My Background with the Maffetone Method
So I decided to change my training plan drastically this year. I have made the mistake in the past when my winter base training did not go according to plan, or was interrupted. The I would overdo it when spring arrived. With the beginning of nicer weather and longer days, I would increase bike mileage way too fast and end up burned out halfway through summer and miss too many nice long summer days of mountain biking. One year I even did it with running and ended up with plantar fasciitis. This year started to look that way again, with a long, very wet winter that limited outdoor training and a work schedule that did not allow me the opportunity to commute by bike. Usually, the weather and daylight allows me enough training time in winter where I just use my commute to build a base without even really thinking about it. Not so this year. Fortunately, I was reintroduced to the work of Dr. Phil Maffetone, and decided to give his method a try. I was first introduced to the method from reading a little about Mark Allen. But with apologies to the Grip, I didn’t get it. But luck was on my side, and I got to hear Maffetone interviewed on Ben Greenfield’s podcast. This is a bit ironic, since Ben’s coaching method is the opposite, relying instead on shorter high intensity workouts. But after hearing Maffetone himself explain his method and how it developed, I decided to give it a try. In essence, his philosophy is very similar to Arthur Lydiard, since he emphasizes building a huge aerobic base by avoiding all anaerobic training until very close to race season. For many athletes, he maintains that NO anaerobic training is best, and that racing itself is all the anaerobic stimulus they need. An elite example of this was Mike Pigg, who had his best pro season after following Maffetone’s method. That season he trained aerobically, and the only anaerobic workouts were races. That he typically won.
So I concluded that since I really had no base to speak of, and I already know what happens if you ignore base training, I really had nothing to lose. I mean, regular training can’t actually make me slower, right? Right! Well, the good news is that I have gotten a little faster, but most importantly, I enjoy every workout. This consistency trumps everything else, because no matter how state of the art your training plan might be, if you don’t actually complete the workouts, you won’t improve. I know this from painful experience. The only drawback is training so slow is you feel embarrassed. And walking up hills. That sucks, especially when you know you can run (or ride) up them.
What the Maffetone Method entails