(Stratford upon Avon )
Hello! My wife and I have been trying MAF running for just over a month. We are loving it since your excellent advice to get chest HRM’s! Much more accurate and reliable than the wrist watch. We are already seeing small but steady improvement in our pace whilst maintaining the appropriate HR levels. However, I am a bit of a slave to my Garmin Connect and am always looking at my stats. What I have noticed is that, whilst in the past I was often showing a low aerobic shortage, now I have swung right round. My training load is way down and my status is showing as only recovery. So I don’t get the impression that MAF is improving my overall fitness? I feel like I should mix in some shorter, faster runs to work on my anaerobic also, whilst still mainly doing MAF. maybe applying the 80:20 rule. Previously you have advised that we should stick to only MAF for the first 4-6 months, but I am concerned I will lose overall fitness.
Hi Stuart, your post made me smile because I know someone else who loves looking at their Garmin stats and gets upset when he's in 'recovery' mode or his VO2 max has gone down - my husband!
What you have to understand is that Garmin bases its stats on an algorithm which as well as taking into account easy runs, it also likes to see speed work, lactate threshold runs, a variety of HR zones etc. As you are doing only MAF training, you are only going to be feeding easy runs into the Garmin algorithm so it thinks that you are de-training.
You also have to remember that MAF training is working on your aerobic system. Most people's aerobic system is poorly developed and yet most races rely mainly on your aerobic system. Even a 5k race gets 85% of its energy from your aerobic system. So don't worry that you are losing fitness as by training at MAF you are gaining a stronger aerobic system which will make you a faster and healthier runner.
The only thing I would suggest, is to not shy away from hills or tricky ground that might make your heart rate go up. Still keep working those muscles and train on the same terrain that you might race on. It might mean that you initially have to walk more but over time that will improve. Then when you feel that your MAF pace is stagnating, start to add a small amount of speed work.
In a nutshell, try to not look at your Garmin stats too much and instead judge your progress by how you feel, your MAF pace and any races that you might do.
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