M.A.F. Test #3
Conditions: Cool, breezy, threatening rain
Mile #1: 10:50
Mile #2: 10:56
Mile #3: 11:25
M.A.F. Average pace: 11:03 per mile
Average Heart Rate: 139 BPM
Alright, this MAF test is a real conundrum. My average only improved by a meager six seconds per mile over a month of training! Even more puzzling is that my first mile took me 10:50, fully fifteen seconds slower than last month? WTF? The improvement came from a much steadier pace for miles 2 and 3, with my final mile twenty seconds faster. WTF? redux I was actually concerned while I ran that my result might actually worsen this month, but it didn’t happen. I avoid looking at the time while I run, until it’s time to record the split times. But I worried anyway. I resolved that if I did worsen, I would retest in a week to if this was a fluke, or a warning sign. Maffetone emphasizes the value of regular MAF tests to keep training and lifestyle on track. One thing that stands out a little is the relatively slow pace of mile one. This could mean that I wasn’t adequately warmed up. So, since I improved only a little, I will retest in two weeks instead of four, include a longer warmup, and see what happens. Another strange thing was that the differences between each mile time were much smaller than previous tests, which could indicate a plateau.
What could explain all this?
1. The August test came at the end of summer, and school had barely started. I had spent a lot of time in Tahoe over the summer and I believe I picked an aerobic benefit from the altitude. My times on some familiar training routes improved significantly. That doesn’t seem to be the case any more. As my red blood cell count, hematocrit, and EPO levels normalize to sea level, it’s possible that I was slowing down my rate of progress.
2. School means a dramatic change in lifestyle. No longer do I have the luxury of living like a pro athlete. The increased lifestyle stress can interfere with aerobic development. Even being a little sloppy in nutrition that might not matter in the summer matters now. And other personal stresses that seemed handled from the comfort of a summer hammock took longer than expected to resolve.
3. Heat stress, while not a factor in either test, was an issue over the last month, causing me to miss a few workouts. Plus the heat really makes me cranky.
In any case I had planned to change my training after September. This marks six months of Maffetone style training, so for the next three months I will train a little differently.
Continue all running and cycling workouts at MAF intensity.
Increase running volume three ways:
1. Longer long runs. Building from 90 min. to three hours to prepare for the December marathon.
2. A medium long run midweek, 60-75 min.
3. Short transition runs off the bike
Decrease bike volume by shortening commutes and shortening long rides to 90-120 min.
Add in some strength training. This will be the only anaerobic efforts I’ll do.
Tighten up the loose ends in diet and work on stress reduction to improve sleep quality. My HRV levels have also plateaued, so I may need more rest.
I will retest in two weeks, to see where the trend really is going, and if further lifestyle modifications are needed.