MAF Test #2

Welcome back to my adventures in MAF training!  You may or may not remember that I did my first MAF test 4 weeks ago, during which I got an idea of my baseline fitness.  It’s recommended that MAF testing be performed at regular intervals to track improvement (or lack thereof), so I decided to do my 2nd MAF test yesterday morning.  Briefly, here’s how to execute a MAF test:

  • warm-up for 2 miles, targeting 10 beats per minute (bpm) below aerobic max HR (for me, this is 128 bpm)
  • run 1-5 miles at aerobic max HR (138 bpm for me)
  • cool-down, during which I target 133 bpm

Before I get to the test, let me recap how MAF training has been going.  The basic structure of my training is as follows:

  • Mon: rest
  • Tues: 1 hour run (1 mile warm-up, MAF miles, 1 mile cool-down)
  • Wed: swim, 50-60 min
  • Thurs: 1 hour trail run in the morning, 30-60 min run in the afternoon (training for Ragnar!)
  • Fri: rest
  • Sat: 2 hour long run
  • Sun: cross-training at gym – usually 45 min bike
  • Throughout the week: foam rolling, strength exercises 2-3 times/week

The first 2 weeks were frustrating as I saw almost no improvement.  Since then, however, my hour long runs have been getting better — i.e., I’m seeing faster paces at the same or lower HRs.

Here’s a table showing the average pace and HR from my Tuesday morning runs:

A summary of my Tuesday morning runs.

You can see from the table that the average pace has decreased substantially in the last 2 weeks.

Coming off a pretty decent set of runs this past week, I was hopeful that MAF test #2 would show significant improvements.  I woke up yesterday morning to weather conditions almost identical to those 4 weeks ago – a very good sign, because the lower the number of variables between tests, the better.  To keep things even more consistent, I ran almost the same exact route as I did for the first test.  The results?

MAF tests copy

Compared to test #1, my average pace was 56 seconds faster, and my overall time was faster by 3m42s.  I was pleasantly surprised to see a drop in pace as the run progressed – usually, it’s the other way around.  Moreover, I didn’t push very hard to keep HR at 138 for the first 3 miles, which suggests that I probably could have run a bit faster.  Yesterday was also the first time I saw sub-11 minute miles during all of MAF training, which made me feel awesome. 🙂

After the MAF test miles, I ran 3.3 more miles for a total 9.3 for the day.  To keep my HR 133 or lower, the pace for my final mile was 12:34 — slow for me, but much faster then the penultimate mile of my previous long runs, which have been all around the 14:00/mile range.

I’m really happy with how MAF/low HR training has gone so far, and I’m excited to see how the rest of this experiment will play out.  It definitely doesn’t hurt to see significant improvements in fitness and performance in a relatively short period of time.  Most importantly, I’m continuing to build a good running base of ~25 miles/week without significant aches or pains — which is huge in my book.


Howdy! My name is Jen and I live in the San Francisco Bay Area. I like to eat, run, and blog, but not usually at the same time.

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Posted in MAF training
20 comments on “MAF Test #2
  1. Jess T. says:

    Awesome!! Those are definite gains, and I’m glad to see your work paying off!

  2. Jan says:

    That is really amazing and so inspiring!! Do you ever run w/ others? My big hang-up would be that I so often run w/ others and it would be much harder to keep my HR where it needs to be and stay with my running buddies.

    • Jen says:

      Yeah, it would definitely be a challenge this early on in MAF training to run with friends. I don’t have many running friends who live close enough to run regularly with, though, so it hasn’t been a huge issue yet. On Saturday, I’m planning on hiking with 2 friends who are runners but injured/rehabbing, while the rest of our group goes for a trail run. So, I’m making it work for now. I’m hoping to be back on the slow end of my “normal” pace by next month to be able to run socially.

  3. BT says:

    FYI — I’m blog illiterate. My comment on your previous post was intended for this one…

  4. Grace says:

    Wow, that’s some amazing improvement. Just goes to show what dedication and consistency can do!

  5. Sherry says:

    Those are some great improvements, and in a relatively short time too. You’re convincing me to give this a go as well!

  6. misszippy1 says:

    Awesome results, Jen! That’s really great. I think it’s those results that help keep us at it. Think of where you’ll be in a couple of months if you stick it out! Woohoo!

  7. KrisLawrence says:

    Wow, Nice work!! That average pace drop of 56 seconds is huge. That big of a drop in 4 weeks makes me interested to see where you’ll be in four more. I also think it’s interesting that you didn’t notice much improvement in the first two weeks. Isn’t that how long “they” say it takes for a workout to kick in the system. Fascinating stuff!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks, Kris! I also thought the 2-week-no-improvement thing was interesting. I just read Anatomy for Runners and Jay Dicharry, the author, talks about how we can improve neuromuscular connections almost immediately (like muscle recruitment/memory), but real gains in fitness and strength usually take weeks.

  8. Jamie says:

    It’s really useful to see how people are finding different training programs in deciding on how to train, so thank you for creating this post! Got my HRM last week, mile 1 MAF was 07:13 and have been able to run increased mileage without feeling sore/injured. Please keep posting your updates!! J

  9. […] good news is that I saw an overall improvement by almost 20 seconds per mile compared to Test #2 — which, while not as impressive as the drop between the first 2 tests, is still a step in […]

  10. […] seeing some big gains after the first month of MAF training, my progress slowed down in the second month.  I knew that this third cycle of MAF training would […]

  11. bobtsynth says:

    Hi, i found your blog searching for people that has maf close to mine (136p) and see the best result i can find with how much mileage they do. So thank you very much for taking the time to post all those numbers and congratulation. When will you put more data? Here’s my data: maf of 136p (44yo) miles splits average around 8:50 this summer 5k race 19:30 and 10k race 41:17. 3 year of slow mileage grow, until 2 weeks ago began maf training seriously: 55k run/weeks swim 1 x /week. All at 136p (always wu and wd 100-136p 15 min minimum) hope to see more update from you. Have a great time running?

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for reading and for commenting. I haven’t done any more MAF testing/training in a while, so I don’t have any new data to post. However, I found it was a great way to come back slowly from an injury. Best of luck with your training!

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