Maffetone Training

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shug
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Maffetone Training

Post by shug » Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:17 pm

I recently purchased Dr. Phil Maffetone's new book called 1:59.

I like Maffetone in that he is not afraid to challenge commonly held beliefs and he is a forward thinker (much like Tinman in that regard).

Maffetone has coached many great athletes, but I find the specifics of his marathon training philosophy to be very different than anything I've come across before or tried.

Once a runner is aerobically fit, the majority of training is performed at paces between MP and moderate effort while using a HR monitor. Another interesting feature is that he rarely advises athletes to run faster than this pace (he calls this anaerobic or speed training).

For more information, he has his own website and has done several interesting interviews that are posted on enduranceplanet.com.

I am curious what your thoughts are.
Last edited by shug on Fri Sep 05, 2014 8:19 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by Tinman » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:04 pm

While I like Dr. Maffetone's contributions, I disagree with what I've read about his idea of anaerobic training. I can only say that nobody has ever set a world record training as he has suggested in the past. Nobody at that level would only run aerobically, as he calls it. Nobody!  If I sat down with Dr. Maffetone, which I would enjoy by the way, I would ask him clarification questions. And, I think, given his obvious intelligence and capacity to consider ideas from a breadth of topics, he might agree with a few concepts that I offer/present, provided that I use physiology, logic, and historical evidence as support.
Last edited by Tinman on Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:09 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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monica
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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by monica » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:45 pm

Here's my opinion, based on my own experience and analysis etc.

A very big weakness of his training philosophy is the idea of using that 180 formula. It's a rather useless generic statistical formula, just like trying to guess your maxHR from the so-called 220-age formula. There's got to be a certain standard deviation and he never shared that data anywhere but I'm going to guess it's similar to the 220-age formula in this respect. He is unable to provide a clear and convincing explanation as to why this would work for people with the same age yet with different maxHR's and anaerobic thresholds (the pace/HR you can maintain for ~1 hour). The only argument I've ever seen him provide was this rather vague idea that LT and MAF don't correlate 100%. Sure, HR profile is individual but from that idea that MAF and LT don't totally perfectly correlate, it does not follow that this formula would work. He admits himself that he does not use that formula with his own patients.

And obviously another problem is this idea that he suggests a pretty one-sided way of training. Though the full story is that anaerobic phases are optionally included for competitive athletes, where anaerobic means any work that exceeds the MAF HR: he suggests you shouldn't exceed 90% of maxHR. He claims you can get all the improvement without exceeding 90%. This is not true in my case. So it's still pretty one-sided even if you include work up to 90% of MHR. Though of course you are allowed to run races too so that could get the job sorted for the ranges over MHR 90% but I'm a bit skeptical of that idea.

Also, I don't believe there's just one magic aerobic HR number that minimizes stress and maximizes improvement as he suggests. Especially not in the OCD-ish way of never allowing yourself to go past it, not even when you're not doing a running workout (say you are just going up stairs "too fast" or something). I find it's much more relative than that, you need to take training volume into account and of course overall structure of your training. No magic HR number in this sense but I did find there is a HR range at least for me that is very effective at low-ish mileage for improvements. But at least in my case this means it's so stimulating that I can't do that much volume of it. Not that that - the low-ish mileage - must be a problem but I don't see it as a good idea long term. There is another -lower- HR range that's effective at a very decent higher mileage - running all your mileage at that range - and that also had great effects but those effects seemed to be only valid for lower HR ranges. I screwed up when I tried to transition to faster paces. I was very unexperienced and I did not understand what I had to do to transition properly. Maybe I'll retry one day, I haven't made the final conclusion on this way of training.

Oh and of course the stupid 180-age formula didn't work for me. Nope it was giving me a HR number that was too low. You are saying the MAF pace is between moderate effort and MP. Well yes, and the formula put me into the recovery HR range. Yeah, fun... That very effective aerobic HR range I mentioned above is a moderate pace, somewhat slower than MP, so that's probably what my MAF would be according to the theory. It's ~15-20 beats higher than the number given by 180-age formula. (Yes I'm pretty much an outlier with my HR profile but still... this is embarrassing for the formula lol)

I hope this helped somewhat
Last edited by monica on Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:55 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by monica » Fri Sep 05, 2014 9:50 pm

As for 1:59 lol I would ask Radcliffe how she trained for her marathon WRs :)

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by Gabe1 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 2:57 am

Maffetone really believes that someone will run 1:59 in a marathon very soon. I think that says pretty much about him. That's equal to around 25:20 10k. And today there isn't anyone who run under 26:30.

Also, as Monica points out, the 180-rule is completely bogus. I have very high heart rate. It's totally useless for me. It's like constructing a running shoe, but only making and selling it in one size - it will fit a few persons, but for most of us it's worthless.

In another running forum I visit, there was this guy that started training after the Maffetone principles and he had great improvement (and also wrote a lot about his progress). So many other runners on that forum started to train this way too. But oddly enough, almost no other runner had any improvement at all, and most of them quit after some months because nothing happened. So I think it's like always - we are all different and we need personalized training. It's the same as some people who can run super hero workouts and improve a lot over time on that, but it definitely doesnt work for most of us.

For the guy who improved so much on the Maffetone method, I think he had a great running talent and he could have become really good. But he never manage to run a good marathon, he tried several times but he always ran out of energy after 30 k. I don't know if that had to do with the training, or just his psysiology.

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by shug » Sat Sep 06, 2014 7:44 am

I am also quite leery of training exclusively in this fashion. However, there are a few tenants of his philosophy that I really think every runner can benefit from.

Here are just a few
1)  take a holistic approach towards training - the best training schedule in the world won't offset poor nutrition, bad sleep patterns, and/or high stress from other sources 
2)  primary focus should be aerobic development - he is a proponent of short sprint work even during "base building"
3)  he advises to overreach and not overtrain.... excerpt from his book.... "running the highest level of training, in volume and/or intensity, that one can reach and still be able to progress and properly recover" (sounds like Tinman's "keep the ball rolling" concept)  -  this seems obvious, but virtually every runner can fall prey to overtraining

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by monica » Sat Sep 06, 2014 2:00 pm

Gabe1 wrote:Maffetone really believes that someone will run 1:59 in a marathon very soon. I think that says pretty much about him. That's equal to around 25:20 10k. And today there isn't anyone who run under 26:30.
Yeah well Maffetone's got some very unorthodox ideas in several topics...

In another running forum I visit, there was this guy that started training after the Maffetone principles and he had great improvement (and also wrote a lot about his progress). So many other runners on that forum started to train this way too. But oddly enough, almost no other runner had any improvement at all, and most of them quit after some months because nothing happened. So I think it's like always - we are all different and we need personalized training. It's the same as some people who can run super hero workouts and improve a lot over time on that, but it definitely doesnt work for most of us.
I've talked to several people who tried that maffetone formula, for most of them it was far from optimal... at best. The ones that improved used traditional faster workouts too in racing season.

For the guy who improved so much on the Maffetone method, I think he had a great running talent and he could have become really good. But he never manage to run a good marathon, he tried several times but he always ran out of energy after 30 k. I don't know if that had to do with the training, or just his psysiology.
What marathon time and shorter race times did he have? If he always trained at this moderate pace - slightly slower than marathon pace - and never at any lower HRs then my guess is going to be that it's because he never ran at lower HRs and/or didn't have enough mileage etc

Did he pace the marathon races right, though?

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by monica » Sat Sep 06, 2014 2:02 pm

[quote="shug"]
I am also quite leery of training exclusively in this fashion. However, there are a few tenants of his philosophy that I really think every runner can benefit from.

Here are just a few
1)  take a holistic approach towards training - the best training schedule in the world won't offset poor nutrition, bad sleep patterns, and/or high stress from other sources 
2)  primary focus should be aerobic development - he is a proponent of short sprint work even during "base building"
3)  he advises to overreach and not overtrain.... excerpt from his book.... "running the highest level of training, in volume and/or intensity, that one can reach and still be able to progress and properly recover" (sounds like Tinman's "keep the ball rolling" concept)  -  this seems obvious, but virtually every runner can fall prey to overtraining
[/quote]

1) is a rather trivial idea
2) what do we call aerobic?
3) trivial idea again - well ok not necessarily trivial to experience and feel it for yourself.. I'm just trying to say that many running coaches say the same thing
Last edited by monica on Sat Sep 06, 2014 2:04 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by Gabe1 » Sat Sep 06, 2014 5:10 pm

For the guy who improved so much on the Maffetone method, I think he had a great running talent and he could have become really good. But he never manage to run a good marathon, he tried several times but he always ran out of energy after 30 k. I don't know if that had to do with the training, or just his psysiology.
What marathon time and shorter race times did he have? If he always trained at this moderate pace - slightly slower than marathon pace - and never at any lower HRs then my guess is going to be that it's because he never ran at lower HRs and/or didn't have enough mileage etc

Did he pace the marathon races right, though?
[/quote]

His training calendar is still open online, so I can look. He started at around 1:35 half marathon and then ran 1:17 after a couple of years, and 10 k was around 35:30 at best. But his best marathon result was just under 3 hours. He wrote himself that maybe it was because he was inefficient at using fuel at marathon pace (because he ALWAYS trained slower, MAF-pace) that he always bonked in marathons. He ran enough miles for sure, usually around 100-120 km/week. But I think he could have been a really good runner if he had continued, and had gotten the right coaching. But he got injured several times and then eventually stopped running totally.

Maybe, as you say, the fact that he almost always ran @ MAF-HR could be a factor in his bonking.

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by dkggpeters » Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:38 pm

[quote="Gabe1"]
In another running forum I visit, there was this guy that started training after the Maffetone principles and he had great improvement (and also wrote a lot about his progress). So many other runners on that forum started to train this way too. But oddly enough, almost no other runner had any improvement at all, and most of them quit after some months because nothing happened. So I think it's like always - we are all different and we need personalized training. It's the same as some people who can run super hero workouts and improve a lot over time on that, but it definitely doesnt work for most of us.
[/quote]

I know one person that got great improvements using Maffetone although he doesn't train that way anymore.  I had another that tried it for months and I asked him how it was going and he was deflated and felt he regressed.

It is funny that you mention others followed.  On one forum there was a guy whom did all his running really slow but over the last 6 to 8 weeks he would race a lot to get better fitness.  A bunch of other folks jumped on board that you only needed a lot of really slow miles and quality didn't matter that much.  One guy was getting all cocky saying he would run a 57 minute 10 mile and I said he would do no better than 1:04 which is what he ran.  They acted all surprised why this happened so I made the comment that the guy whom had success had a lot of natural speed (he can run a sub 2:00 800 and just recently ran a 4:26 mile at 40) so by just increasing his endurance then that coupled with his natural speed would result in a decent marathon time.  He ran 2:36 by the way.  I also commented that he did a lot of racing late in the cycle which is very hard to do week after week for most people.  I also stated that 70 MPW with consistent quality is better than 100 MPW with no quality.  Boy did I get a lot of flack for that comment.  But, fall marathon season is upon us and I am sure there will be a lot of disappointing results.

I am a firm believer that a balanced program is what will provide the biggest payoffs over time.  I have stayed true to this philosophy and have seen great results.  I know for a fact if I jumped on the what's the workout of the week mentality, then I would be a lot slower then now.  And I mean a lot slower.  I know because I used to train that way.

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by dkggpeters » Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:46 pm

[quote="Gabe1"]
He wrote himself that maybe it was because he was inefficient at using fuel at marathon pace (because he ALWAYS trained slower, MAF-pace) that he always bonked in marathons.
[/quote]

And I was under the impression that the Maffetone method would result in better fuel efficiency as per what the program states.

I doubt a 1:59 will happen in my lifetime.  We would have to see large improvements in the 5K, 10K etc which we are not seeing.
Last edited by dkggpeters on Sat Sep 06, 2014 6:51 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by shug » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:21 am

[quote="monica"]
As for 1:59 lol I would ask Radcliffe how she trained for her marathon WRs :)
[/quote]

To play devils advocate, take a look at how Geoffrey Mutai trained. If what has been reported is true, he doesn't do any training faster than his marathon pace. Plus, he claimed to take one day off per week.

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by Gabe1 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:53 pm

Dkggpeters, yes isn't that typical of our "internet-age"? Information and trends travels so fast. Somebody has success with something and suddenly everybody is doing the same thing, and next month there's somebody doing exactly the opposite with great results and now everybody wants to try that. I, as you, trained exactly like that too, which caused me to overtrain really badly.. But what are you supposed to do when you don't have the knowledge and confidence to stick with a philosophy that really works for you? You live, you learn..

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by Gabe1 » Sun Sep 07, 2014 12:59 pm

[quote="shug"]
[quote="monica"]
As for 1:59 lol I would ask Radcliffe how she trained for her marathon WRs :)
[/quote]

To play devils advocate, take a look at how Geoffrey Mutai trained. If what has been reported is true, he doesn't do any training faster than his marathon pace. Plus, he claimed to take one day off per week.
[/quote]

I think we don't really know how Mutai, Kimetto, Kipsang and the other Volare guys trains. Keep in mind also that they train in very hilly terrain in high altitude. I know for a fact that Kipsang runs really fast short intervals, because Ryan Hall filmed him here: http://youtu.be/1bLdOjF4rpw

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Re: Maffetone Training

Post by monica » Sun Sep 07, 2014 11:59 pm

[quote="shug"]
[quote="monica"]
As for 1:59 lol I would ask Radcliffe how she trained for her marathon WRs :)
[/quote]

To play devils advocate, take a look at how Geoffrey Mutai trained. If what has been reported is true, he doesn't do any training faster than his marathon pace. Plus, he claimed to take one day off per week.
[/quote]

well if that works for him, great

will not work for everyone

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