MAF Zone for LSD?

Drawing of a heart

We runners LOVE our acronyms. For example, on Saturdays (or Sundays if you prefer – these workouts are flexible) my Team in Training crew will be doing a GTS LSD with TNT. Translation: Group Training Session, long slow distance, with Team in Training. Ha! Love it?

The other acronym you will see in conjunction with GTS and LSD is MAF or Maximum Aerobic Fitness. This refers to a particular heart rate that reflects optimal aerobic training, and a number which, when exceeded, indicates a rapid transition to more anaerobic training. This number (and 10 below it) is the ideal training heart zone for athletes building their aerobic system, just like you will be.

So, how do you find out what this magic heart rate number is without going to a lab and paying a bunch of money for a cool but expensive test that measures the amount of lactate in your blood by pricking your finger (or earlobe) every few minutes while you run on a treadmill? Well, you use this awesome formula developed by Dr. Phil Maffetone.

Calculate Your Own Maximum Aerobic Training Heart Rate

  1. Subtract your age from 180.
  2. Modify this number by selecting among the following categories the one that best matches your fitness and health profile:
    a. If you have or are recovering from a major illness (heart disease, any operation or hospital stay, etc.) or are on any regular medication, subtract an additional 10.
    b. If you are injured, have regressed in training or competition, get more than two colds or bouts of flu per year, have allergies or asthma, or if you have been inconsistent or are just getting back into training, subtract an additional 5.
    c. If you have been training consistently (at least four times weekly) for up to two years without any of the problems just mentioned, keep the number (180–age) the same.
    d. If you have been training for more than two years without any of the problems listed above, and have made progress in competition without injury, add 5.

For example, if you are thirty years old and fit into category (b), you get the following: 180–30=150. Then 150–5=145 beats per minute (bpm). In this example, 145 will be the highest heart rate for your aerobic training. This is highly aerobic, allowing you to most efficiently build an aerobic base. For this individual, the MAF zone would be 135-145bpm with the goal being to stay as close as possible to 145.

The next obvious question is – what if I don’t own a heart rate monitor?

Well, then we’ll have to use the old “Perceived Exertion” scale or PE. The best way to test your perceived exertion is to try and carry on a conversation (or sing a song) while you are running. If you are in your LSD or MAF zone you should not have any trouble speaking in full sentences. If you are huffing, puffing or otherwise having trouble speaking clearly, you are running too fast. That is all there is to it! And although this sounds easy, I would prefer that everyone have a heart rate monitor. Garmin makes some excellent GPS enabled watches as does Timex, Nike, Adidas, Polar and so on. This is a great website to research a product before you buy it


Training Zone chart

For those of you who don’t own Heart Rate Monitors and aren’t able to pinpoint your MAF or calculate your 5 heart rate training zones, here is what we call the “Perceived Exertion” or PE scale:

  • Zone 1 – very easy, barely breaking a sweat.
  • Zone 2 – quite comfortable, conversational, easy “LSD” effort.
  • Zone 3 – slightly uncomfortable, half marathon race effort.
  • Zone 4 – pretty darn uncomfortable, 10k race effort.
  • Zone 5 – very very uncomfortable, all-out, 110% hard effort.

So, from now on, when your training schedule tells you to do “4 minutes in Zone 2 followed by 1 minute Zone 5″ you will know that translates to “run very comfortably for 4 minutes and then make yourself very VERY UNcomfortable for 1 minute”.

Don’t worry if you don’t get it at first, as your training progresses this stuff will become second nature and you will intuitively know how hard you can push yourself for any given duration and exertion level. That is what will make you a better, faster and more adept athlete with more than just one speed… it also builds character!


Ironman 70.3 Syracuse

It’s not quite a done deal… yet… but it may as well be (I just haven’t paid my entry fee yet). On June 24th I will be competing in Ironman 70.3 Syracuse.

For those of you who aren’t “in the know”, an Ironman 70.3 is 1.9 km swim / 90 km bike / 21.1 km run or 1.2 mile swim / 56 mile bike / 13.1 mile run (which adds up to 70.3 miles – clever eh?).

I’ve been training for a May/June Ironman since a week or so after The Goofy but I just hadn’t chosen one or signed up. But now Ellie has the time off work, I am gaining confidence and strength, and Coach Ben has set out the training schedule… so – why the hell not? I’m 40-years-old and not getting any younger.

Ironman training is pretty time consuming, which is why I have been reluctant to do it in the past. For example, this week:

  • Monday: 60 minutes on the Bike (easy aerobic) and 30 minutes resistance training,
  • Tuesday: 75 minutes swim (form drills),
  • Wednesday: 60 minutes bike (power drills) and 30 minutes resistance training,
  • Thursday: 75 minutes swim (form drills) and 45 minutes running (intense hills),
  • Friday: 60 minutes swimming (slow endurance),
  • Saturday: 3 hour run (slow endurance) and 2.5 hour bike (long hills),
  • Sunday: Foam roll and Yoga.

I am no mathematician but that is an average of 90-100 minutes per day. Woo! That is pretty hardcore for a dude with a full time web job, a part time coaching job, a girlfriend and a life… ok, I don’t have a life – other than training for Ironman.

Stay tuned and I will try to be more diligent in updating this blog with my progress. You can also follow me on TrainingPeaks if you want… but their interface for observing athletes from the frontend is pretty poor so I will understand if you don’t.

Note – 2 days after this post was written I paid my entry fee – it is now officially official!

Without My Ducklings

Running so fast I blurredIt has been quite a while since I have had to train on my own. Actually, I can literally pinpoint the day – the day I joined Team in Training.

Sure, I would head out for the odd run alone but I could always count on having at least two training sessions per week (”quality” and “long slow”) with my peeps (is that still a word?). Since I started the Runner Makeover I have been aspiring to speeds that I would dare not inflict on my unsuspecting team of trainees. Don’t get me wrong, I am loving everything about this makeover but it is a little lonely without my little running ducklings (a name my 2009 Vancouver team got as they followed me, single file, through the rain to the race expo).

I still meet up with my team on Tuesday nights and Saturday mornings (when the weather permits, this has been a long and harsh Edmonton winter) but that only accounts for 10-15kms of my weekly 70-80km, of which most are done between 5:45am – 8:00am. I blame the ridiculous time of day on my work week. I work full-time as a web developer, teach Design Studies at MacEwan University, coach for Team and Training, get my own training done… and try to have a life. Ha!

I’m not complaining, I enjoy a busy day but it does lead to lonely runs, at early hours, without my running ducklings.

You want me to run how fast? ok!

Me and my new adizeroboston shoes.♪ Baby it’s cold out there but it’s nice and warm on the track ♫

Ok, so that’s not a song… but it was indeed a lot warmer at the track this morning than it was outside. -46°C with the windchill when I got up at 5:15 to head to the Kinsmen Sport Center here in Edmonton. “Gross” is all I have to say about that.

Anyway, armed with my new Adidas shoes, shorts, socks, shirt and miCoach gear I hit the track this morning for a steady 12km run at 5:00/km. A few weeks ago I would have been intimidated by that type of workout (see Chrystal’s Fear and (or maybe of) Running post) but lately, this has been the norm. Heck, last week Coach Tania had me log 78kms. Yeah, I am pretty chuffed! Prior to this makeover, I severely impressed myself with a 50km week!

Lately my favourite day of the week has become Thursday – that’s the day I do the fun stuff. Last week it was “3 x 3000m @ 4:30/km with a 600m rest”. This week I get to do “5 x 2000m at 4:20/km with a 500m rest”. I have always been a believer in speed training but never to this extent. Pray for me! :) I will let you know how it goes.

Running through the pow-pow

A Rather Snowy RunThe streets of Edmonton are much more suited to downhill skiing than running today, there’s about 5cm of fresh powder covering every trail, sidewalk and path but I just got home from my Long Slow Distance run as prescribed by our awesome Make-Over Coach Tania Jones. 22km in all (well ok, 21.46 according to the lovely voice in the Adidas miCoach) through the wind, snow and cold. Luckily 7.25km of it was spent leading my Team in Training group on their 3rd “Group Training Session” – these kinds of runs are always more pleasant in a group.

A few weeks ago I was laying in bed, checking my email on my phone wishing someone would bring me a coffee when I saw I had an email from Tania Jones. The name rang a loud bell but I wasn’t sure why. A quick Google search later and I was out of bed, giggling like a schoolboy, getting my wits together before I replied.

I had a vague memory of submitting a paragraph to something about a marathon make-over but had figured it was long over and gone so hadn’t thought of it in a while. Plus I never win anything… ever.

When I got off the phone with Tania, being the social media internet nerd I am, I immediately jumped on FaceBook and Twitter to spread my exciting news. That was quickly reeled in. I wasn’t to talk about the contest until the February issue of iRun was published. It was an excruciating time. Not as excruciating as the workouts I was soon to embark on… but I will save that for another post.

For now, I just want to thank iRun for this amazing opportunity, Adidas for all the wicked gear (it fits perfectly and makes me look FAST), and most of all Tania for all her guidance and encouragement. It’s only been a few weeks but I can literally measure the progress I have made.

I can’t wait for the weeks to come.