How to become a faster runner by slowing down

We’re 5 weeks into the new year already, I hope your runs are going well these winter months!! Today I wanted to share an interview I did with Greg White for the LA Leggers Running Club. Many details are being discussed about the Phil Maffetone training method, my running progress with this method over the past 18 months, what running means to me, balancing running with family and career and much more.

By Greg White – If you’re reading this, then I’m guessing the prospect of running a sub-3 hour marathon sounds pretty good, right? But damn, that sounds real hard, right? I mean, all that speed work and all those long, crushing tempo runs…tough stuff, right? Yes. Except: no. I’d like to introduce you to 32 year-old Long Beach resident, Floris Gierman. After years of on and off running with no real structure, Floris decided to try and beat his 4ish hour marathon time. His journey lead him to Phil Maffetone’s aerobic conditioning plans, and brought him some pretty amazing success at 26.2. Based largely in heart rate zones, Maffetone’s approach is a holistic one that all endurance athletes should consider in their own training. I spoke with Floris about his adventures in speeding up by slowing down.

Running some hills in El Moro, photo by Mike Bell

GW: You had a great deal of success training using the Maffetone Method. Could you talk a little bit about what goes into that training and why it works?

FG: Yes, I first heard about Doctor Phill Maffetone on a Trail Runner’s Nation podcast. He mentioned if you want to run faster, SLOW DOWN! This seemed really backwards to me at first but made sense after learning more about it.

Most runners (recreational, amateur and pro) run with a Heart Rate that is too high. This means their body generates energy primarily from sugar instead of body fat. If you slow down and train with a lower HR (in combination with proper nutrition) you teach your body to use mostly your body fat for energy. Body fat provides more than twice the energy than sugar. Over time once your aerobic base develops and metabolism improves, your pace will improve as well. By slowing down you, over time you’ll become a much faster runner with less effort.

To give you an example, on 5/23/2013 I started training with a Heart Rate Monitor at my max aerobic Heart Rate. This is the training heart rate that reflects optimal aerobic training, when you go above this HR there is a fast transition to more anaerobic training. For me this max aerobic HR was 150, so for several months I ran almost all of my runs at 140 to 150 beats per minute. To calculate your own max aerobic HR, read this article about the 180 formula.

A great way to monitor your aerobic progress is a Maximum Aerobic Function test, aka MAF test: You warm up for 15 minutes, then run 5 miles at your max aerobic HR, on a flat course (no hills) with minimal wind and normal temperatures to avoid inaccurate data. Here are a few results from my MAF tests over time:

Date 5 miles average pace at max aerobic HR
5/25/13 8:21 min / mile
6/27/13 7:43 min / mile
8/20/13 7:21 min / mile
11/5/13 7:26 min / mile
4/6/14 7:02 min / mile
4/27/14 6:54 min / mile
6/14/14 6:50 min / mile
8/24/14 6:44 min / mile
9/14/14 6:37 min / mile
1/30/15 6:31 min / mile

This means that with the same Heart Rate, on 5/25/13 it took me 41 minutes 45 seconds to run 5 miles, on 1/30/15 it took me 32:35 to run 5 miles, 9 minutes and 10 seconds faster.

The first few months of training aerobic, almost everyone has to slow down their pace significantly. It’s best to avoid speedwork while building your aerobic base. If you add high Heart Rate workouts during your base building period of 3 – 6 months, you add stress to your body and you slow down your aerobic base development.

Speed work is still an important part of this Maffetone Training Program when done right. After 3 – 6 months of aerobic runs, there is a chance you notice your improvements slowing down or stopping. This can be an indication that its time to add some speed work: 1 to 2 times a week, 15 to 30 minutes intervals, 3 to 4 weeks in a row max, then back to aerobic runs only for a few months until your improvements slow down again.

A few advantages I’ve experienced running this way:

• My energy levels are a lot more consistent. I used to be very tired and hungry after some of my longer runs. Now I run much more controlled and it’s a lot more enjoyable. It feels like I can keep running forever and never stop. After every run I feel energized which is a great feeling.

• You learn how to listen to your body. If you have a cold or flu, you’ll noticed an increased HR. Once you notice that your body is off, you can adjust your training pace accordingly.

• The risk of injuries is a lot lower. In the first few months of aerobic training, you slow down your running pace. This way you give your muscles, ligaments and tendons time to properly develop. Once your aerobic base develops and your pace increases slowly over time, your body is ready to run at a faster pace.

Sunrise run in the forrest, best way to start your day!

GW: What did your training look like before you started this?
FG: I used to run pretty irregular; some months I wouldn’t run at all, other months I’d run once or twice a week. Before May 2013, I trained often at 7:00 or 7:30 min / mile on road and 9 ish min / miles on trails. My pace during most runs was too high, so my runs felt hard and not very enjoyable.

GW: How did you change your running after you heard about the Maffetone method?
FG: With this Heart Rate Monitor Training, at first I had to slow down significantly to about 8:30 min / mile on road and 11 to 13+ min / miles on trails. I’m not going to lie, it was frustrating at first because I was used to running fast and now I had to hold back while other runners were passing me. Patience is the most important thing here. After 1 month of HRM training, I dropped 38 seconds per mile at the same HR. This was such an eye opener, to run much faster with the same or less effort.

GW: What was your PR before and after training this way?
FG: A few years back I ran my first marathon race and bonked at mile 19, I finished it in 4 hours 11 minutes. In October 2013, after 5 months of HR training, increased miles and improved nutrition, I ran a 2:55:03 marathon. PR-ed by 76 minutes.

In 2012 I ran a 1:46 half marathon and bonked because I didn’t train smart and went out too fast. In October 2014 I ran a 1:20:01 half marathon.

GW: What nutritional changes have you’ve made to improve your running?
FG: Nutrition is really the foundation for performance and recovery. Until early 2013 I had never paid much attention to what I ate or drank. Then I decided to eat a lot healthier. I cut out all refined carbohydrates, no more bread, pasta, pizza, chips. etc. I also cut out milk, coffee, alcohol, soda, fruit juices, most fruits, sweets, potatoes and rice.

The reason for me to do this was to change my body metabolism to burn fat instead of glycogen. When you eat refined carbs, your body produces a hormone called insulin, which slows down fat burning. As soon as you get rid of refined carbs, it takes your body 2 meals before it shifts into a high fat burning metabolism. This happens very quickly, my energy levels increased, I slept much better and didn’t have fatigue headaches anymore.

Nowadays my meals consist of: veggies like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots etc, salads, tuna, salmon, bacon, chicken, beef, burrito bowls, avocados, egg whites, beans, lentils, bananas, nuts, chia seeds, almond milk, coconut water, green tea and a lot of water. I use a Vitamix blender every day with mostly loads of veggies.

GW: How has running a sub-3 hour marathon changed the way you look at training and racing?
FG: There are a lot of so called experts out there claiming you need to put in many fast miles to become a faster runner. I just didn’t want to believe the NO PAIN – NO GAIN mentality.

I decided to slow down in my training pace to eventually become a faster runner with less effort. It was a nice confirmation when I ran a 2:55 marathon with mostly aerobic training runs and minimal speed work, this Maffetone Method works and it’s fun and enjoyable.

GW: What does running mean to you?
FG: Running to me is a feeling of freedom, clearing your mind in nature with friends or alone. Being present in the current moment and thinking about nothing else. It’s a reset button for my mind, a natural chill pill. Sometimes I feel stressed, angry or sad, a 30 minute run can change my mood entirely, it’s rad when that happens.

Running up Mt Baldy, photo by David Villalobos

GW: How do you balance training with family and career?
FG: I’m not going to lie, it can be pretty tricky to balance 2 start up businesses with a family life. Last year my business partner and I co-founded an online photo printing business Aika Collective and my wife and I run an online stationery business together called Love vs Design. My daughter is 22 months old and I’ve run 1500+ miles with her in the stroller, we take breaks to play by the beach or feed the ducks, it’s fun. In the weekends I usually get up pretty early for my longer runs.

GW: What are some of your proudest moments in your running career?
FG: On June 21st 2014 I left my house in Long Beach at 2am and I ran 100 miles south to San Diego in 17 hours 47 minutes. This was a solo running mission, so there was no crew, pacers or support, just me running with a backpack with water and food + Go Pro Cam.

It was the ultimate test to see how far I could push myself, always keeping my Heart Rate below 149. At mile 62, on Camp Pendelton after about 9 hours of running, I hit the wall for the first time. It was a physical and mental battle to keep moving forward. After a bottle of Coke I was able to run again for many more miles. At mile 81 I hit the wall for the second time, but I didn’t want to give up. A few miles later I was running again. I was so happy to make it to San Diego in time to take the last train back to Long Beach!

GW: What’s your next goal?
FG: I’m running Boston in April 2015 and I’d like to run it in 2:45. I’ll probably sign up for a race later in the year, I haven’t decided which one yet.

GW: What would you say to someone who wants to run a faster marathon, but can’t wrap their head around running slower to get faster?
FG: It takes patience, but try it for 4 weeks and see your progress. A lot of people try this for a week or less and give up because they have to take walk breaks to lower their Heart Rate, or they have to jog very slow. This means your fitness level needs to improve and that’s very normal. Give it some time and you’ll see the benefits soon enough.

A heart rate monitor takes the guess work out of training and can help increase your aerobic speed. It can also help prevent injury and burn more body fat.

GW: Where can people find out more about you?
FG: My Flotography blog has several running articles about Heart Rate training and nutrition. All my runs are tracked on my Strava account. If you have any questions at all, just leave me a comment below.

Learn much more about RUNNING FASTER WITH LESS EFFORT! Many exciting articles in the works, be the first to hear about new posts, giveaways and exclusive content.  

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37 Comments

  1. Joanna February 6, 2015

    Hello,
    Thanks very much for this article and for your other blog posts. I’ve been following your advice on running a sub-3 hour marathon with a lot of interest as I’m going to attempt going under 3 hours at the Zurich marathon in April. I’m 43 years old and have been following a training programme that sounds similar to yours for the past year. Most of my training runs are done at a heart rate of between 130 and 140 bpm. I’ve recently started adding one session each week of shorter intervals (repeats of between 30 seconds and 5 minutes) and the occasional tempo run. Can I ask you what kind of speed work you do? Also, do you eat during longer training runs? Thanks very much and greetings from chilly Europe.

    Reply
    • floris February 7, 2015

      Hi Joanna, that’s very exciting that your goal for Zurich is sub 3. Typically I don’t do much speed work, however soon I’m nearing the peak training period for my Boston marathon in April. Then for several weeks it will be on Tuesday 12 x 400’s with 1 minute rest, or 6 x 800’s with 2 min rest, or 4 x 1600’s with 4 min rest, or 3 x 3200’s. On Saturday or Sunday I’ll do a longer run with some miles at LT, for example 9 miles aerobic and then finish with 3 miles at LT, or 12 aerobic / 4 LT or 15 aerobic / 5 LT.

      Depending on the weather, pace and terrain, I usually don’t bring any water or gels on runs below 13-15 miles. Last Sunday I ran a 17 miler and I took 1 gel at mile 9 with some water at a fountain. If you eat healthy and train at low HR, you can also train your body to rely less on taking in calories on your longer training runs. This will come in handy on race day.

      Have fun with your training for Zurich these coming months!

      Reply
  2. Samiad February 7, 2015

    Awesome post, has given me the desire to revisit heart rate training. I used to do it with great success, but decided to move to a pace based approach to my marathon training (my first marathon). That backfired, as I picked up an achilles injury. I feel that if I had stuck to heart rate training, I’d have not injured myself.

    Reply
    • floris February 7, 2015

      Glad to hear that Samiad! That’s good you’ve already experienced great success with HRM training. Sorry to hear about your achilles injury.

      The pace based approach is a tricky one, since it doesn’t give you any feedback about how you feel each day. If you a cold, feel stressed, didn’t sleep well, overtrained, etc you’ll notice an elevated resting or active HR. This bio feedback from your Heart Rate Monitor should impact the intensity of your training.

      Give it another go, sounds like you’re ready for it!

      Reply
  3. Samiad February 7, 2015

    p.s. if you had any nutrition examples from your diet (like, specific examples) I’d really appreciate hearing about it

    Reply
  4. floris February 7, 2015

    Hi again Samiad,

    Nowadays my meals consist of veggies like spinach, broccoli, cauliflower, carrots etc, salads, tuna, salmon, bacon, chicken, beef, burrito bowls, guacamole, avocados, egg whites, beans, lentils, bananas, nuts, chia seeds, almond milk, coco nut milk, green tea and a lot of water. I make a lot of shakes as well with fruits.

    This morning for example I had a shake with some veggies (carrots, tomato, zucchini, carrot, apple and almond milk) + I made some some eggs with beans and spinach. I’ll have enough leftover for an early lunch as well.

    In the next few months I’ll be posting more examples and recipes. If you subscribe to my newsletter at the bottom of this blog post, you’ll receive an email when new nutrition examples will launch.

    Cheers!

    Flo

    Reply
  5. ivy February 7, 2015

    I’d love to try your recipes… thank you in advance!!!

    Reply
    • floris February 16, 2015

      Hi Ivy,

      I’ll be posting some recipes in the coming months. Stay tuned!

      Cheers,

      Floris

      Reply
  6. Matt February 8, 2015

    Hi again Flo,

    As I understand physiology, I don’t think our bodies make much of distinction between fruit sugars and other forms of sugar. Did u cut fruits for a while as well when starting out?

    I noticed things like bananas, pears and apples in the food pic. To force the body to do use fat and protein for fuel, fruit sugar would also need to be cut, wouldn’t it?

    BTW, one incidental .. benefit(?) of cutting all carbs is that it forces the liver to convert protein into sugar, which burns lots of energy and can aid in weight loss as per the ATkins style diets. Our brains run on sugar alone, so our bodies make it from ‘scratch’ if we stop ingesting all sugars and starches.

    Looking forward to some recipe favourites 🙂

    Reply
    • floris February 16, 2015

      Hi Matt,

      Good observation. The apples, pears and bananas are partly for me and also for the rest of the fam. I didn’t cut out fruits entirely, however I am careful that my shakes are almost entirely veggies with maybe a banana or apple added to it. I think that fruit in moderation is totally fine.

      Will keep you posted on future recipes in the coming months.

      Cheers!

      Flo

      Reply
  7. Dan February 10, 2015

    Flo, thanks for your articles. i have been training for the last couple of months on a low heart rate plan loosely based on the Maffetone plan. I have also been eating a low carb ketogenic diet. I am planning to run a marathon in April. I’ve been a runner for 13 years, but most of my marathons have been around 4hrs. I have been hoping to break a 3:30, but have been a little discouraged that my long runs are still around a 9:45 pace (trying to keep my avg HR under 140). I’ve done a couple of 20 milers so far, but i am hoping to get in several more over the next 8 weeks. I never check my pace on my shorter runs during the week, but about one day a week, I run about 7-8 miles with a faster group. I think those are around an 8min pace and they seem to be getting easier. i think i will try doing the MAF test about once a month from now on to check my progress. It helps a lot to see this working so well for you.
    Thanks
    Dan

    Reply
    • floris February 16, 2015

      Hi Dan, great to hear you’ve been training with a low HR most of your runs. You mention you’re a bit disappointed with your pace progress. When I listen to your story, 2 things stand out right away:
      – you run once a week 7-8 miles at a high HR, that’s a long time to be at a high HR.
      – you run 20 mile runs at 9:45 ish pace = 3 hours 15

      Both of these things add a lot more stress to your body than when you’d only run aerobic and you’d keep you long runs to 2 – 2.5 hours max. Any time longer than that, will bring minimal returns with much higher chances of injuries and additional stress on your body.

      If you really want to build a solid aerobic base, I’d hold off on the fast group runs entirely for a few months, or see if there is a way to find another running who wants to slow down. Then cut your 3+ hour marathon training runs shorter. You could go for a 30 min warm up + 30 min cool down walk, or do a 2 hour run on Saturday, followed by a 60 – 90 min run on Sunday.

      Hope that helps. If you have any other questions, just let me know!
      Cheers,
      Flo

      Reply
      • Dan February 26, 2015

        Thanks for the feedback Flo. I have cut out the weekly fast run with my co-workers and reduced my long run this last week to 2 1/2 hours. Also did my first MAF test this week and ran very steady 138 HR for the whole run at 8:24 pace so I’m curious to see how it will be next month.
        Thanks for your help. The video interview with Phil Maffetone was very helpful and inspiring.
        -Dan

        Reply
        • Dan April 19, 2015

          Hi Flo,
          Just wanted to thank you again for your inspiration. I completed my marathon, but ended up 6 minutes short of a PR. My energy level felt off the whole day and I’m convinced it was that i was exposed to the flu a couple days prior at work- was sitting right next to my boss in a meeting and my symptoms have followed his exactly. I got sick right after the marathon and still have the flu. I’m looking forward to recovering though and resuming my low HR training. Good luck in Boston tomorrow.
          -Dan

          Reply
  8. Sandeep Krishna February 13, 2015

    Hey Floris,
    Would it be okay if I can share the content of this interview in whole with my running group (email list) with the link to the interview right at the top? I have been introducing my running group (Hyderabad Runners, 1200 strong running group based in Hyderabad, India) to the concept of base training/ aerobic running and this interview is PERFECT (and so concise) to demonstrate how MAF training can transform a runner! 🙂
    Cheers dude!!

    Reply
    • floris February 23, 2015

      Hi Sandeep, of course, feel free to share any of the content from my website with your running group. That’s a solid size group you have there. If any questions come up at all from you or from your running group, just let me know! Cheers!!

      Reply
  9. Will March 1, 2015

    Great article Floris! I am really inspired by your training success! What does a typical training week look like for you? Hours/Mileage? etc. Thanks Floris and continued success!

    Reply
    • floris April 22, 2015

      Glad you liked it Will! A typical training week depends on what I’m training for. I just trained for the Boston marathon for 15 weeks and ran between 50 up to 80 miles per week. Here is my Strava that includes all my runs so you can see the hours / mileage: https://www.strava.com/athletes/1329785 Thanks and cheers!

      Reply
  10. Mark Beattie April 20, 2015

    Congrats Floris on the sub 2:45 at Boston 2015! Nice work and inspiring stuff!

    Reply
    • floris April 22, 2015

      Thank you Mark, it was a fun race! Glad you find it inspiring stuff! Cheers!

      Reply
  11. Nikhil August 24, 2015

    Hi Floris,

    This is a very compelling article and after having implemented the maffetone method for the last 3 weeks or so I am feeling much better, i.e, less fatigue and higher energy levels. Thanks !

    My anxiety of improving as a runner quickly is what makes me ask this. I have started running in the last 6 months and currently am a very slow runner. My question is how long did it take you to reach from 4 hour marathon to a sub 3 hour marathon. How much % Maffetone method contribute in this period? Alternately, had you substituted a maffetone method right from the word go(100%), do you think you would have reached the sub-3 hour finish earlier than what you achieved?

    Cheers & wish you all the best !

    Reply
    • floris September 8, 2015

      Hi Nikhil,

      So stoked to hear that you’re feeling much better running this way! I totally understand where you’re coming from with your questions. I ran my 4 hour marathon in 2007, then I was so over it after that, that I didn’t run for several years. I started irregular running again in 2012, then in May 2013 I decided to run another marathon again and started running with this Maffetone low HR approach. I improved my diet, ran consistent higher mileage weeks at low HR, improved my fat burning and lost about 25 pounds. That combined made me a faster runner. Then in October 2013 after 5 months training at MAF I ran my first sub 3 hour marathon in 2:55.
      I wish I would have started running at low HR earlier, however I also think it’s good to experience some very shitty races first to realize you need to find a better more pleasant and fun approach. That’s how I see my journey with this MAF way of running.

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

      Cheers!

      Flo

      Reply
  12. Caleb September 11, 2015

    Hi Floris,

    A friend told me about your stuff earlier this week and it’s really making me think. I’ve run two marathons but still do not eat well and sustain a lot of body fat. Your findings confirm a lot of things I’ve suspected for a long time, especially about pushing yourself to the point of exhasution vs building a great base. So I’m definitely excited to experiment with a heart-rate monitor.

    My main question concerns diet, though, since the diet you describe in your posts sounds like it could get very old because it lacks variation. What has your experience been with this? There are only so many different ways to eat meat and vegetables. Do you just discipline yourself, or have you found ways to make your diet interesting?

    Another question concerns weight training. I lift a good deal and weigh 185, so while the idea of getting rid of excess body fat definitely sounds attractive, I really don’t think I want to develop myself as a runner at the expense of upper body strength. It often seems like an either / or situation, but I don’t want it to be. If a heavier / stronger upper body keeps me from becoming an elite runner, that’s ok. I understand that weights can take you into an anaerobic heart rate, but what if I used a heart rate monitor in both running and weight training? This would entail less strenuous lifting, I’m sure, but it might avoid muscle atrophy in the upper body areas where I’ve worked a lot, and even contribute to the development of a strong aerobic base. Maybe? What’s your perspective on this?

    You’ve done amazing work. I definitely appreciate any help you can provide. Thanks!

    Caleb

    Reply
    • Flo February 5, 2016

      Hi Caleb,

      Good questions! Once I started eating this way, I found there are many ways to mix up recipes with these ingredients. Also once you cut out processed carbs and refined sugars, your body doesn’t have cravings like you normally might have. So I can eat the same meals for weeks in a row and be very content with it. Not everyone can do this, so finding creative recipes will help.

      I wouldn’t use a HRM for weight training. If I do any strength training, I typically do small amount of repeats 6 – 8 with at least 3 minutes break in between, this keeps my HR low.

      Hope that helps!

      Cheers,
      Flo

      Reply
  13. Vikash Malik October 24, 2015

    Hi Floris

    Very nice blog and wonderful tips. Inspired by yourself, I am trying to follow the MAF method to develop my aerobic base. Thank you so much for your posts. Marathon PR:3:19 Half PR: 1:29, i would really like to run sub 3:00 marathon, how much time you think i gotta invest to achieve that with this method. I did MAF test yesterday and it was 8:16 mins/mile (ave for 5 miles) but it was not super easy for me but not that difficult too. Any advice, comments? Thanks again

    Vikash

    Reply
    • Flo February 5, 2016

      Great job on your marathon and 1/2 marathon results! You’re already at a 1:29 1/2 marathon which means you’re in the right direction for sub 3. Good job on doing your maf test. 8:16 min / mile is a good foundation. I highly recommend you just run aerobic for at least 3-6 months and do monthly MAF tests to see your progress. This should help bring down your aerobic pace significantly which will help your race results. Once you feel you’re not progressing enough, and you feel your body isn’t sick, tired, stressed, then add some interval training 1 or 2 x per week, 15 – 30 minutes max for 3 – 4 weeks.
      Once your aerobic pace drops to 7 min / miles or below, go for a 20 mile test run at 6:50 min / mile pace and see if you can maintain. If so, you’ll be in good shape for your sub 3 hour marathon! 🙂

      Hope that helps. Have fun with your training. Let me know if you have any other questions.
      Cheers

      Reply
  14. sersdeadluty.science November 2, 2015

    Understand that racing is an art, not just a game. Becoming a fast runner requires both dedication and plenty of relevant and consistent practice. A concentration on good posture, good technique and a focus on strategies, will ultimately help you to become a faster runner.

    Reply
  15. Jeff November 13, 2015

    Hello
    I am running my first marathon in 16 weeks. I ran 2 halfs way to fast and want to give heart rate training a try. Do you have any 16 week training plans you like to follow. My goal is to qualify for boston in a year or so. Did my first heart rate run yesterday and it felt great. Thanks for the time!

    Reply
    • Flo February 5, 2016

      Hi Jeff, hope the training for your march marathon is going well. Patience is key with HR training, so slow down in your training and racing. My 16 week training plan would be to only run aerobic for 3 months, then if all feels good but you’re regressing in MAF test progress, then add some intervals, but still run mostly aerobic.
      Going from running your first marathon to qualifying for Boston is a massive step. Take 1 step at the time and be patient. Going out way to fast in a race will just make it a miserable experience. Your goal for your first marathon should be to complete it and to have fun with it, don’t worry about time, that will come in future races.
      Keep up the good work with your HR training! Cheers

      Reply
  16. Mohd Yusuf March 28, 2016

    Hi Floris,
    I have been hearing all good things about MAF method. I have been doing MAF for a bit more than 3 months now (with 50k race right after month 1 of MAF). I noticed it took me 3 weeks to get back to running efficiency post 50k race. Other than that race, I have been really disciplined in running all under my MAF HR.

    It is however disheartening to learn this morning I had to work real hard for a 9.6miler with a friend averaging 8:40 pace (on flat) maxing out HR at 185bpm around mile 9. Four months ago (prior to MAF), I did a 9miler at 7:52 avg pace maxing 166 HR at the end on similar flat course. I had also noticed two weekends ago that I lost climbing efficiency, I could only walk a mountain that I used to be able to run at MAF at least about 50% of it.

    My MAF test started initially around 9:30 avg pace for 5 miles, now plateauing at around 8:50 pace for almost a month. Have I been training too low of a HR? I am 32, so my number is 148. I have been running for two years now, only got hurt from ITB a year ago, which I have since fixed with regular core routine and quicken my cadence to 190-ish. Should I consider adding 5 to the number?

    My mileage has been consistent around 30-40mpw. I used to do at least a tempo run a week, and occasionally mile repeats prior to doing MAF. I consider my diet has been quite clean, even before I started MAF. No grains, no sugar. Eggs, avocado and a little cheese for breakfast, chicken/salmon/beef for dinner. Salad with breakfast and dinner. Lunch is a little heavy cream and almond milk in my tea. I still drink organic no rSBT, no antibiotic milk, but I plan to stop that too. I do not carry food during runs and typically do most runs fasted from the night sleep. I can go 3-4hrs on long runs without food (just water), but not sure if they are just grit or I am really burning fat.

    I am really lost at this point. Any recommendation would be much appreciated.

    Reply
    • MOHD YUSUF April 1, 2016

      Okay, it has been few days since that run and my nerves have settled (a bit). I found a low heart rate community over runningahead forum and read their LONG and informative FAQs. It turns out, yes, one can lose the top end speed for short distances doing MAF training. I didnt know that it is normal, just to hear it could happen make me feel better.

      I am in this for the long haul, my target is to get faster at marathon and beyond. Sure, i would love a speedier half-marathon, but that can wait 🙂 . Two days after that “tempo” run with a friend, i did my MAF test again. Turns out, i have cut down close to 1min/mile (for 5 miles) since I started (which was a little over 2 months ago, not 3 months i said earlier, I am sorry, the nerve was talking). I came from 9:33 pace to 8:36 pace; that’s very assuring. That includes about 3 weeks of regression post-50k race. Wow.. I am glad I am trying this method.

      Runningahead forum said I get three whiny “oh-why-my-pace-is-slow” posts (before people will tell me to suck it up), previous comment counts as one. LoL.

      Reply
      • BusyFeet May 5, 2016

        Hi Flo,

        I ran the OC half-marathon this year and I was surprised with the result. My last half-marathon before this was October, 2014 and I ran 1:52 and change. I started running again on January 2015, and used my HR for training. When I run at around 9:30 min/mile, my BPM hits in the higher 150s or sometimes low 160s. This was really frustrating since if I follow the formula 220 – my age, running aerobic, I would probably have a 140BPM. I slowed down for 3 to 4 months, and I was able to have low 140BPM while running 9:15 to 9:30 min/mile. I’ve been building my base from January 2015, starting at 15 miles/week, until I get to around 40 miles/week January 2016. At this time, when my BPM is around 135 to 140, my speed is at 8:30 to 9:00, the cold weather helped to be honest. But I can see a big improvement right there. From Feb 2016 up to the end of April, my fastest run was an 8-miler with a 140BPM. There were at least 2 times that I run 2 miles at 7:55 min/mile but that’s about it as I was so comfortable running aerobically.

        As I said, I ran the OC Half last week and my time was 1:41:01. I could have broken 1:40 if I didn’t really start slow on my first mile which was 8:30 mins. Then after the first mile, every mile was run less than 8:00. My first mile, I had a 137BPM, 2nd and 3rd mile, it was 152BPM. The remaining miles, the BPM were from 152 to 167. If I wasn’t worried that I would crash in the later miles, I would have gone faster I guess. I was worried because during my previous runs, I never experienced running, 7:30 min/mile for 6 miles, but at that time I was flying, I felt really good and was not panting.

        Anyway, I’ve read this post last year and was one of the reasons that I pursued HRM Training and I’m glad I did it since it appears that it has worked for me. Thanks!

        Reply
        • floris May 12, 2016

          Hi BusyFeet, congrats on a very solid OC 1/2 marathon, that’s a very strong 11 minute PR!! I was at the OC 1/2 marathon so I probably cheered you on from the sidelines! Good that you trained at a lower HR, that definitely helps improve your aerobic base. It’s a fine line in a race between how hard you can push it and leaving gas in the tank until the finish line. Sounds like you planned it out well. Keep up the HR training and you totally got sub 1:40 next!

          Cheers, Flo

          Reply
      • floris May 12, 2016

        hahaha, awesome comment MOHD YUSUF and glad to hear the low HR runs are working for you. 1 min / mile in a little over 2 months is a great improvement! Imagine sticking to this approach for 1 year 🙂 Stay patient and your pace can improve much further. Cheers! Flo

        Reply
    • floris May 12, 2016

      Hi Mohd Yusuf,

      From your follow up comment it sounds like you’ve been making good progress on your MAF tests. Patience is absolutely key. I don’t think you’re training too low of a HR. If you’re ever in doubt between 2 Heart Rates, I’d pick the lowest one. Your food sounds pretty clean indeed. Make sure you get enough sleep as well.

      Stick to MAF training the coming months and see how your aerobic pace progresses.

      Cheers,
      Flo

      Reply
  17. ArtMoney July 11, 2016

    Fast runners are valued in sports such as football, basketball and soccer. If you run fast, many people will think you are in better shape than those who run slower than you do. Genetics causes some people to be slightly faster than other people. Fortunately, if you aren’t very fast, you can train yourself to increase your speed. With effort and consistent practice, you can start winning races and your teammates will start to see you as an important member of the sports team.

    Reply
  18. Shivam Aggarwal November 15, 2016

    It was amazing to travel through your running journeys!!
    How do you consume your veggies?Raw or boiled
    What is the best time and quantities to consume nutrition?
    How does cutting down on fruits,milk and rice help,isn’t it supposed to be helpful being ric source of protein too.
    Thanks in advance for your advice.

    Reply

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