Tuesday, October 11, 2011
I came across the Maffetone method on the Runner's World Forum about 2 weeks ago. This is not a method about the form of running but about training intensity, biofeedback, nutrition, life style issues and injury prevention that affect endurance training.
Dr. Philip Maffetone's latest book "The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing" came out about a year ago and has gotten excellent reviews.
What caught my attention immediately is the strong focus on health above athletic performance. Given the very high percentage of endurance athletes who are injured and/or are affected by over training issues every year I thought this was something I needed to know more about.
Again, this is a holistic book that has much more to offer than just a style of training. The author talks at the beginning of the book about the difference between fitness and health. There are people who can exercise at very high levels of competition and still not be healthy.
Phil Maffetone has written two articles that are very eye-opening, one with the title "The Overtraining Syndrome", the other "Athletes: Fit but unhealthy".
Both articles are available for free on his website.
Spark People, of course, is all about helping people to get healthy, not just about helping them to lose weight or become successful athletes.
For anyone who is curious I highly recommend the book, it is very reasonably priced given the amount of information given.
My focus here will be primarily on the day to day exercise experiences I have with Phil Maffetone's method of training for endurance. I will also comment on things that I find of particular importance or interest as I continue reading through the book.
Using the Maffetone method requires a reliable heart rate monitor that can be manually set to a heart rate of 180-age. Based on Phil Maffetone's experience this is approximately the maximum aerobic heart rate that should be the maximum at which to train to improve aerobic endurance.
There is this article on his website that will explain the details:
On a regular basis I will do a Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) test to determine the improvement in my aerobic functioning.
Here is an article that explains the MAF test:
I will do my first MAF test in the next few days and will post the results here.
Monday, September 12, 2011
This run was something I had been looking forward to. I knew that the trails are beautiful since we had checked them out ahead of time. I also knew that it would be much harder than the first Half-Marathon that I ran this March which was all level and when the weather was cool.
This time there were very significant repeated elevation changes, temperatures at the end of the race around 90 degrees and what is considered a technically challenging trail, including very narrow trails, sandy gravel, river rock, tree roots, tight turns.
Several people said this run is harder than a Marathon on the flat and I suspect they are right. I did not have as much time to train for this run as I wanted to by a long shot. I only started running trails about 2 months ago and I also only started running hills about 2 months ago. The main goal was to finish the race without injury which I did. My muscles are slightly sore but everything works. Yeah!
What helped me a lot was reading the book by Danny Dreyer "Chi Running". My running style was already very similar to what he teaches in his book since I run in minimalist shoes (Merrell Pace Glove for this race) and the centering and relaxation techniques described in this book I also use when riding my horse. What was helpful in addition was the suggestion to run sideways on steep uphills to save my calf muscles as much as possible. Running in minimalist shoes, when transitioned to gradually, allows for better ground feel on trails and will strengthen all the muscles in the lower leg and in the feet. This leads to a greater level of natural balance and stability when running on very uneven ground. It will also lengthen the achilles tendon over time, because there is no heel cushion in the shoe to keep the heel from gently making contact with the ground (after the fore/midfoot) making it much easier to run up hills. Running up hills is accomplished more by leaning forward and letting the legs swing forward, not so much by pushing off with the calf muscles. All this allowed me to handle the uphill portions of the race without having trained on hills very much. I did have to slow to a walk because I ran out of breath on the steeper slopes, especially towards the end of the race when it got very hot. Improving my cardio will only happen with much more running over the coming year. The level and downhill portions of the run were pure bliss. Taking in the beautiful sights of trees and plants with the light shining through and the occasionally views of the surrounding Palouse countryside and taking in the smells and sounds of nature were worth it. The feeling of running on the trails was almost one of dancing. Some of the downhills I was probably running at around a 9 minute mile which felt almost like flying compared to the shuffle-jog on the uphills.
I'm definitely hooked on trail running, although most of my practice runs will be more in the 3-5 mile length. This particular run was a little on the hard side for my training level, especially since I hardly ran at all in the last 3 weeks before the race but it worked out very well because I did not give into the temptation to go too fast. During the last two miles I started feeling tired, mostly because of the heat. My Camelbak-type backpack worked well and I used most of my 70 oz. supply of water with Nuun tablets and could have skipped all three water stops except for pouring water over my head.
Now I'll take a look at where there are more trail runs in our area (Eastern WA, North Idaho).
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