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Maffetone heart-rate exercise - best way to improve?

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  • Maffetone heart-rate exercise - best way to improve?

    I've recently started using the Maffetone method. I have a heart rate monitor and I want to start running. I am pretty fit in other activities, doing a lot of hiking, biking and almost a year of strength training now. I can ride my bike under my MAF heart rate pretty easily, although pretty slowly. I struggle to walk fast enough to get my heart rate up unless there's a big hill, then it shoots up pretty fast. But running? I can't run at all! I can sort of shuffle along, hovering right under my max heart rate! It's kind of embarrassing.

    I can accept that my aerobic fitness is fairly poor and that I have a lot of work to do, but what's the best way to do it? I really want to work on running. Should I just keep shuffling along? Or should I alternate between a more normal jogging gait, then when the monitor beeps, walk for a while until my heart rate is below my target zone, then jog again?

    If you know the Maffetone method and have any answers, I'd appreciate it.
    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

  • #2
    I would do which ever is more enjoyable... I like hilly trails, walk up the hills, run slowly on the flats and run fast down the hills. This way is much more enjoyable plus I can keep my heart rate at the 180-age very easy by walking when needed. Don't worry if you go over your Maff heart rate a little here and there, try to keep your average heart rate for the whole run on target though.

    I do all my running fasted... helps with getting fat burning adapted. The more miles you put in the faster Maff works...its a great way to improve your fitness without getting caught in the chronic cardio speed trap.

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    • #3
      i've read a lot of Maffetone's stuff, and trained that way on and off for a couple of years.

      If you need to jog, and then walk a while do that. Over time you will be able to jog for longer without the walking. It takes a lot of time but the benefits are great.

      If you want to be able to run, then running is the thing to do. Otherwise any sort of aerobic exercise will do. Sport specific is god though if you have some goals in that area. Just get moving however you like and keep the HR below the limit, walk when you need to.

      A treadmill can work well, or a stationary bike, particularly in the early stages when you are getting your fitness up for this type of work. Lots of people prefer to be outside all the time, so taking hills into account is something you just have to do. Walking is no crime :-)

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      • #4
        Thank you both. I like to do my running during lunch hour. I work near the beach so there is really only one hill, the one that goes down the bluffs to the flats. So all my running is basically on the flats for now. I hope to improve enough to run hillier stuff. Right now even the slightest, barely perceptible hill makes me walk.

        I run on an empty stomach but not really fasted but I'm often hungry when I go out.

        I am enjoying the really super slow running and biking, although it's somewhat painful to run with such a strange shuffling gait. I can really feel the results. It definitely is an aerobic exercise. I feel it afterwards in my chest or my center, like I really worked out hard, like I've worked something that hasn't been worked before. It makes me quite a believer because I can totally see that I have done a great job on my anaerobic fitness but not so much on the aerobic fitness. Explains a lot to me about many of the problems I have had over the years.
        Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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        • #5
          SB, I'm thinking of tracking this Maffetone book down in the library system went I return to the States. I'm intrigued with this method. Keep us posted on how you do with it, I'm curious to see what kind of benefits there might be with a strategy like this. (I also have some killer endurance muscles, but not so much of the other kind - brainfreeze at the moment as to what they're called.)

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          • #6
            You can read pretty much all of what you need on his website. Phil Maffetone, www.philmaffetone.com - Home It does take a bit of digging around but basically his Big Book of Health and Fitness is pretty much all the articles on his website plus a little bit of other stuff that's probably on his website but I haven't found it yet.

            The whole Maffetone method includes his diet, which describes as the Mediterranean diet. It's almost exactly the same as the Primal Blueprint diet but without any carb curve. Your carb intake is based on a Two Week Test, kind of a whole 30 for two weeks, which I think makes more sense than just a general carb curve for the masses.

            The exercise part that I'm doing is specifically for endurance and aerobic fitness. It's a low-heart-rate method, 180 - age is your max heart rate. You supposedly can improve your aerobic fitness by staying under that rate by about 10 beats per minute. Anything faster than that and he says you're working your anaerobic system, not your aerobic one. And if you are working your anaerobic system you are burning sugar for energy. If you are working the aerobic one you are burning fat for energy. I have felt intuitively that this sounds pretty accurate, that I exercise too hard when I do and that I'm probably suffering from overtraining. I had no idea that I would be so sloowwww at such a low heart rate. But you have to start somewhere.
            Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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            • #7
              High intensity intervals etc is part of Maffetone's method too, he just believes in spending a lot of the year creating a big aerobic base as a platform for the more intense stuff. Above his HR ceiling is still aerobic, but you are using more sugars for fuel , and he is really into this use of fat as the primary fuel source. Also, he believes that working at even a high aerobic level causes adrenal stress and increased cortisol stress hormone, and also makes injury more likely.

              Lots of good reasons to keep the HR low a lot of the time and use the fuel source you were designed to use most of the time........FAT

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              • #8
                Well from all the stuff I have read from him, I believe I have all the signs of someone who has been working out at too high an aerobic level for way too long. So that is why I'm giving this a try. I think it will be beneficial for me.
                Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                • #9
                  I have the book and purchased a heart rate monitor and started in. I use it for my walks, hikes, and mountainbike rides which can be epic at times. We have many mountains here on the coast where you can jack your heart rate in a second. A couple of posters offered good advice, if you can't jack your heart rate walking, jog a bit, when you hit your max and go over, walk. My mountainbike rides send my heart rate all over the place, I just try to make sure the greatest percentage of my bike riding is under my age calculated target. I have noticed this is much more enjoyable than the constant killing myself that I used to do.
                  You'll never see the light if you're in someone else's shadow, or said another way, life is like a dog sled team, if you're not the lead dog, the scenery never changes

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                  • #10
                    Yeah, it's way more enjoyable. Even just shuffling along like I have been doing. The cool thing is riding my bike to work, if I just breathe through my nose at all times I stay below my max. I get passed by almost everybody but I don't care. I arrive at work feeling refreshed.

                    Maffetone's pdf about overtraining really resonated with me. I feel I have a lot of the things going on that he mentions in the stage 1 overtraining.

                    A common problem in Stage 1 overtraining is a
                    developing imbalance between aerobic and
                    anaerobic capacity
                    .
                    ...

                    Adrenal gland dysfunction, very common in
                    overtraining, starts in Stage 1. In addition, it
                    typically parallels aerobic deficiency. As Stage 1
                    progresses, athletes may begin to develop fatigue,
                    sleeping irregularities and abnormal hunger
                    or
                    cravings. They may be unable to lose that extra
                    body fat, get sleepy after meals, and have an
                    uncanny craving for caffeine
                    .

                    Nutritional problems may include excess
                    consumption of refined carbohydrates at the
                    expense of healthy fats and protein.

                    Other complains common in the first stage of
                    overtraining include:
                    • Increasing vulnerability to back, knee,
                    ankle, and foot injuries.
                    • Adrenal gland hormone imbalance –
                    slight elevations in cortisol (and
                    secondary lowering of testosterone and
                    DHEA levels.
                    • Premenstrual syndrome and menopausal
                    symptoms may be secondary complaints
                    for women, but amenorrhea is the most
                    common hormonal problem.
                    • Sexual dysfunction may be a problem for
                    both sexes, typically producing reduced
                    sexual desire
                    and sometimes infertility.
                    • Mental and emotional stress, including
                    mild or clinical depression and anxiety is
                    not uncommon.

                    I have or have had in the past (like when I did the PCT) the bolded ones, all very mild.

                    Even if Maffetone is totally all wrong about all this, the lower heart rate training is definitely making exercise more enjoyable than the constant push-push-push I was doing before. I'm like the meanest boss or coach ever, always thinking if I did X yesterday I should be able to do X++ tomorrow. I know that's all wrong but it's been hard to break myself of that. The heart monitor and Maffetone's ideas give me permission to ease up and turn off that mean voice in my head that says, no, you must do even MORE, and at the same time, to feel like I'm actually doing something positive that may result in better health AND performance in the long term.
                    Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                    • #11
                      My first MAF run about 6 weeks ago was an ego crusher - faster than a shuffle, more like a very, very easy jog. Everyone was passing me. I have stuck with it pretty well rarely going over the MAF heart rate for my age. In my two benchmark runs a month apart, I actually was slower on the second. Wtf? I definitely agree that the runs are very contemplative now that I am not trying to work myself into a lather.

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                      • #12
                        Isn't this similiar to what Lance Armstrong did when he was recovering from cancer - lots of LSD (long slow distance). He purported rode his bike very slowly and built up the time he rode rather than the speed. Apparently he rode at a pace that most people can jog at - until he built up to multiple hours - then started adding in some interval or tempo rides.
                        He seems to have done alright by this :-)

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                        • #13
                          Originally posted by twa2w View Post
                          Isn't this similiar to what Lance Armstrong did when he was recovering from cancer - lots of LSD (long slow distance). He purported rode his bike very slowly and built up the time he rode rather than the speed. Apparently he rode at a pace that most people can jog at - until he built up to multiple hours - then started adding in some interval or tempo rides.
                          He seems to have done alright by this :-)
                          Spot on. Too bad the lots of LSD I did in college didn't translate into similar results!

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by OneDeltaTenTango View Post
                            My first MAF run about 6 weeks ago was an ego crusher - faster than a shuffle, more like a very, very easy jog. Everyone was passing me. I have stuck with it pretty well rarely going over the MAF heart rate for my age. In my two benchmark runs a month apart, I actually was slower on the second. Wtf? I definitely agree that the runs are very contemplative now that I am not trying to work myself into a lather.
                            Oh my god talk about an ego crusher. Today three times people made comments to me. Stuff like "Way to go!" "Keep it up!" "Good job!" as if I'm totally new to exercise. It was so embarrassing. I swear I'm not a retard and I'm not brand new to exercise!
                            Female, 5'3", 50, Max squat: 202.5lbs. Max deadlift: 225 x 3.

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                            • #15
                              Been there done that....

                              5 years ago when starting running (or do any sports) "first time in my life, at age of 40" there was just one "gear" i.e. one speed and very high heart rate. Training was "just running" first 500 m, then 1 mile, etc.. with the same speed (or higher, progress you know...) and sertainly heavily in anaerobic zone, and being bypassed was not an option....
                              I did not receive the messages, that I need to run much slower (as I did not get satisfactory why's), until overtraining was apparent... That triggered need to study why should I run so shamely slow...

                              Maffetone is basically helping to get estimate of aerobic threshold level (intensity, where lactic acid generation & removal are in balance and where fat/sugar burning is "switched" from one to other, (not dead-sharply).
                              That threshold is sport dependent, as it's "system" and muscle dependant. e.g. cyclist have good aerobic-system, but running muscles are not conditioned same way as cycling muscles.
                              Below the aerobic threshold body is remowing lactic acid, so if you have done heavy exercise/race,
                              cool-down-run help the body to recover better, or if you have had stressfull day at the office..same thing

                              Conditioning the muscles for good aerobic capasity (e.g. to jog on low heart rate, run roadrunner speeds..) needs repetitive low intensity training, which triggers growth of capillary wains to deliver blood to muscle cells. In "rat-tests", low intensity aerobic zone running increases the smallest diameter capillary wains (to deliver oxygen very effectively) where as high intesity increases bigger capillary wains (to deliver more blood, but oxygen less effectively). Also the increase of mitocondria happends better on low intensity.
                              To my understading, those are the major physical effects which occure e.g. after "LCD's". (there are also chemical changes). And getting them othervise is difficult/impossible.
                              *
                              Starting a running hobby should actual start with just walks (as already indicated) and running should come in the bicture gradually in small portions and on flat/downhill sections (for most modern people anyway). But as 99% of people do, it usually start with too big ambitions.

                              This conditioning, if done patiently, should show results already in 2 months.
                              Here is old related link, which I found when looking measured progress on fat burning vs. hear rate (or something similar)
                              Dr. Deyo | Active Metabolic Test | Metabolic Testing | Slow Metabolism | Fast Metabolism Newport Beach | Active Metabolic Rate | Jason Deyo | Resting Metabolism | Nutrition By Dr. Deyo | Newport Beach | :: Dr. Deyo ::

                              Other major part is the nutrition, so if you plan the train your body for fatburning, don't feed in sugar/catorade/ just before..but this should be obvious here in MDA..

                              When 4 years ago I could barely reach 150 HR (..coming from above, that is) at the end of downhill section, with very slow jog, I can now do slow jog on flat below 120 heart rate and still have +20 beats/2 MPH left in my aerobic zone. 4 years ago my threshold must have been much lower than to day (i.e. already idea of running was anaerobic)

                              I've notized, that it's easier to go very slow when I'm just myself on empty road/path or if I run on treadmill, I quess point being "I know nobody sees how slow I go..". Today I have enough confidence to be the slowest runner on the road...

                              Disclaimer: above is just my interpretations from what I have read, I'm no expert..

                              Good luck ! running is not the easiest sport.

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