Sunday, March 2, 2008

Sunday Week recap 100 miles.

Today Jeff and GZ came over and we ran 13 miles in a serious blizzard. The snow was blowing side ways.. HR averaged 146.
Week recap:
M- 8 mi
T- 18 mi
W- 18 mi
Th- 20 mi
F- 10 mi
S- 13 mi
S- 13 mi
Ttl- 100 mi
Okay week for me. All of this was to get my legs back in to the rhythm of running.


Matt said...

I've been hitting my sweet spot pretty hard since you and CV bottom-lined it for me. My goal this week is to run a test so I can start to gauge the progress.

At this point I'm maxing at 141, my MAF "score." I want to run this 135-141 type of work-out pretty consistently for a while. But during my test, should I alter that "range"? I would think not. It feels right for the kind of low effort efficiency I'm trying to achieve and it's technically staying the course.

And as I track the tests, I should stay at 135-141 until I plateau, then bump-up to 147 or so?

Thanks in advance for the feedback.

GZ said...

A couple of questions:

1.) How long does one run at this aerobic rate? I am not meaning in terms of time for any one run, but in terms of a block. It seems that TL will run this for the next couple of months. When do you drop doing this and then start doing work above the aerobic HR?
2.) Can any work above the aerobic HR be done in the aerobic work block? If not, why not?
3.) HR naturally goes up when one runs up hill. Does that mean one walks when they hit a hill in order to maintain in the HR zone prescribed?

I have a concern about this type of running promoting LSD ... which promote Long Slow Runners.

... just need some education here.


Lucho said...

Matt- the point of the test is to see improvement in pace at HR 131-141.. so it is crucial that you do not alter the HR. You don't necessarily need to bump your HR once you plateau. In the big scheme of things you may be better off continuing to develop fat burning efficiency. I would suggest that once you do plateau (and it could take many months)you change the training stimulus with an increase in volume- and I mean a BIG increase.. one that causes over load. The other option is to add in tempo work and do 8 workouts over a 4 week block at 2-8 beats below your LT.

GZ- You should run at MAF ("maximum aerobic function" HR. Or 180 - age) as long as it takes for your body to plateau and stop getting faster. VERY rarely do athletes have the patience and discipline to do this- I never have!
You should certainly cap your HR at the top end of MAF, then rarely run below MAF minus 10 heart beats. Running above MAF kicks in your glycogen burning, shuts off fat burning, and you start training very non-specifically for the marathon. The marathon is all about metabolism because you CAN NOT store enough glycogen to make it 26.2 miles so you have to be good at burning fat for fuel. The more often that you run above MAF (during the base period) the more limited you will be in your marathon. The ultimate goal would be to get close (~15"-20") to your goal marathon pace with a MAF HR.
If you need to walk up a hill in order to keep your HR down then either the hill is too steep or you just aren't fit enough, which goes back to the first paragraph I just wrote.
LSD? Would you consider your past marathon results fast? If not- then the type of training that you were doing before is what is LSD.. This type of training is what the Kenyans accidentally do from the time they are 8 years old. This is the type of training that all the great runners have done- the thing that you do not hear about is their HR values.. MAF training puts a scientific spin on it.
There is no secret to running a fast marathon. As I said before- the human body has a specific physiological reaction to the stress of running 26.2 miles and the way that you train will either help you or hurt you. I guarantee that this type of training will help you. Stop running hard and start running more at MAF! Look at my results from Austin.. 2:31 with an average HR of 161 with 50:00 BELOW HR 160.. or look at my last test- 6:10 pace at HR 147.
Also, Chuck left some great comments for Matt a few days ago that are perfect.

GZ said...

Thanks Tim - I really appreciate you sharing this stuff. You said: Running above MAF kicks in your glycogen burning, shuts off fat burning, and you start training very non-specifically for the marathon.

So, does it make a difference if I run at MAF-10 range M-T-Th-Fr-Sun but above MAF on We and Sat? I guess the broader scientific question here is how long the metabolism stays tripped above fat burning once you go into glycogen.

Chuckie V said...

Lucho nails it here guys...

The main thing is it's all about BEING PATIENT, which ain't easy. At least in running you don't have to deal with dickhead cyclists challenging you to a race during every workout. You can get away alone and focus on the task at hand (which was why I headed to Solvang for so many years).

The bottom line is this...

If you have a weak aerobic system (as affirmed by the aerobic tests done at a true aerobic HR), you will benefit from developing it through such means.

GZ...LSD isn't Long Slow Distance for long, but rather Long Steady Distance and eventually Long Speedy Distance. It just takes time for the transformation and most athletes grow too impatient before the transformation even begins.


180-age is your MAF/AeT, whatever you want to call it. Train below this amount (and often near it but NEVER over it) until your running reaches an impasse, as told by the tests. Essentially it means more of this type of training is better, but only to a point. You need to be sure you're recovering in time for the next bout.

If you're slow at your MAF, it only means one thing: you have poor aerobic fitness, no matter how gifted you might be with true speed. MAF is a bit cookie cutter but it works for all but the younger and older folks. Those of us between 25 and 60 can find benefit from it. If it's too cookie-cutter for you, go to a lab, pay the big bucks, and let them tell you what your RQ is...respiratory quotient, which nine times out of ten is identical to your MAF.

It's also important to understand that this is NOT a running program per se, but rather a way to measure/quantify your base. Harder training can take place after this has been established, and it SHOULD. If all you did was MAF-styled training, you'd be in trouble come race day. (This is especially so in running and cycling, but less so in triathlon.)

The real beauty is after you've established a TRUE aerobic base, you can access it quicker and easier the next time around, but this is topic for another day.

Lucho said...

Thanks Chuck.. nice blog post by the way (yours).. I will be re-reading that many times! I will also be discussing it (mostly with myself)in a future post!

GZ- do not go above MAF or else you will go blind. Er, wait- that's something else I think? There's little reason for you to deviate.. it will only limit you! Be patient and commit to this for just 8 weeks.. watch your test results before you decide it doesn't work. Let your pace per mile speak for itself.

Chuckie V said...

You're one of the few people I truly care about, and I want to see you succeed. The point in my write-up was to only help, that's all. We'll use one another not just for friendship but also for consulting. I believe I can help you reach your goals in running, but I also believe there are some fundamental changes that must take place. The patience is a biggie.

I have my own obstacles to overcome and I want more than anything for those who know me to assist when they can! It would be easy for us to just bite our tongues but that's a shallow friendship, if you ask me.

kerrie said...

great comments..i truly feel like i'm learning a lot as you guys really have explained this well.

lucho, any plans yet for when you guys are doing your maf test on the track in lafayette??

Lucho said...

Kerrie- Saturday morning.. but you have to have a HR monitor ;)

GZ said...

Well, at the risk of putting my foot in it again (I feel I made a bit of an arse of meself by questioning someone who questioned whether you should run 100 miles or not) ... and thinking about this stuff a bit too much ...

I get the basic concepts of MAF training but I get a bit lost as to why it is critical to not go above MAF for some period of time. I only run and so it is probably easier to control being at MAF with just running (I think). I wonder if the tri folks out there are challenged to stay below MAF HR in all their sports?

In other words, why not have days where you maximize fat burning (run below MAF) and on other days maximize other systems - including running above MAF?

Thanks again for all the input. I am going to try to make the Saturday session but I am probably going to have to get a new battery in this HR monitor (I use it that little!)


Chuckie V said...

Good question as I've reprinted below...and I don't think you've put your foot in your mouth at all, so let's keep the communication rolling.

…"In other words, why not have days where you maximize fat burning (run below MAF) and on other days maximize other systems - including running above MAF?"

This is not an easy question to answer, but a necessary one. The easy answer is that too much racing or too many anaerobic-styled efforts will interfere with and impede aerobic development (inhibited oxidative enzyme production; impaired slow-twitch muscle fiber development; decreased number and size of your muscle mitochondria; limited stroke volume; etc.), much of which is directly and indirectly measured by your aerobic tests. Keep doing them for your own "lab" results, no matter how you choose to train.

The biggest unwanted physiological change within the athlete's body is essentially that too much anaerobic training will retrain it to rely on glycogen as a fuel source. (Tim and I have both written about this at length in past blogs and I am putting together a bit of a "bible" on MAF training that I hope to post after my spring camps.)

So, then, how much anaerobic stuff is too much?

Well, this is open for debate. Maffetone and Allen preach doing NOTHING above your true maximum aerobic function until test results plateau, whereas I have my athletes do *some* sprints, which by sprint's end has their HR well over MAF HRs, but only briefly. I've personally tried sneaking more anaerobic training into my own routine time and time again, but with undesirable aerobic test results. The sprints, on the other hand, seem to be too short to do any harm (in the cardiovascular sense, as told by the tests) and have been all but proven to help keep the fast-twitch fibers awake, along with working the neurological aspects involved in faster-paced running. They've also been shown to help release more growth hormone into your system. All good things if you ask me.

But there's a fine line as to when enough is enough. Even a lab has a tough time measuring that in the short term. The aerobic tests over a long enough period of time will teach you when this is, but you need to track them continually and religiously, and over a long enough time span.

For a runner, I'd say to stick with it (strictly the aerobic training) if you know your true speed is much higher than your aerobic speed, or if there's no pace relationship between your short races and your longer ones (a 16-min 5K and a 2:52 marathon, for example). Essentially, these things just mean you possess a weak aerobic system and haven't developed it, despite all the training you might have been (or are) doing.

For runners, I'd also recommend doing some DOWNHILL running at MAF, so you can work the aforementioned neurological patterns, but without tapping into an anaerobic metabolism.

Slow running can make you slow, no doubt, but this is not a promotion of slow running, as I mentioned to you earlier in one of the responses here. LSD starts as "Long Slow Distance" but morphs itself into "Long Steady Distance" and eventually into "Long Speedy Distance".

You've probably already seen this when you try hanging with Tim during his long runs, and yet he still has a ways to go as far as aerobic development and improvement are concerned!


GZ said...

Yes - Lucho is downright scary.

I have been researching this a bit. A decent read with 50 questions and answers are at:

I have also been doing some informal polling of some endurance folks as to their take on this. In Boulder, there is no lack of belly buttons so to speak. As you might expect, most people take some sort of blended (or one said multiphasic) approach where they inject in some greater degree of anerobic work.

As you mention in your comment CV, the crux of the issue is how much anaerobic is okay, versus when does it train the body to use glycogen stores instead. I imagine that is a science question that is a.) hard to answer b.) very individualized

And yeah ... my running with Lucho ... you hit it right on.

Thanks for continuing to move the conversation forward.