Me again! Is this normal MAF progress?

by Claire Garner


I've completed 3 solid months of MAF only training, and I'm wondering what I need to tweak to get the most out of the next 6 months?

I run probably 6 days a week, with a max time up to 9h 45min. Usually I run around 8 hours a week, shorter runs mainly on road during the week, and then longer runs on trails at the weekend (although with the mud, these are mainly muddy hikes, so I'm not too concerned about my mile times on them).

If I'm being generous I can see some progress (I'm keeping an eye on my Strava segments, and some of these are definitely coming down) but it's definitely highly variable (i.e. some days I'll be up to a min/km slower than others). I'm keeping an eye also on my relative effort scores, and make sure that I'm not upping my effort, time or distance out of the zone.

Is this all in line with how MAF develops?!?!

I'm wondering if I need to:

a. Reduce my days running and do some yoga or gentle strength training on my non-running days
b. Keep going just as I am and have patience
c. Throw the towel in, or
d. Something else I haven't thought of yet?

Thanks in advance for wise words!


Nicole's reply
Hi Claire, thanks for you question.

The fact that you can see some progress is certainly a step in the right direction :). With MAF training some people improve faster than others and others take a while to see any improvement at all. I have also wondered if males improve faster than females. That is research I hope that someone does one day.

Whether you could increase more quickly is difficult to know as there are a lot of variables to consider. MAF improvement is not just dependent on running but it also is affected by sleep, diet, illness and stress. To work out how you could improve more I would ask yourself:

  • You are certainly running a lot of hours a week. Is this too much? Sometimes less is more. Your suggestion of yoga is certainly not a bad idea.
  • Are you getting enough rest and sleep? Aim for 8 hours sleep a night plus adequate rest days.
  • Do you think you eat a healthy(ish) diet? If not, look at ways of improving it and especially cutting out processed foods and sugars.
  • Do certain things trigger a higher heart rate? This could be coffee, stress, weather, lack of sleep.
  • How stressful is your daily life? Also are you putting too much pressure on yourself to improve? Constantly looking at your heart rate is stressful!
  • Is you heart rate monitor reliable? Ive tried a few and personally found that the chest strap is the most accurate.
MAF training can certainly be frustrating for some people (I was one of them!) and progress can be slow. Keep going for a couple more months and then re-evaluate your progress.

Are you doing MAF tests as that is a sure way of seeing if you are improving?.

I hope that helps and do let me know how you get on :).

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