Monday, September 30, 2013

Building the Base w/ Maffetone

I knew going into TMBT 2013 that I was undertrained. My weekly mileage was never very high, I almost never (maybe never) ran more than three times in a week, and my longest long run (which I did 3 times) was 24km. Having read the standard ultrarunning books and blogs, I know that having a solid running base is essential to doing well in ultras.

While I was already considering how to build my endurance base in preparation for SAC 2014 and possibly TMBT 2014, I started to more seriously consider the Maffetone Method. For those unfamiliar with this, the premise is that you conduct the great majority of your training at a lower intensity, keeping your heart rate below a certain level (determined through a simple formula plus a modification or two based on your lifestyle and fitness). By training at or below this set level, your body remains in an aerobic state. And by developing your aerobic capacity, the theory is that over time, you will be able to go faster and faster at that same heart rate.

So after running the numbers, it looks like my maximum heart rate, which I should not exceed, is 131 beats per minute. Yikes, that's low. I think when I go on a simple jog, my pulse gets near 150 bpm. So at least in the beginning, I will probably be walking. But I am looking forward to trying this new approach to see what happens!

My baseline test, which I will conduct monthly, will consist of the following:
  • 5km at a nearby track. Flat and easy, 5 laps.
  • 2.83mi on the trails near my place. It's a set course I often run, and has 636 feet of ascent (and descent).
I'll measure the time it takes me to do those two routes (not on the same day) at 131 bpm, and record my progress.


  1. This is fascinating to me. I heard a podcast about his method and definitely want to give it a try.

  2. Hey Cory thanks for chiming in. Maybe I could link to the two podcasts (interviews with Phil Maffetone) that I have listened to, for future reference: