Monthly Archives: August 2013

Maffetone Method Resources

It seems that in endurance training right now there are two competing training methodologies: low heart rate aerobic training as espoused by Dr. Maffetone, and high intensity interval training, perhaps best exemplified by Crossfit. They both appear to be effective, but  mutually exclusive, and that confuses people.
I am not going to debate, compare/contrast, pros and cons etc. I choose the Maffetone Method. For those who are curious and want to learn more, I am assembling here a guide to resources about this training method.
Basic Principles:

  • Aerobic Training Trumps Everything
  • Anaerobic training is risky
  • Aerobic/Anaerobic Threshold is determined by fat utilization
  • Aerobic fitness is best developed at a lower intensity than you might think
  • Aerobic fitness seems to have no ceiling

The Training Method:

  • Find your heart rate range using the 180 formula (Maximum Aerobic Function=MAF)
  • Always wear your heart rate monitor
  • Start with 10-15 minute warm-up to gradually bring up heart rate into training zone
  • NEVER go above MAF! If heart rate goes over, slow down
  • Walking is ideal for warming up/cooling down

Annotated Resources to Learn More:
The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing
This is the one book to get if endurance sports are your interest, whether or not you race. It is a compilation that was born in response to many athlete questions over the years. I personally disagree with the nutritional advice, as I prefer to follow the Whole Foods Plant Based diet as espoused by Dr. McDougall and Dr. Esselstyn. But the training information, much of the self-care, and the holistic approach is very thought provoking. Most of what I have applied has worked well.
The Big Book of Health and Fitness
This book is not much different than the other one, except in focus. There are more general health topics, and less about what affects competition. It has one important topic that is a regrettable omission from his other book which is an explanation of how to incorporate strength training with his aerobic training philosophy.
The Maffetone Method
Dr. Maffetone has said that his previous books are out of date, and that The Big Book(s)… represent his best advice. But this old one is short and gives a good, general explanation. I like it.
Both Dr. Maffetone and Mark Allen have great articles on their respective websites covering many related topics.
Here is Mark Allen explaining how to build a great aerobic base. This is the method he used during his “patience phase” to build the fitness needed to win Ironman Kona multiple times.
“Training Your Heart”
Here is the Man Himself Explaining:
“Want Speed? Slow Down!”
I first learned of The Maffetone Method in a magazine article by Mark Allen. It didn’t mention Maffettone by name, and the article did not make sense to me at the time. But when I heard the man explain it himself, it all came together. Here are some great podcast interviews where Dr. Maffetone explains the principles and responds to questions.
The First One I Heard:
The podcaster recently changed his nutrition and training for Ironman to be more in line with Maffetone.
Trail Runner Nation
Mark Allen credited Maffetone with much of his success, and Maffetone uses Mark Allen as the best example of what his brand of aerobic training can achieve.

The “Ask the Ultrarunner” and “Ask the Coaches” podcasts at are good resources as questions about Maffetone style training are often answered. They recently interviewed Maffetone twice/;

Part 1 

Part 2

While there are many effective ways to train, I think most people will gain more enjoyment from using this aerobic based approach and saving the anaerobic efforts for race day, or brief build periods. I know I have.