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Heart Rate training and the Maffetone Method

The Maffetone Method and NH runner Larisa Dannis

What is the Maffetone Method for Runners

What is the Maffetone Method for Runners

If you are a running junkie like me then I am sure you heard about New Hampshire Native Larisa Dannis‘ incredible finish at the USATF 50 Mile Championship. She was the women’s winner with the fastest women’s finish time in 20 years. Her pace for 50 miles, 7:11 min/mile. What?!? Yikes! That is crazy fast! To give you an idea of how this compares to what I run, when I ran Boston in 2013 I ran 26.2 miles at and average 8:09 min/mile pace. I cannot even begin to imaging running almost 1 min/mile faster for 50 MILES! Larisa was also the fastest non elite Boston Marathon Runner at the 2014 race with a finish time of 2:44. The crazy thing about her amazing finish times is that she was able to complete her races maintaining an aerobic heartrate the entire time!

Since Larisa is from New Hampshire I have been hearing a buzz about her on the running circuit and how she has gone from recreational runner (and hiker, being a “peak bagger” going after the 4,00 footers and “the Grid”) to a USATF champion in 4 short years. I am intrigued to learn more about her approach to training which is called the Maffetone Method, a heart rate training method developed by Phil Maffetone author of “The Big Book of Endurance Racing and Training.” When I was a rower in college our coach, Mark Davis trained us using heart rate training methods. Every day for practice we would strap on our Polar Heart Rate Monitors to ensure that we stayed in the correct training zones. I wish that I had paid more attention to the philosophy and scientific reasoning behind this. Now my curiosity has been piqued and I am ready to learn more about the Maffetone Method.

What is the Maffetone Method–Larisa Dannis, “I became increasingly efficient aerobically” (UltraRunnerPodcast).

How does the Maffetone Method work?  The Maffetone Method, developed by Phil Maffetone works with his mathematical formaula, the 180 Formula. The 180 Formula is, “180 minus a person’s chronological age, which is then adjusted to reflect their physiological age as indicated by fitness and health factors” (SOURCE).  This method of training is not new by any means but according to Runner’s World is a more unconventional method of training these days.

The Maffetone Method 180 Forumla (Source  httpphilmaffetone.com180-formula)

The Maffetone Method 180 Formula (Source httpphilmaffetone.com180-formula)

According to the Maffetone 180 Formula using my age and the fact that I struggle with ongoing allergies (seasonal, environmental) I would calculate 180-38-5=137 beats per minute. 137 beats per minute should be my maximum heart rate for training at an optimum aerobic level to increase my aerobic base within 10 bpm so my range would be from 127 bm-137 bpm.

According to Larisa Dannis’ interview on the Ultra Runner Podcast as she continued to train at her optimum heart rate zone she found that she while her heart rate remained consistent her paces began to quicken the longer she trained following this method.  Because Dannis relies on her heart rate to tell her how she is doing she does not focus as much on split times therefore not becoming a slave to the watch! I like the idea of this. Sometimes when you become too focused on pace per mile it can create a lot of stress during a race.  Dannis also shares that after two years of strictly training using the Maffetone Method she has added in more speedwork-hill repeats, fartleks, to address the body’s need of being able to work in an anaerobic zone as well.I am still learning about the Maffetone Method and am excited to follow Larisa Dannis’ running journey as she continues to race and tries to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Marathon Trials.

I am curious to talk to my coach Denise Goode of The Sustainable Athlete to see how this might fit into my own training plan. In 2012 when I first qualified for the Boston Marathon I was definitely in an upswing with my racing seeing many PR’s including my Boston qualifier. 2013 after Boston I had to work to regain my running shape after my bout of tendonitis and this year I finally feel like I have regained some speed.  Now that the majority of my racing is done for the year I am excited to refocus and set new goals for next year.  I am hoping to pick up some speed again come next spring and summer and know that I have some work ahead during the winter months.

Have you ever heard of the Maffetone Method? Do you use a specific training method? I’d love to hear all about it!

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16 responses

16 responses

  1. I spent 6 months training via Maffetone’s philosophy and cut :58 off my average mile pace for a 5 mile MAF test at 160 beats per minute average. Very successful, I would say :)

    You mentioned how Larisa added in speed sessions and higher quality running after spending time doing strict MAF training. This is VERY important, as while the Maffetone Method will get you VERY good at running easy, when it’s time to step it up to your aerobic threshold and faster, it’s not very specific to that type of racing, and supplemental high quality training is essential.

    Kyle @ SKORA
    Kyle Kranz recently posted…If You Can’t Be Seen, Forget ’bout the Foot RaceMy Profile

  2. Yes. I did this training method this past summer. It was HARD and super HUMBLING. I pretty much went from a 9 min/mile to a 13 min/mile because of the heart rate in the heat type thing. HUMBLING. Now that it is cooler out I have found that heart rate training is MUCH easier. :)
    Rachel recently posted…Erin Condren Life Planner Review and GiveawayMy Profile

  3. I have never heard of this method before, however it sounds great. Larisa is a beast. Love watching her progress.

  4. I have been training using MAF for the last 18 months and have seen tremendous improvement.

    For me, Maffetone is less of a coach and far more of a teacher and philosopher. As a retired general practictioner, he has always emphasized health before everything else… his philosophy being that the healthiest people doing all the correct lifestyle things will gain the most from training and ultimately become the best athletes.

    MAF works so well for those who buy into it because it forces you to confront the real state of your aerobic system, which for many is shockingly poor. If you ego can take it, then slowing down to build or rebuild your aerobic foundation is a very effective way to improve both fitness and health.

    Love your blog. Peace!
    Van recently posted…Training Log Update – 09.02.2015My Profile

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