The Maffetone Method – 4 Months In

Finished up month four of my Maffetone Method training experiment.  Let’s start with the artwork:

maffetone_avg_month4

running month 4

Overall, between December and January, I dropped another 19 seconds on my average pace. Obviously I’m thrilled with this, but I’m also cautiously optimistic about whether that will continue. January saw me run my very first race. I did well, setting an unofficial average pace of 9:22. I say unofficial because this is based on my own time, based on the GPS on MapMyRun. The potential for racing is one of the reasons I decided that, for data purposes, I’d throw out the highest and lowest pace. The reason I’m cautiously optimistic is because when I take the 9:22 pace out of the equation, my adjusted average pace remains at 11:41.

In January I managed one more run than I did in December, logging nine runs instead of eight. I would have logged a few more, but I live in the Northeast and if you’ve seen any news you know that we, along with the Midwest, have been freezing our butts off (thank you, polar vortex). We’ve also had quite a bit of snow (another 10-incher is forecasted for Wednesday). I have been running when I can, but sometimes you just get sick of running in the dark and the cold and when the alarm goes off at quarter to five in the morning, you think “bullshit”, flip the pillow to the cold side, and go back to sleep. But even though it was only one more run than December, I managed to log seven more miles than I had in December.

The primary reason for the increased mileage is that I’ve been making a point of running for five miles each run instead of either three or five. I stopped giving myself “three” as an option. I wasn’t able to get five miles in every single run, but I was able to get it for the majority of runs, which is why the average mile per run is 4.8 for January instead of 4.5 like it was for December. It’s a small difference, but I find it helps. Mileage is one of the biggest challenges for any runner using Maffetone as a training program. Phil Maffetone outlines what your heart rate should be and how to test your heart rate over time to see how the pace decreases as your heart rate remains constant. But he doesn’t provide a mileage program. He says it’s too individualized, runner by runner, to be able to provide a mileage program. This drives me bonkers. How am I supposed to know when I should up my mileage versus take it short and easy?

In the end, it’s been all about the “feel” of it. When I run five miles, it takes me under an hour. I usually clock in between 56 and 57 minutes. So let’s round up. In an hour I can go, Maffetone slow, five miles. This past weekend I finally got a good long run in, the first of the winter. I just sort of rambled around the roads of my town and ended up running miles in an hour and a half. I also had a really great Maffetone-slow pace, checking in at 11:23 per mile with an average heart rate of 142. Took me an hour and a half. So while I’m still focused on completing a certain number of miles, I’m boxing the miles in using time. It’s a bastardization of Maffetone’s schedule, but it’s working so far.

So that’s the summary of month four. Planning to get out on the road as often as I can, provided the weather cooperates. If I keep a regular schedule and Old Man Winter shoves off, I should be able to run three times a week. In a month, that’s twelve runs. That’s my goal for February.

See you in thirty (well, it’s February, so twenty-eight) days.

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