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Road to Nowhere

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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Mon Jan 23, 2012 10:41 pm

Michele "1L" Keane wrote:Yeah!

Joel H wrote:

+1

Thanks! Very Happy

It's evening, and the foot's a teensy bit sore... but not much more than it has been.

I'll rest it tomorrow and try another 30 minutes on Wednesday. I need to take this nice and easy.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Neil Ruggiero on Tue Jan 24, 2012 9:40 am

Just cathing up here, and I totally agree with you that "racing gets in the way of running". Its kinda why I got into ultra marathons, because I felt like it didn't matter how fast I ran or how I placed. At the end of the day, all that mattered was having a good time.

Enjoy the relaxing year of training!
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Kenny B. on Tue Jan 24, 2012 10:29 am

Glad to see you get a run in!
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:25 pm

Neil Ruggiero wrote:Just cathing up here, and I totally agree with you that "racing gets in the way of running". Its kinda why I got into ultra marathons, because I felt like it didn't matter how fast I ran or how I placed. At the end of the day, all that mattered was having a good time.

Enjoy the relaxing year of training!

Hi, Neil! Thanks for stopping by. I have to admit, I'm leaning in the ultra direction myself. Once I'm ready. Need to rush into it.

By the way, are you still doing the barefoot thing?

Kenny B. wrote:Glad to see you get a run in!

Yeah, that was nice, Kenny. The foot feels pretty good this morning, which is a good sign. My legs are a little sore, which I suppose is to be expected ... Wink
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Joel H on Tue Jan 24, 2012 12:46 pm

Glad to hear the foot is feeling pretty good.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Neil Ruggiero on Tue Jan 24, 2012 1:00 pm

Still doing the barefoot thing when I can Smile However with the weather in New England its rare that the temperature is right for me to go totally barefoot. Mostly running in some Vibrams and I'm gonna be picking up the NB Minimus zero when it comes out in March.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:07 pm

Joel H wrote:Glad to hear the foot is feeling pretty good.

So far, so good, Joel. I'm still getting little twinges, but I seem to be getting them regardless of activity. So I might as well get some activity.

Neil Ruggiero wrote:Still doing the barefoot thing when I can Smile However with the weather in New England its rare that the temperature is right for me to go totally barefoot. Mostly running in some Vibrams and I'm gonna be picking up the NB Minimus zero when it comes out in March.

I could see why New England in the winter might not be the best place to run barefoot. Glad the VFFs are still working for you. I tried running in those once and completely forgot how to run! I felt like I'd had some sort of brain injury and couldn't use my legs! It was pretty comical.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Wed Jan 25, 2012 1:07 pm

Low HR - Rehab Run: 30 minutes

Weather: Indoors, on the treadmill. Gear: FR2s

My foot was sore this morning, though not where it was actually injured, so I decided to take a shot at another 30 minutes on the treadmill. I paid closer attention to the HR this time and did my best to ignore the "Pace" reading on the treadmill itself. (It was s-l-o-w) I started out with a warmup walk, speeding up to very slow and then progressed to slow, before slowing again and walking the last five minutes or so. Most of the time, I kept the HR at or below 138, though it slipped up a couple of times.

The foot doesn't seem the worse for wear after the run. But my legs are reminding me that it's been a while since I've run.. especially at this pace! Very interesting.

I didn't bother to note the distance because, well, that isn't really the point right now, is it?

Average HR for full 30 minutes: 125
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  dot520 on Thu Jan 26, 2012 4:51 am

Just got here for the first time and I read your blog from the start. The xray is awesome scary but most of us don't know what are inner workings really look like...we just plug on until we're finally stopped by our own bodies.

Congrats on the run. Every now and again I think about the low HR training and toy with the idea of giving it a chance. What is your max HR?
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Neil Ruggiero on Thu Jan 26, 2012 9:42 am

Glad to hear you got another 30 minute run in!
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Thu Jan 26, 2012 12:10 pm

dot520 wrote:Just got here for the first time and I read your blog from the start. The xray is awesome scary but most of us don't know what are inner workings really look like... we just plug on until we're finally stopped by our own bodies.

Congrats on the run. Every now and again I think about the low HR training and toy with the idea of giving it a chance. What is your max HR?

Hi, Dot! Thanks for the visit. I think you're right about the X-ray. The range of mutations/variability in the human form is pretty amazing, but not as amazing as how our bodies seem to figure out how to compensate and allow us to function all pretty much the same. Score one for adaptability!

The last time I checked my HRMax was a few years ago now, during a 5k, and I hit 193 - far higher than the charts said. But when you're doing low HR training, Maffetone style, that HRMax doesn't figure into the calculation. Instead, you use his 180-Formula . In it, you start at 180, subtract your age and then adjust slightly to allow for your current health and fitness level. (It's all explained in greater detail in the link above.) That becomes the maximum heart rate allowed (also known as the MAF heart rate) in low HR workouts; any higher, and you'll not be properly stimulating your aerobic slow-twitch muscle fibers. Ideally (and I fail at this pretty much all the time), you exercise at a rate between that MAF level and 10 bpm below it.

Maffetone explains it all in his book, "The Maffetone Method," which you can buy used for an insanely low price at Amazon.com.

I've seen good results with this sort of training. It does a great job of building endurance, and the more you do it, the faster you get.

Neil Ruggiero wrote:Glad to hear you got another 30 minute run in!

Thanks, Neil! My knee was oddly sore yesterday, which puzzled me, until I realized that I must have overdone a quad stretch and cranked my kneecap into my femur. Oops! It feels fine now, though.

I'll rest again today, then do another 30 minute workout tomorrow if all continues to go well. Baby steps.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu Jan 26, 2012 1:27 pm

Just had an "aha!" moment regarding MAF HR... This sounds to be very similar to what I've recently come across, referred to as your aerobic threshold. I know that for some, AeT means the threshold between aerobic and tempo, but this is referring more to the other end of that scale: the point in which you actually begin to "exercise."

Physiologically, it's when your breath deepens (as opposed to when you start panting, which is your anaerobic threshold). HR, it's the upper end of "zone 1" or the lower end of "zone 2," if you use Joe Friel's numbers (~83-90% of your LTHR). RPE, we're talking about a 2-3 on the 1-10 scale. With regards to what's happening in your body, you're using tremendous amounts of fats and close to no glycogen as fuel, and you're only utilizing those slow-twitch muscles. Sounds about right for MAF?

I believe it was Tolstoy who said about religion - gonna paraphrase here - that there may be many, many paths we could take, but they all lead to the same thing. Like the blind-mice-and-the-elephant story. ...Did anyone follow that? What a Face
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Thu Jan 26, 2012 2:20 pm

Mike MacLellan wrote:Just had an "aha!" moment regarding MAF HR... This sounds to be very similar to what I've recently come across, referred to as your aerobic threshold. I know that for some, AeT means the threshold between aerobic and tempo, but this is referring more to the other end of that scale: the point in which you actually begin to "exercise."

Physiologically, it's when your breath deepens (as opposed to when you start panting, which is your anaerobic threshold). HR, it's the upper end of "zone 1" or the lower end of "zone 2," if you use Joe Friel's numbers (~83-90% of your LTHR). RPE, we're talking about a 2-3 on the 1-10 scale. With regards to what's happening in your body, you're using tremendous amounts of fats and close to no glycogen as fuel, and you're only utilizing those slow-twitch muscles. Sounds about right for MAF?

I believe it was Tolstoy who said about religion - gonna paraphrase here - that there may be many, many paths we could take, but they all lead to the same thing. Like the blind-mice-and-the-elephant story. ...Did anyone follow that? What a Face

Regarding the physiology of the Maffetone approach: Yes we're talking pretty much about the same thing. The type of aerobic training advocated by Maffetone is a type of activity that occurs before the body switches from utilizing fats to utilizing glycogen as the primary energy source. The idea behind it is twofold: First, it reduces stress on the body, allowing you to progress more steadily toward fitness while maintaining your health; Second, it conditions the slow-twitch aerobic muscle fibers that are largely bypassed when people exercise at too high an intensity... and end up not being there for you when you need them during endurance events.

The very-smart-but-long-winded Hadd also wrote extensively about that phenomenon, though his recommendations (read 'em here: Hadd's Approach to Distance Training) for specific workouts differ slightly.

Blind mice and elephants? I think you meant blind MEN and elephants, unless the farmer's wife plays a long-forgotten role in Indian folklore. Wink
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mike MacLellan on Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:20 pm

Shoot, you're right. I don't know why I thought it was mice.

But it sounds like we're both - as you correctly pointed out - blind men, in that case. Does Hadd or Maffetone have any recommendation for occasional VO2max early in the workout to encourage fast-twitch fibers to act like slow-twitch fibers during these low HR runs? I remember reading both of the links you've posted about their theories back in the HH days, but I can't remember if they had anything like that in them.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Thu Jan 26, 2012 3:29 pm

Mike MacLellan wrote:Shoot, you're right. I don't know why I thought it was mice.

But it sounds like we're both - as you correctly pointed out - blind men, in that case. Does Hadd or Maffetone have any recommendation for occasional VO2max early in the workout to encourage fast-twitch fibers to act like slow-twitch fibers during these low HR runs? I remember reading both of the links you've posted about their theories back in the HH days, but I can't remember if they had anything like that in them.

Their recommendations are identical: Don't do it! It takes time for the slow twitch muscles to build mitochondria and greater capillary density. Throwing in anaerobic stimulus short circuits the process of aerobic adaptation. Intensity is fine, they say, with limits, AFTER you have built your aerobic base.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  dot520 on Thu Jan 26, 2012 8:33 pm

Mark, I've read the book and somewhat absorbed it. My Max HR is 205 and when I did the calcs it was somewhere around 126 and I could boost it up to 131. That is really low. Not sure that I could actually be running with that HR. I find that really easy running for me puts me up in the 142-144 range after several miles. Do you go for an average for the overall workout or are you trying to stay at your designated HR through out?

I was curious about your Max because a lot of the folks on here have a max of 170-ish and I can see where the formula would work out well for them doing the easy low HR running. I guess I just can't seem to buy into a one size fits all math formula. Or maybe I'm just not very fit! Mad
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Thu Jan 26, 2012 11:54 pm

dot520 wrote:Mark, I've read the book and somewhat absorbed it. My Max HR is 205 and when I did the calcs it was somewhere around 126 and I could boost it up to 131. That is really low. Not sure that I could actually be running with that HR. I find that really easy running for me puts me up in the 142-144 range after several miles. Do you go for an average for the overall workout or are you trying to stay at your designated HR through out?

I was curious about your Max because a lot of the folks on here have a max of 170-ish and I can see where the formula would work out well for them doing the easy low HR running. I guess I just can't seem to buy into a one size fits all math formula. Or maybe I'm just not very fit! Mad

Well, my MaxHR of 193 - and it drives me crazy when I'm running along and my training partner's HR is 20 beats below mine at the same speed, but such is the way it works sometimes.

To answer the question... if you follow Maffetone's guidelines, the MaxHR is pretty much meaningless. He goes entirely by the 180-age formula, with adjustments. And yes, it does mean running VERY SLOW at first.

I don't know if you remember it, but at one point I remember blogging about not being able to catch up with a fitness walker while out on a low HR run. Fourteen-minute miles are not unheard of.. at first. But you get faster as your aerobic fibers begin to adapt to the lower intensity workout. A lot faster. Low HR training allowed me to significantly improve my PR at the marathon distance - without overtraining or injury (which may be the biggest benefit of low HR work).

Hadd's guidelines are somewhat different. He bases it on Max HR (though he tops out the MaxHR at 193, saying anybody with a MaxHR higher than that should just use 193), and says aerobic training is at a HR of no more than MaxHR-50. In my case (and your case), that'd be 143. But he also says that running at a lower HR works, too.

As you can see, both appear a little arbitrary. But I think their point is to get your exertion level well below that tipping point, and that there isn't really a downside if you end up going a little slower than if you'd had your optimum aerobic running HR established in a physiology lab. Much better to be a little too slow than a little too fast and cross the threshold.

I cheated a little when I did my low HR work and probably blundered over that threshold more than a few times (and paid for it by ending up overtrained). I picked a range that went between the Maffetone 180-age formula (adjusted to make it about 138) and the Hadd standard of MaxHR-50 (which worked out to 143). I think I saw the biggest improvements, and the least amount of overtraining, when I kept it closer to the Maffetone standard. So I'll be targeting a HR of about 135-138 for the foreseeable future.

And to the "do I really have to keep it below that level ALL the time?" question: Yes. The point is to keep your exertion level BELOW the threshold where your anaerobic metabolism kicks in. You do NOT want to go over the line, because once you do, the benefits don't accrue. For me, that meant running s-l-o-w until my HR crept up too high for even that glacial pace. Then I'd slow down until my HR fell back into the proper range. If slowing down didn't work, I'd drop to a walk and "walk down" my HR. Initially, I had to do that a lot. But over time, that need disappeared. That was one way to observe improvement.

Another great way to notice improvement was to see how my runs slowly got a little longer, a little longer, then a LOT longer in the same time period. I'd train by time, not distance, which is pretty important in making this type of program work. It takes patience.

Wow, this is bringing back so many memories! It's getting me excited about getting back to it, low HR style. Very Happy

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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Fri Jan 27, 2012 2:39 pm

Low HR Run: 30 minutes

Weather: Freezing fog outside, 68 and cozy inside on the treadmill. Gear: FR2s.

Back on the treadmill this morning as I continue to rehab my foot and start to slowly ease my way back into running. Since I'm committing to the low HR strategy, I made a point this time of setting the treadmill to show only the elapsed time. I started off with a five-minute walk to warm up, then picked up the speed. I managed to hold about a 12/mi pace, keeping my HR below 138, until about 17 minutes in when it slipped up and I had to slow down a bit. I ended it up with a five-minute walk to cool down, trying to get my HR to fall below 100. Didn't happen, but it got close.

The foot felt good, and my body is starting to remember what it feels like to run, which was nice. I was able to keep my HR down this time by trying to relax and breathe properly.

Average HR for entire workout (including walking): 118.

I will probably take Saturday and Sunday off and repeat this process next week.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  dot520 on Fri Jan 27, 2012 9:47 pm

Thank you so much Mark for the explanation. There are two sides to this in terms of my getting excited about training like this. The first is that I would love to feel like I could go on forever which might happen with a slow enough pace, but the second side is that...how patient can I really be to go as slow as I would need to? Smile The Hadd method would be easier for me if I used low 140's because I can run a lot of miles at this HR. Given my performances, maybe I already train at lower HR but have been stuck here! Who knows.

I'm going to keep an eye on your blog and see how this all plays out.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sat Jan 28, 2012 11:58 am

dot520 wrote:Thank you so much Mark for the explanation. There are two sides to this in terms of my getting excited about training like this. The first is that I would love to feel like I could go on forever which might happen with a slow enough pace, but the second side is that...how patient can I really be to go as slow as I would need to? Smile The Hadd method would be easier for me if I used low 140's because I can run a lot of miles at this HR. Given my performances, maybe I already train at lower HR but have been stuck here! Who knows.

I'm going to keep an eye on your blog and see how this all plays out.

Heh. You sound like me (and probably everybody who tries low HR running), trying to rationalize going just a little bit faster. Very Happy Even so, I'm sure the Hadd approach would work very well for you. As for patience, check out how my speed progressed at the same HR in this series of MAF tests* I did back before my PR in Eugene in 2010:



So you can see, this played out very well once already. It's important to remember that conditioning the low end allows you to go faster with less effort, not just at the lower HR level, but at a higher HR, as well.

I'm sure my MAF times would be slower now, but that's one reason why I'm going to start it up again.

*-MAF tests involve going to a track, and, after a one-mile warmup, running five miles while keeping your HR as close as possible to your target (for me, 138), slowing as necessary to keep your HR from rising above that target. Record the mile splits and save them for future reference. The fitter you get, the less you have to slow down, and the faster you get overall. (That huge slowdown in January 2010 came when I went on the South Beach Diet. I lost weight but the impact a lack of carbs had on running was pretty amazing!)
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  dot520 on Sat Jan 28, 2012 1:33 pm

Those are some pretty convincing numbers. Wow! Okay, I'm dragging the book out today and then look up Hadd and see how I'm going to tweak my schedule for the Indy Mini in May. I really don't know why I'm resisting so....it's not as if I've had stellar performances at the speeds I have now. LOL
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:13 pm

dot520 wrote:Those are some pretty convincing numbers. Wow! Okay, I'm dragging the book out today and then look up Hadd and see how I'm going to tweak my schedule for the Indy Mini in May. I really don't know why I'm resisting so....it's not as if I've had stellar performances at the speeds I have now. LOL

Cool! You won't be able to maximize your aerobic potential by May, of course, but you can make some noticeable progress in that time period. The physiology (as described by Hadd) works this way: It takes six weeks for the positive adaptations (growing mitochondria, capillaries) of low HR training to manifest themselves. You normally see a small improvement in speed after three weeks and a more significant increase in six weeks. The process continues every six weeks until you've maxed out your potential. That takes a while.

The other thing to note, as you can see in the chart I posted above, is that the improvements first manifest themselves not in the first mile, but in the later miles. You'll notice that you have to slow down less over time to maintain that target heart rate. Eventually, it gets to the point to where you have hardly any fall-off in speed as the miles progress. (And as that happens, your overall speed starts to pick up, too.) THAT is the sort of entrance benefit that really pays dividends when race day rolls around.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mike MacLellan on Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:27 pm

Here's a question for the Hadd/Maff guru... Is there a possible adjustment for cycling? And if so, will the benefits be cross-sport? My guess is that the answer to both is "yes, but there hasn't been much research done on it." Seems like capillaries are capillaries, and while they may be produced in different proportions in cycling and running, they're still there. Same with mitochondria. Thoughts?
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sat Jan 28, 2012 2:38 pm

Mike MacLellan wrote:Here's a question for the Hadd/Maff guru... Is there a possible adjustment for cycling? And if so, will the benefits be cross-sport? My guess is that the answer to both is "yes, but there hasn't been much research done on it." Seems like capillaries are capillaries, and while they may be produced in different proportions in cycling and running, they're still there. Same with mitochondria. Thoughts?

Not much research? Au contraire! There's a lot.

In fact, Maffetone's book, High Performance Heart: Effective Training with the HRM for Health, Fitness and Competition (buy it for as little as 1 penny used at Amazon!), is pretty much written for cyclists, though I used it to construct my training approach back in 2009.

And yes, the basic principles work in different disciplines... as long as you follow the low HR guidelines. Remember: At a fundamental level, this is about the amount of stress your body can handle before positive adaptation ceases and slow self-destruction begins. The goal is to become fit without having to sacrifice your health to do so.

But... health vs. fitness doesn't mean sacrificing the ability to compete. One of Maffetone's most high-profile advocates is five-time Ironman champion Mark Allen. So yeah. There are big benefits across disciplines.
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Re: Road to Nowhere

Post  Mark B on Sat Jan 28, 2012 3:02 pm

Hey, I just noticed something interesting.



After I wrote about how low HR training worked toward being able to run long distances with little fall-off in speed at the same level of exertion, I took a look at the chart and realized that I most closely achieved that standard back on Sept. 6, 2009. Sure, I was going faster at the same heart rate in later MAF tests, but I had to slow more as the miles progressed.

For example, if I had run my April 25, 2010, MAF test with the same level of endurance as my Sept. 9, 2009, test, I would have run Mile 5 at about a 9:03 pace, not a 9:36. Was this a harbinger of the doom that was to strike later that summer? Maybe, maybe not. But it is interesting.

What makes it MORE interesting is this: All my runs up to Sept 9, 2009, were low HR runs, Maffetone style. Nine days after that test, I started adding in Hadd-inspired "initial lactate threshold" heart rate runs, which are essentially lower-intensity extended tempo runs. All my MAF tests after that reflect a mix of low HR runs and the lactate threshold runs. And while I got faster, I couldn't sustain the speed. Which I kind of, er, noticed when I was out on the marathon course. And I eventually burned myself out and saw my MAF times take a nosedive.

Here's the REST of my MAF test chart until I ditched HR training in May 2010... (My race time in Eugene 2011 isn't in the chart, but it was 4:22:29.)



Hm...




Last edited by Mark B on Thu Apr 19, 2012 10:16 pm; edited 1 time in total
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Re: Road to Nowhere

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