MAF Test #3

Here we are, 8 weeks into my MAF experiment, which means that I just did another MAF test this past Saturday.  I knew that going into the test, my MAF training has been very inconsistent, mostly due to Ragnar messing up my schedule for 2 out of the 4 weeks.  I did manage to get a few more data points, so here’s a pretty graph showing my run data from the last 8 weeks:

MAF runs

Ragnar Napa happened in week 6, coinciding with a plateau.  I’m not sure if this was due to the racing aspect (i.e., completely going over my MAF heart rate for 17+ miles) or if it just tired out my body.  Most likely, it was a combination of factors.   Just FYI – the runs on the graph were done on roughly the same courses, with the exception of a couple of runs done on the treadmill.  I used speed instead of pace on the Y-axis to show an upward trend, denoting improvement. #nerdalert  (Hey, at least I didn’t do any statistics!)  If you’re interested in pace instead of speed, here are the numbers:

  • 1 hour runs — Week 1: 12:11/mile; Week 8: 11:07/mile –> 1:07 faster per mile
  • 2 hour long runs — Week 1: 12:22/mile; Week 8: 11:29/mile –> 0:53 faster per mile
  • 1 hour Lake Chabot runs — Week 1: 12:22/mile; Week 8: 11:50/mile –> 0:32 faster per mile

So while I’ve definitely gotten faster at the same HR, the plateauing in the past 3 weeks is bit frustrating.  I’ve noticed that I’ve seen the most improvement after 2 hour long runs, and since I haven’t been doing those over the last couple of weeks, maybe that’s what’s holding me back?  It also took me over a week to recover from Ragnar.

Anyway, on to the nitty-gritty — results from the 3rd MAF test.  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 (4 miles at 138 bpm for me)
  • cool-down, during which I target 133 bpm

We’ve been having a bit of a heat wave, so I compromised between getting enough rest and waking up early enough to beat the heat.  Here’s the data from all 3 tests:

MAF Test table Oct 2014 copy


MAF Test resultsMAF mile splits

The 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 the right direction.  The other thing I was happy about was running closer to my pre-injury easy pace for the first 2 miles, which makes me optimistic that MAF training will get me to where I was before I was injured — and hopefully even more fit than before.

The one piece of not-so-good news was seeing a huge drop between the 3rd and 4th miles, which really screwed up my average pace!  It could’ve been the heat or general fatigue, but something happened by the last mile to cause my HR to spike.  Even though the temperature was not that different compared to the first 2 tests, the lack of cloud cover made it feel enormously different.

Going forward, I’m hoping to be more consistent with my MAF training, though it will be difficult to get the hour long runs done before work — I start my new job on Friday!  I think the Lake Chabot runs will be nearly impossible, as it takes me about 25-30 minutes just to drive there and back.  I know I could get up at 5 or 5:30am to fit them in, but I love sleeping too much!  Most likely, I’ll scale down to 30-45 minute neighborhood runs 3x/week with maybe one short, hilly run during my lunch break.  We shall see!



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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13 comments on “MAF Test #3
  1. Jan says:

    This is all so interesting. I think in almost anything early gains are normal and later gains are slower. You are making great progress!

  2. Angela says:

    OK, you know I’m obsessed with data–BRING ON THE STATISTICS!!

    It is pretty exciting to see things trending in the right direction for you. The heat has been screwing me up too–I think you are right to take that into account.

    • Jen says:

      Haha – thanks for the data nerd comradery! There was a moment while I was making the graphs where I was like, “These data points look naked without error bars! How will anyone understand the statistical significance without the error bars to indicate confidence intervals???”

      • Grace says:

        Hahaha! No error bars? Well, you’ll just have to repeat each test a couple more times. On the same day.

        I wouldn’t worry about the plateau if it came around Ragnar/ hot weather/ fatigue other external factors beyond your control. How many more weeks do you have to spend on the MAF base training?

        • Jen says:

          I need some clones to help me with replicates!!! haha

          I don’t know how many more weeks I’ll spend base training. I’ve read that people do anywhere from 3-6 months of MAF base training, but mostly I think it depends on when you start plateauing… or when you get bored out of your mind, which ever comes first. 😉

  3. dlubi says:

    Yay data!!! I also agree with the temperature messing with things as well as general fatigue (Ragnar, interviewing, etc.). If you are focused on building strength and general endurance, maybe keep your running to 1-1.5hrs or less. Save those 2hr+ runs for later when you are building for a long race (those longer runs probably add significant fatigue and require more recovery). Keep up the good work!

    • Jen says:

      Thanks for the comment and support! I actually don’t feel too fatigued after 2 hour runs, and I generally give myself either 1 rest day or an easy recovery workout the day after. It’s when I push beyond 2 hours that usually gets me really tired.

  4. Dominick S. says:

    I feel like I missed the first 6 weeks of Algebra this semester teach. Reading this is like trying to pick up chapter 6.1 when I stopped at 3.1…I need to go back to review first.

    Current mood : confused.

    • Jen says:

      There will be a test this weekend, so you better study up! haha. Sorry for the confusion. Maybe read the other 2 MAF posts and then let me know if you’re still confused? I just didn’t want to repeat myself. Also, I’m lazy.

  5. Colin says:

    Welcome to the world of MAF and nice going. I’ve just returned to MAF myself after a 2 year break. I’m using it to build up a base before I switch back to the Hanson’s Method for the London Marathon last year.

    Good to see your paces are heading in the right direction too. I was initially a bit put off by this, but was soon pleased by the fact I could run almost everyday and still feel relatively fresh.

    You’ll find that as you get fitter and more used to MAF your pace will pick up quite considerably and you’ll be pleasantly surprised. Some people get so attuned to MAF and so fit that they actually have to run slower than the pace within their MAF HR range as it ends up being a hard workout. I’m not there, but would love to be.

    Good luck and keep it up.

    PS. The PDF you reference in your post at is now at

  6. […] 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 be a challenge, as I was starting a new job […]

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