It’s been way too long since I’ve posted a blog post. There are tons of reasons for this, but I know many of you have been asking for me to pick back up on these, so here you go (though you may change your mind once you read what this one is about).
Ok, so let me start by saying this is NOT an archery related post. As a competitive person, I’ve had to find other outlets for my “energy” this Spring, and it just so happens my friends like to torture me 😉
Anyways, some of you know that after my friend (Lauren) MADE me starting running straight (vs the run/walk intervals I’ve always done), another friend (Mackenzie) FORCED me into a three month MAF training commitment.
I wanted to share my progress with this, but I figured this was too long for a social media post, hence, a blog post. So what is MAF training anyways? Basically, its training to increase your aerobic base. There are a lot of studies on how it can make you faster as an athlete, but more importantly there are a lot of health benefits to it as well. And lets be honest here, I’m never going to be an amazing (or fast) runner, I run for the fitness (and mental) aspect.
So how does it work? The simple answer is you must run below your aerobic threshold, but in reality it’s not so simple. To start you need to know your HR at your aerobic max. This is essentially the point where you just start to “feel” like you are working out and/or can’t hold a normal conversation because you are starting to breathe heavy. There are simple formulas for calculating this (I’m not going to debate how accurate they are for every person). You can use the formula of 180 – your age (plus several corrections for injury, fitness level, health, etc.) to come up with an “aerobic maximum heart rate.” For example when I started this I was 35 so my number was 180-35-145. I hadn’t been sick or injured but had been working out regularly for a few years, so I did not need to add or subtract from this number. The goal is to run as close to this number as possible, without going over.
The first run using this method was anything but a run. Think this is easy? Go ahead and try it! I was running soooooo slow that I actually remember texting my “mean” friends that got me in this mess in the first place to tell them that I actually laughed out loud on the road while “running,” because I started thinking about how ridiculous I must look to anyone passing by.
I definitely wasn’t able to complete my runs without walking. Whether it was an uphill or me just starting to go too fast, my heart rate would always start creeping up, and I’d have to walk to keep it below 145 (or bring it back down if I let it get above). It’s suggested you do a MAF test every month to track your progress because it can be hard to really gauge if you are going anywhere.
My first test (4 miles around a track, measuring speed and hr each mile) made me feel soooooo slow. I could basically walk as fast as I was running, but I had committed to three months, so only up from there, right?
The one surprising thing about the MAF style of running is no matter how long my runs were, I would walk back into the house and feel like I hadn’t even worked out. My muscles weren’t tired. I didn’t feel drained of energy, and, even better, I didn’t want to eat my entire kitchen when I finished 😉
I’m writing this post now because today was my second test. After about five weeks of MAF training (I had taken one week off during the time between tests and then had trouble getting to a track) it was time to see if this annoyingly slow running had actually done anything for me. And here are my results:
What??? I was shocked when I got back from the track and realized how much faster I had gone at virtually the same heart rate. I took more than nine minutes off my total time, dropping my pace by 2:24 minutes per mile! All that to say, I guess this stuff really does work. I’m definitely interested to see where I end up next month, as I’m confident the gains will be much smaller, but as long as I keep moving in the right direction, I will continue to use this training style for the full three months.
One added bonus. I also lost about 2.5 pounds during this time. Usually when I up my running volume I end up gaining weight (or just maintaining if I’m lucky). I also have had no knee pain, which is huge for someone who is knock-kneed like myself and trying to run more than a short distance.
So if you are looking for a “fun” way to increase your fitness, want to get into running, or you’re just a glutton for punishment, I recommend checking out the MAF training method. Feel free to send me any questions you may have, and there are a lot of great resources you can find just by googling MAF training. And with that, it’s time for me to go fling some arrows downrange.