The MAF Method by Dr Philip Maffetone

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    The MAF Method by Dr Philip Maffetone

    Has anyone run across Maffetone or his MAF Method for fitness? MAF stands for Maximal Aerobic Function and the program is a combination of nutrition, exercise and stress management. Maffetone has a website with information and you can download a 57 book on his method.

    A lot of the stuff all of us know, but the central part of the method is something he calls MAF 180, which is a rule you use to determine your MAF heart rate. Start by subtracting your age from 180 (for me, 117). Then there are four modifiers (recovering from surgery, -10) so my MAF heart rate is 107.

    The resulting heart rate is the high end of the HR range with the low end 10 beats below, so I am 97 to 107, for now.

    Maffetone's idea is that this is used to guide aerobic exercise.

    I ran across Maffetone and his work when searching for information on running and I ran into this idea of running slow. Maffetone shows data of a runner who trained by keeping his HR in the MAF range and over the period of four months, the runner shaved time off of his time per mile.

    This seems way out of the norm and I wonder if anyone has run across Maffetone or the running slow paradigm. I'm curious as to what the Hive thinks.

    #2
    I’ve just finished three months of my variation of the MAF Method. (My heart rate is naturally high, so the formula doesn’t work for me. Instead I used zone 2 on my Garmin, which is about 10bpm higher than the result of the formula.)

    I think some background will probably help: at the start of the year, I was running at basically one speed regardless of distance. I got burnt out, frequently injured and generally fatigued. So I decided to give low heart rate training a shot.

    Initially, I hated it. I had to take walk breaks every couple of hundred metres just to keep my heart rate low. My running pace was only marginally faster than a walk (over 8min/km, or about 13min/mi). I considered quitting and going back to my old paces.

    Fast forward three months, and I’m running at paces between 6.15min/km and 7.30min/km (10min/mi – 12.4min/mi). I still have to walk up some hills, and my pace is still not fast, but I think learning to run slowly (and enjoy it) has been a game changer for me. I’m running more than I have in my life, with zero injuries since I started low heart rate training, and I have so much more energy.

    My plan was to try running slowly for three months, and I did. This week I’ve started adding in some speed work again, but the majority of my running will still be at a low heart rate, because I know it works for me. I can do high mileage now (I'm even training for an ultramarathon) without injury or fatigue.

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      #3
      Thanks, Silent Wolf for the posting of your experience. It sounds like you have been practicing the MAF method. My heart rate is low, I've never really run distances at all, but I'm recovery from surgery and I've had this idea of trying to do a 5k. I wonder, I wonder if the MAF method will help me get there. Thanks again.

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        #4
        xingyiquan told me about Prof. Tanaka's idea of slow jogging (he wrote a book about it) and the niko niko pace. Might also be an interesting additional read.

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          #5
          I did it for Marathon training. It was v frustrating as I also have a high heart rate and was training in hot weather which didn’t help. I never managed to get my speed back but I completed my marathon (cross country with lots of hills) and didn’t hit the wall so I’d say it’s worth it!

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            #6
            Good luck. I do think the idea of building aerobic fitness makes a lot of sense personally. ultimately anything that helps you get on track is worth a shot.

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              #7
              Thanks, Who knows? and Nebulus . I can see where this pace could be frustrating, but I've never been a runner and I'm curious enough to see if it will help me develop even some small routine.

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                #8
                Thanks a lot for tagging me Nebulus .
                MAF or Niko niko running don't have to be slow in relative terms... eg my MAF pace is below 4.30 min/km . The thing is rather that your heart and body dictate your pace and not your ego and willpower hence the frustration as well it takes time to progress hence my advice to focus on time run first and foremost rather than speed or distance. Results come over time and are very solid. Other methods might work too but I am not an expert though I see many people doing interval, pace etc but few hold either distance or speed or have no physical issues

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                  #9
                  You MAF technique is basically what endurance runners use. Very low effort runs, with low heart rates for long periods. Great results but super hard to go slow enough. Its counter intuitive but as you can attest, it works.

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                    #10
                    Thanks for the information, Rathgar . That's really good to know.

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