Nearing the End of my MAF Only Block; Thoughts and Prelim Results


Yes, this is how I log my runs.

In my past few posts, LCHF MAF and 2016 Goals, I talk about taking time off and starting to rebuild.  It seems people take two approaches to starting their next race season.  The first, by building speed at shorter distances.  Many ultra runners will begin their year with an early spring marathon and build distance into their speed for their summer ultras.  The second is a slower, higher mileage approach.  I took the latter, having sort of done the former in the past with shorter winter/spring races like the Mt. Mitchell 40 mile race and Uwharrie 40 both in very early spring, but usually burning out by late fall.

My A race this year isn’t until September, so I’ve been slow and steady all winter.  I have owned a heart race monitor for years, but this is the first time I have really ever used it.

So by the end of today, I will have hit somewhere around 140 miles this week.  The last time I did this was summer of 2013, and I ran two weeks of 150.  Because the weather and temperature was very different from then to now I can’t make an exact comparison (Av temp this winter has been in the upper 30s-40s, the summer is usually 70s in the morning and 90s in the afternoon.)

I don’t have exact strava data for 2013 because it was before I used that application, so I have to look back on my trusty hand written guide.  I ran all of my runs by feel, which back then was probably too fast at the start and hitting the wall and having to run the second run slow slow slow…

The week went something like this;

  • Day 1; 30, AM 21 road, PM 8.9 trail
  • Day 2; 23, AM 15, PM 8 road
  • Day 3: 26, AM 4(tired) PM 22
  • Day 4: 15 road
  • Day 5: 5
  • Day 6: 36, AM 30 all single track trail, PM 6 road slog
  • Day 7: 15, AM to road, PM 5

I remember just being tired and hungry and brain foggy and stressed that whole week, and afterwards.  It was supposed to be my peak week for a 100 3 weeks away and I would taper after it… the 100 was cancelled, which was a blessing in disguise because I was TOAST.  Mentally, physically, emotionally.  I signed up for a race a month later, recovered all the next month and had a great race..sub 23 hours at Pinhoti 100.  Had I run Grindstone the three weeks after that 150 mile week no doubt I would have done horribly.  Post Pinhoti my body was still fried though.  I had hives, I couldn’t sleep through the night, I was cranky, and tearful, and wasn’t my usual social self.

This week looks something like strava data (I started the week on Saturday).

  • Day 1; 20 miles trail, faster the last 10 miles
  • Day 2; 30 miles road
  • Day 3; 10 miles of a recovery run (this run I use my HRM specifically and run each mile according to HR.  ie first mile HR is near 100, second mile 110, third 130, etc until a few at 150, and then back down. Seems to loosen my legs up after a long road run.
  • Day 4; 30, AM 20 trail, PM 9 Treadmill, 1 barefoot around indoor track + leg day
  • Day 5; 10 easy miles 1:40hour
  • Day 6; 30,  All in a row with no break=20 road miles, 5 treadmill miles, 4+ easy with the dog
  • Day 7; that’s today… I have 10 planned trail miles after I finish cleaning the house and writing this.

The big difference is how I feel physically and mentally. I’m not starving constantly, I don’t wake up hungry and can’t get back to sleep.  I am present, no brain fog, at night I can go out to dinner with friends and hold a conversation.  I am not sore and stiff and always on the cusp of worrying if that niggle is an oncoming injury, and I am in great spirits.  I ran all of the miles under my MAF HR which is just under 150, which means that I’m certainly not at my fastest, but not far off and feel better. I think on Day 4 the first 20 I ran I hit 18 miles on the trail at 3 hours, and in the past I have hit 20 in 3 hours on the same route, but the different is I felt good enough to do 10 more in the afternoon and lift legs, whereas after the 20 miles in 3 hours before I would have to sit on the couch or nap after.

In general I would say its hard to compare my actual pace because looking back over the data this winter there was a lot of muddy days, snowy and icy days that skewed the pace results, so I have been looking at mileage and how I feel and can function rather than the actual pace. Back in December a 17 mile trail run used to feel like a hard effort, while now its a normal Tuesday morning.

I realize for those of you that are seeking actual data and numbers this is loose and not really conclusive enough, but for me its a really great improvement.  I have been striving to get the big mileage with out the drawback of feeling wasted every day afterwards.  I am hopeful that this base will serve me well as I add in some quality workouts in the upcoming weeks/months.

Next week is the beginning of some actual speed work, so no more MAF only running.  One day a week I will drop off the 30 mile and switch it out for a hilly run aiming for a pace and feel, and ignoring my HR.  The rest of the week will remain mostly HR based.

I’m both excited and apprehensive to be switching up my running.  I am one of those people who tend to fall prey to “hard is good, harder is better,” and tend to dig myself into over training holes.  This is the year of training smarter not harder.  I’ll be curious to see if I can stick to that.

Thanks for reading!!

*also, with all this mileage I have been able to add muscle (finally, typically I get all gawky and lose muscle at higher mileage) and have lost just 1-2 lbs of fat.



6 responses to “Nearing the End of my MAF Only Block; Thoughts and Prelim Results

  1. Really interesting comparisons! I appreciate you making your progress available to others in specific terms. A great gift to people seeking alternative routes to optimal fitness

  2. nice post.
    I am training for a marathon with a ketogenic diet and maf method.

  3. Couple of annoying calf strains. But camping this weekend, then back training next week. 👍🏻

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