The Value of Informal MAF Tests
I’m lagging behind. I seriously need to do another MAF test on the track. Like any test in school, they make me a little nervous even though there is no real failure. But the real reason is that I have been informally testing myself once a week and seeing progress, so I’m a little unmotivated to go to the track and hassle with timing individual miles. I always thought while reading Maffetone that if you only do a MAF test once a month, and that is the main way to see if your training or health is off track, that it wasn’t often enough to catch a problem in time. But Maffetone explains that if you use the same route regularly, you can see if you’re progressing or regressing by keeping track of some combination of speed/pace, distance, time and heart rate.
So I turned my most common running route into a fitness test. I start and stop my heart monitor in exactly the same place. I cover my warm-up and cool-down exactly the same way. I use the same route and heart rate range. While a difference of just a few seconds might not mean much, it will show a trend. My informal running MAF test shows almost three minutes of improvement in the last month or so, from 52 min to 49 min.
My cycling routes haven’t shown the same improvement. I suspect that the differing conditions of traffic, stop lights, and wind make day to day comparisons less useful. But a recent mountain bike ride shows me that I have made significant progress there too.
So I will keep one run a week reserved for my informal MAF test, take another run and stretch it out to an hour, and keep pushing my long run a little longer.