MAF Out Loud

It has been two months since I contributed anything significant to this blog. The last time I posted, I shared my experiences from the Sedona Marathon. (Do we have to go there?)

For the first month after Sedona, my running joy was shattered. In the last several miles of the marathon, I swore to never run a full marathon again. The amount of time spent away from my family in training seemed ridiculous in the wake of the horrific performance in Arizona. I felt emotionally and psychologically defeated.

I thought, maybe someday I’ll run the Green Bay Marathon and that will be my last. The end of my marathon career seemed in sight.

That lasted less than 100 hours.

Only days after quitting the marathon, my brother, Thom, asked about running the Chicago Marathon in October. He said something like, we could run next to each other and confuse people. I’ve always wanted to star in my own personal double-mint gum commercial, so why not. Suddenly I was back on (or is it off?) the marathon wagon.

After a couple of weeks of resting, I filled out my training plan for Chicago and sent it to Thom. Thom shared the plan with his wife, Katie, who is a trainer, ironman, and all around phenomenal athlete. She took one look at my plan and said, I see why you get injured so often. Apparently I have been running myself into the ground with my running-only approach. Why should I do cross-training or core work if I just want to run?

Katie offered to show me another way (see her blog at With all of the injuries I have had over the last couple years, if she told me that drinking beet juice by the gallon would keep me going, I would have done it (don’t get any ideas, coach!). So I found myself in the world of MAF training.

I had no idea what MAF training meant, but I was willing to try anything to have an experience better than Sedona. MAF training is heart rate training. For me, that meant  running and cycling while keeping my heart rate below 140 BPM (along with doing a ridiculous amount of crunches. More crunches in one day than I have done in the last decade combined!)

On March 2nd I ran my first MAF test: a slow two mile warmup followed by a four mile MAF run (keeping the heart rate under 140) on the track. To say the least, I was incredibly humbled. I just finished a marathon a month prior and all of the training that went with that. How hard could it be to keep my heart rate under 140?

Pretty darn hard.

I ended up walking as much as I jogged (I wouldn’t call anything I did running). Blades of grass grew around the track  faster than I moved. My average pace was more than a 14 minute mile.

While it was hard enough to keep my heart rate under 140, I would have to do the same for the next month while cycling uphill or running against the wind. I had a feeling that the kids in the neighborhood were laughing at me and coming up with new nicknames for the old, slow man.

Today I went back out for my second MAF test. While I was still the slowest person on the track and looked with envy at people doing sprints, I was at least able to maintain the semblance of a running motion the entire time. This time, my pace was just shy of 13 minutes. More than a minute per mile improvement in one month! Ok, now I am starting to get it, Katie.

  Mar 2 Apr 6
Mile 1 13:28 12:32
Mile 2 13:55 12:53
Mile 3 14:18 13:05
Mile 4 14:43 13:33
Total 56:25 51:23
Average 14:06 12:51

 As I ran today, I began to envision Chicago. Not with the dread of the final miles of Sedona, but with excitement. I can’t wait to run with Thom and Sandy (check out Sandy’s inspirational blog at and smile across the finish line, equipped by Coach Katie’s expertise.

No one is calling me to replace Ryan Hall or Meb in Boston, but I can see progress .

My running joy is back!


One thought on “MAF Out Loud

  1. Hanneke

    Interesting. I will try to follow your endeavors. I am curious if it works, I am reading about MAF but can’t get myself to run that slow.


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