The Maffetone Method – 5 Months In

Okay, I realize the month’s not over yet, as it is still the last day of February. But I can give you my solemn word that I will not be going for a run between now and midnight tonight, so I think the data is safe to review.

So how did February go? I guess if sum it up by calling it a mixed bag.

Let’s start with the graphics:

running month 5


By the list of stats, you can see that I dropped another thirteen seconds off my pace time. Which is great. That’s the whole idea. Keep running slow and eventually the pace comes down to meet your heart rate without your heart rate having to rise to the occasion. Except my heart rate did rise a little bit, on average. More on that in a minute.

The runs themselves were really good through the first half of the month. I ran my first long run in a while, getting out for a good 8 miles on a Sunday morning. I realize 8 miles is not a long run to a lot of “serious” runners, but for me, it was. I hadn’t run a good long distance run since late last summer, and even when I was getting out more regularly, my longest run ever was 12 miles. Since my goal is to run a half marathon in June, I got start cranking up the mileage to make sure I’ll cross the finish line, rather than be carried over it.

So through the first two weeks of Feb, I was feeling good, running 5 to 6 miles without a care in the world. And then it snowed. And not just snowed, because that’s already happened plenty this winter. No, I mean Snowed with a capital S. In the third week in February we saw four snowstorms over an eight day period. I mean, honest to god, really? That threw a huge monkey in the wrench in terms of aerobic base training. One of Maffetone’s primary recommendations is to train slowly all winter long so that you can race in the spring and summer. Do your aerobic training in winter so your spring/summer racing can serve as your anaerobic training. ‘Cept how do you train during the winter when winter won’t let you?

This is where the treadmill at the local gym should have come in. Shoulda woulda coulda. I should have altered my morning routine to go run on the treadmill to keep the training going. But I hate treadmills. They bore me to tears. Guess I wasn’t all that committed after all.

On top of the Snow with a capital S, it’s been cold. Damn cold. Like, Cormac McCarthy’s The Road kinda cold.

So the last two weeks of February saw just two runs for a total of 8 miles. Pretty anemic. But winter was only half the problem I ran into. (Get it? “Ran” into? Never mind…)

My heart rate monitor has been acting fairly wonky lately. I work in IT and I can tell you that “wonky” is a very technical term. Basically, it would give me strange readings as I ran, usually only for a moment, and return to normal. For example, I looked down at it as I leveled out on one particular street during a morning run. I watched it go from 137 to 213 then back down to 137. Whiskey tango foxtrot. And the monitor doesn’t know enough to think “hmm, that’s strange, maybe that’s a blip we should throw out.” When the run is over and I check the average heart rate and max rate, sure enough, the max reads 213. That does me no good. I have to spend the rest of the run closely monitoring the readings and estimating from what I saw what I think the max heart rate was. God only knows what this is doing to the average. The primary concern I have with this is, how do I know any of the readings have ever been right? I’ve replaced the batteries, but it still happens here and there. I really want to get a new monitor, but the
Magellan Echo is still a little out of my price range.

Also on the subject of heart rate, I feel like I’ve lost my feel for pace. The last three runs I’ve run, my average heart rate has been 144. I can usually keep it to 141, 142. My pace for the first two of these runs saw my pace lower that the monthly average by 15 seconds. I thought maybe I was losing conditioning. The last of these three runs I watched my heart rate climb up into that 144 arena. “Here we go again,” I thought. So I (stupidly) cute my run short out of frustration. Three miles and done. I looked at the pace for that run and found I had run it 10 seconds under the average for February. I could have, and would have, sworn I was running a pace like the first two. So I feel I’ve lost my feeling for pace, which is a little bothersome. And to bring in my other issue, how much of this due to a strangely functioning heart rate monitor versus simply losing my feeling for pace. No earthly idea.

So that’s how month five went. I figure winter has to clear out of here at some point. There’s a 10k north of me that happens at the end of April that thinking about. It would be a nice way to get into a racing frame of mind for the June half marathon. But first, I should probably get through March.

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