Trusting the Process | Maffetone Method Triathlon

Committing to a new MAF heart-rate has brought clarity to a difficult start to the season 

Committing to a new MAF heart-rate has brought clarity to a difficult start to the season 

Now in my third season on the Maffetone Method, and after reaching new performance heights last season I was excited and expectant going into this season.  After two injury-free seasons doing 80%+ of my training at 155bpm, I qualified for upgrading my max aerobic function (MAF) heart rate from 155 to 158, and potentially even 163 (view www.philmaffetone.com/180-formula).  However, starting training again in November and pushing into December my progress was stuttering. I expected to be a little slower as I eased back into training, but was hopeful I would get back to running low 7min/mile or high 6min/mile at MAF soon enough, especially training at a slightly higher heart rate than previous seasons. 

Day 4 of the Guinness World Record trip

Day 4 of the Guinness World Record trip

I’m not sure whether I hadn’t given enough rest after my world record trip (just 10 days), or whether the new MAF heart rate was simply too high, or whether I had just been unfortunate, but my running was around 8.10/8.20/mi and I was struggling to keep below 158bpm.  Coming into the new year, I picked up the worst illness I’ve had for several years, and was out of training for a week with the flu. This had been my second cold / flu within a month, and although the first cold had only forced me to sit out for a couple of days, this one was more major.  This second cold, and the relative inconsistency over the first two months of my third season’s base training period, I had to revisit the MAF 180-formula.  It informed me I was now to train at 153bpm.  

153bpm really hit me psychologically. I was now 2 months late in my base training period, hadn’t made much progress in my pace, and now had to train at an even lower intensity.   With my first race in just 8 weeks from the time I got the new MAF heart-rate, I was genuinely quite anxious of simply not having enough time to re-build my aerobic base to get in PB shape for the half-marathon.

However, I trusted in the training philosophy.  I knew that the reason I’d seen huge performance gains over the previous two seasons, and the reason I was capable of running the times that I am was due to faith and commitment to the Maffetone Method process. I committed to 153bpm and the slow pace, and got on with training.

Slowly building the swim distance and using the Garmin HRM-Swim

Slowly building the swim distance and using the Garmin HRM-Swim

Now, three weeks later, and just 5 weeks before the race, I’m ecstatic to report progress.  At first 153bpm did feel better, but I was still running nearer 8.20min/mile, almost 1min/mi slower than I was at this time last year.  But, like I have seen over the past couple of years, it can be after a slight recovery period (i.e. relatively easy Sunday morning ride, and afternoon off) that your body can absorb the training and adapt accordingly.  My Monday evening hour run was at an average of 7.44min/mi, and Tuesday at 7.42min/mile, both over an hour’s run.  Both runs included miles under 7min30 – much closer to where I was this time last year.  For reference, runs the week before had been 8.08/mi, 8.18/mi and 8.13/mi.

I’d stayed consistent with the diet, stayed consistent in training, progressively building the miles, and the results are now starting to show. After 3 months of training, I’m incredibly relieved. There's plenty of work still to be done to be in PB shape for the half-marathon on March 13th, but I've been encouraged to #TRUSTTHEPROCESS