The Maffetone Method: A Hiatus

After a few rocky months of being unmotivated and discouraged by my running results, I’ve decided that I need to take a bit of a break from trying to apply the Maffetone Method to my running. It’s not that I’ve stopped running–oh, wait, yeah it is.

My running has fallen by the wayside the last few months. If I get out there more than once every two weeks, that’s a lot. I’m finding that, these days, I haven’t the enough time to keep it going.  I’m trying to get a major release done for the system I administer at work. I’m trying to get editing done on a hard-boiled crime novel I’ve written. I’m trying to clean up the house and clean out my garage. (I’m also hopeless hooked on Battlestar Galactica, which I missed when it originally aired on SyFy.)

Time, or the lack thereof, is only a part of it. Another factor is that my foot hurts again. I imagine that it’s time to replace my shoes, which did a nice job mitigating the problems I was having with my plantar at the time. At this point, the pain has returned. It’s not as sharp or acute as it was in December, but it’s there, especially in the morning. I’m worried I may have done something serious to it since it’s sore in the morning after doing nothing but walking at lunch time.

But what might be the most difficult thing to overcome at this point is the lack of motivation. I’m just not interested enough in running anymore to push myself to do it. It used to be something I enjoyed, but I’ve found that I just haven’t enjoyed it in recent months. I suppose this is the biggest reason why I’m not running these days. If I truly enjoyed it, I’d make time for it. I don’t, so I don’t. But the big question is why.

Why don’t I enjoy running anymore? Interestingly enough, Maffetone might be the answer. Or perhaps, better stated, my implementation of Maffetone might be the answer.

When I set out on a quest to document my progress with the Maffetone Method, it was to avoid some of the pain I was starting to feel, and to see if I could bring my times down. You can read the full account of why I started here. In the months that followed, I tried to apply the concept of running slowly in order to improve my times. Running slow is incredibly hard to do. You’d think you could just lope along and not worry about the speed. But when you’ve been running for a while and you’ve been trying to run faster and faster each time, running slowly is an unbelievably hard adjustment to make. No, really. It unbelievable. Until you try it, you’ll never believe that running slow can take so much effort.

In making this adjustment, I did see some results. But I never really applied the method properly. I always found that most of my runs ended up being faster than they should have been, in that my heart rate was higher than it should have been. I was running based on average heart rate, but the average was always brought down by my heart rate in the first mile. That first mile was always great, and my heart rate for the subsequent miles was up there. It averaged out to a state of “okay”, but the averages were still above the MAF line.

Another big thing I’ve been managing poorly is my diet. I have a sweet tooth. Like, huge. It’s not below me to take two year old frozen Girl Scout cookies from the freezer and finish the box in one sitting, freezer burn and all. Guess what doesn’t work well when your eating like crap. Ding ding ding! The Maffetone Method. (Actually, to be honest, any method will work like shit if you eat like I have.)

I think the final thing, though, the final reason I’m putting this one on the shelf is because I don’t race. I’ve run two races, and while I enjoyed them, I’m not the kind of guy who wants to get out there and race every weekend. When I realized this, and put it together with my waning interest in running, I realized that there is no reason for me to apply the Maffetone Method. I’m not trying to improve my race times cause I don’t race. And I haven’t been enjoying running because I don’t want to run slow all the time. Sometimes I want to just run, not run and have to constantly check my heart rate monitor. I feel like I’ve been held hostage by my heart rate monitor, and I haven’t enjoyed it.

So, with all of this in mind, I feel like it’s a good time to pause this experiment. Not shut it down and say “never again”. Because who knows? Maybe in a few years I’ll be ready to get back into it. But for now, I’ve lost interest in running. It’s time to move on and find something else that I actually do enjoy in order to get into shape.

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