I was exhausted. I did not see why someone should run a marathon. Why should you go out and run a pace that does not feel right? Enjoy your running and stop testing yourself.

    I am an engineer, so please consider that there is a part of running that is purely mechanical and has nothing to do with physiology and fat-burning. The length of your arms and legs result in a frequency that feels right when running. There is an “Eigenfrequenz” in you as a system where legs and arms move. This frequency of your limbs and your breath that you synchronize with a multiple of your arm and leg movements make the difference. What difference? Like being woken up on a sunny day by your daughter on one hand – or in a damp prison in a third world country by a guard that will torture you for the rest of the day.

    So go out running to breath and enjoy. Running against the clock in your case is like golfers who start golfing in there 30s who are so fixed on lowering their handicap and then have a chance to play with a pro and realize that what they do can not even be called golfing. That is when they quit. What they should do instead learn a swing that feels good and enjoy their time on the beautiful golf course.

    Reply
    • floris October 2, 2016

      Thank you for your comment. I think you make an excellent point to go out and enjoy running. I absolutely enjoy running with or without heart rate monitor, however I also enjoy analyzing my body feedback and progress during training cycles.

      You feel 25k is the longest distance considered a good distance, I personally enjoy marathon distances up to 50 milers the most.

      My “terribly slow training sessions” as you call them, are very enjoyable and I don’t feel beat after a long run at MAF pace. To each their own, wishing you all the best! Cheers

      Reply
  15. Anya July 28, 2016

    Hello, Floris!
    Thank you so so much for sharing this. I have just started doing some research about MAF running, and ran into your website. You are such an inspiration! I have been a struggling marathoner. Thank you for sharing all the details, it definitely makes me believe I can do anything! And congrats on the baby, you have the cutest family.
    P.S. Running Moscow Marathon this fall – should be fun.
    Cheers!

    Reply
  16. floris October 2, 2016

    Hi Anya, looks like you just ran the Moscow Marathon last week, hope you had a great time out there! The MAF running approach might help you overcome your struggles as a marathon runner. You can definitely do anything you put your mind to. Appreciate your kind comment. If any questions come up, just let me know, I’m here to help. Cheers!

    Reply
  17. Nolan October 4, 2016

    Hey Flo! Excellent article on getting back to running. Thanks for sharing your stories — it’s been great fun following along and gaining a better insight into your progress through MAF. I have a question for you regarding hitting plateaus during training. I followed the MAF program, changed my diet, and ran under my 149bpm for about 4 months. Made some nice progress with the MAF Test from an 8:52 mile @ 149bpm down to a 7:16 @ 149bpm in about 3 months. Unfortunately, I can’t seem to break the 7:00min mile without going over my 149bpm. I have been doing some speedwork to change things up — but find that it was a bit too taxing on my body and needed more rest time that resulted in less running and another slip in my progress. Did you experience any significant plateaus that threw you off schedule a bit during your training? How’d you push through it? Thanks again and looking forward to the next entry –

    Reply
    • floris October 24, 2016

      Hi Nolan, congrats on a massive improvement from 8:52 to 7:16 min / mile, that’s huge in that short of a period of time and faster than most people improve. Be patient, it’s totally normal to hit plateaus, I’ve experiences the same thing. I didn’t push through it, I realized this is part of the training process and your body is adjusting.

      Make sure to build in some step back weeks in your schedule. Typically I do 3 weeks of building miles of 10% increase per week max, then 4th week is a step back week with 30-40% less volume. It’s good you’re starting to do some speed work. I recognize the feeling of it being too taxing. Make sure to ease into it. If your MAF pace is down to 7:16 min / miles, maybe start your speed work with 4 or 6 x 400 meters at 6 min / miles. I’ve made the mistake of going all out too soon during speed work and it felt too taxing. To overcome a plateau you could try some intervals like 1 – 2 a week, 15 – 30 minutes max, for 3 to 4 weeks, become going back to MAF only (or mostly).

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, let me know.

      Cheers,
      Flo

      Reply
      • Nolan October 25, 2016

        Hey, thanks Flo! Super helpful. Going forward, I’ll for sure incorporate ‘step back’ weeks as I didn’t incorporate this into my previous training at all. I’ll also try your suggestion of intervals and the 4X400 @ 6min pace and see how that feels. Thanks a ton!!

        Reply

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *