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:
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?
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.