Hi Guys,

I've currently been making major changes to my training, namely I'm training aerobically.  Using the the Phil Maffetone principle of 180 minus your age minus 5 to find my max aerobic heart rate.

The trouble I have is that my heart rate is really jumpy.  I've ran all my life, recently I massively changed my diet, I did the two week test and have done 3 monthly maf tests.  I've lost half a stone, but my maf tests are getting worse not better, physically I'm fine, blood pressure etc all good.  

I just can't keep my heart within the boundary and need to walk most of the time when I run, however, I can walk a fair speed with my heart rate some 35 beats slower.  Going into a steady jog boom! my heart rate climbs rapidly to my max.

I just can't seem to control my heart rate, it's actually making me pretty anxious when I run as any incline sets my heart off... 

I'm much healthier than I've ever been. Anyone have any thoughts? or experience similar problems when base training?


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I've also found it difficult to stay in HR zones while open road or trail running.  I've had success maintaining HR running on flat track.  I've had the most success consistently maintaining HR zones on a spin bike.  In years past that's the most effective way I've found to build my aerobic base.

If I used that formula my max aerobic HR would be around 135. That's waaaay lower than my coach's calculations. I would barely be above a fast walk. I am 39. My coach uses zones. If I stuck with that I would always be in zone 1, my zones range from 1-5. I could be wrong, but I think my aeorbic threshold rate is around zone 4 or 170's heart rate. I go anaeorobic at zone 5--I think. If you go by feel I think your upper aeorobic threshhold pace will feel moderate...not hard but not easy peasy. I think your calculation does not fit based on how you FEEL compared to what your heart rate is. I'm not sure how my coach calculates my zones/thresholds, but he does use timed speed tests utilizing my pace and heart rate data. You should have heart rate variability based on terrain, grade, speed. Your heart rate will bounce around unless you are focused on keeping it in a certain range and change your pace--faster downhill, slower uphill and technical. You can also stay pretty steady on a track or treadmill after you warm up a good 15 minutes.

Thanks Lori / Dente

I've actually found in the last few days that increasing my grain (brown rice / wholemeal bread) intake has led to an increase in my pace.

I've been keen to increase my ability to burn fat as energy rather than carbs and I think my body is very carb reliant.  I've been attempting to get the majority of my carbs from veg, but I think a small amount of complex carbs each day may make a difference.

Since cutting down my carb intake I've achieved a good lean mass.  I think the moral maybe stay away from donuts and processed carbs and rely on simple sugars (though rice and bread are complex carbs).  Minimising their intake has reduced my fatigue and weight.

That's good to hear.  I was thinking more about Dr. Phil's approach (I'm currently in the middle of reading his Big Book of Endurance Training) and I'll stick to my original aerobic base training comment.  I've found doing this under a very controlled / repeatable environment pays off both physically and mentally for me.  I can nail a target HR on a spin bike every time and my running benefits greatly.  Running is much more variable for me in achieving and maintaining a target HR.  The critical point he makes (and you allude to above) is improved pace for a given HR.

Keep up the good eating choices.  If you've not read Eat and Run yet, I'll suggest that as a resource.  Jurek's got some great stuff in there...he's got some pre / post run smoothies that I've found to be rather awesome!!!

You sound like you are aiming for the same things as me.  If you don't mind me asking what is your training volume?  I'm currently running this break down (give or take):

mon: 40 min

tuesday: 1.20hr

wed: rest

Thurs: 40min / perhaps in the gym on the rowing machine or bikes (with some gentle and basic movnat derived strength exercises)

friday either off or 30min

Saturday: 1.5 hours

sunday 30-40mins

I still feel very fresh with this, and I'm toying with the idea of increasing it.  However, if my aerobic fitness increases running may put more stress on my muscles and that could drain me p.s.  i walk for 40mins at lunch each day (I sit down all day otherwise and i feel like i'll rust into position....)

I'm keen not to drift into over training, but interested to see what people do on a daily basis and if it honestly works for them (i.e. they are injury / fatigue free).

I'm currently not gearing up for anything, in a state of maintaining and enjoying.  In this state I like to get about 5-6 hours of aerobic training a week.  That's normally around 50-70 mins 6 days per week.

As I begin to build for say a 50k I'll maintain the weekday run times, but taper off the intensity.  During the weeks all go back-to-back long (e.g., 120 mins Friday, 180 mins Saturday).  So, that's maybe 9-11 hours for a peak week, always off Sunday.  I'll peak the at around 240 mins on the Saturday for a 50k.  I've sometimes approached 70 miles a week during the peaks and then taper off.  Depends how I feel and that seems to work for me.

I will reiterate what Lori wrote about, that being listening to your body.  Although important all the time, sleeping, eating, and hydration very important in the weeks leading up to the peaks, during the peak week and tapering down.  Your body will try and tell you if you're screwing up any of these as you increase.  I've not listened before and learned the lessons.

I beginning my winter shutdown (Nov, Dec, Jan) from running, but will maintain my aerobic time at about 5-6 hours a week.  I'll also kick up the B2R workouts at this time to work on strength and stability in my off season.

My goal next year will be to enjoying the same injury free running I did this year!!!

If I used the MAF on several of my athletes they would be working near threshold on there aerobic runs.

Heart rate is like your finger print, every one is different and you use rely on a field test, not a calculation.

Thanks Eric, 

I'm not quite following the above.  My understanding is that you can get a more accurate aerobic zone via sports science, but isn't it a measure of metabolic efficiency, so their threshold is variable depending on an individuals level of aerobic function? Increase efficiency and an individual has a greater ranger of endurance and speed within the zone? 


I've been using Maffetone for about 8 months now. I've slightly modified it as I now do anaerobic work after a 5 month base building period, using the 180 method and changing the diet. As an ex road cyclist from the 90's the idea of no or reduced carbs was a big change. I also found myself walking a lot, then jogging really really slowly for a couple of hours at a time( I use soft stars original run amoks and love them). Anyway, the point is stick to it. If you are, like me, someone with a damaged system after years of anaerobic abuse (I love cross fit style workouts after years of weights and martial arts) then it will take time. I'm glad I stuck to it as once I reintroduced anaerobic training (ie, running with mates and MTB racing) I found the results better than I have ever achieved. I still mainly run and ride in the Maffetone zone but use the times once or twice a week I compete to be anaerobic conditioning. I have reintroduced weights using James Wilsons MTB system. Bottom line, keep at it, don't despair. If you are worried get a referral for a stress test to be sure. I'll never fully return to the previous high carb, high anaerobic HIIT I did daily for two decades.

Thanks this is great to hear.

I am making progress and though the change in pace has been a shock to the ego, I've made over a minute gain in my MAF test from 11.25 min mile for my first one, to 10.16 for my recent one  over 3 months.  A painful realisation that I have a shot aerobic system, but like you I've never consciously done aerobic activity seriously, it's always been high intensity.

I do have times where my body is having none of it and I end up running at above walking pace and then other weeks where I'm running at around 9.30 min mile pace for the whole run.  

I do have a stressful job (plus looking around for another one). I think this is one of the strongest factors in training.

What was your progression over the 5 month base building phase?



Those times are about the same for me! I've been slack with it but I can now run at a mid-pace the whole way on a flat course and stay under the relevant heart rate (138). I hit a steep hill and I have to walk again. But at first I had to walk most of the way. I'll do the test on the weekend to get the values. I started at 11:30 so I'll let you know. The difference is, on the bike I now hit a hill and I'm 10-20 bpm lower for the hill and I recover like a stone, the heart rate just drops immediately. As I cycle commute the difference is obvious. It happened all at once after 5 months. Sorry, I should have the numbers but I've been going off feel and results with my mates in local areas I know well. I've never posted in anything before, I'm glad I've given you motivation. My job is stressful too but I can't do anything else, or I choose not to, so I just have to learn to deal with it. Running and cycling help keep me sane, after a fashion.


I look forward to seeing your time.


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