Okay heart, let’s try stop the beating

A few weeks ago, my personal trainer SuperStacey noticed that every time I ran, my heart rate would skyrocket above 190bpm. It’s never bugged me and I wouldn’t be faint or out of breath when I ran. But it didn’t look right.

Heart rate

This is what my heart rate usually looks like. I start running & it shoots up!

In typical Stacey fashion, she did some research to understand the issues and came up with a mini programme to train my heart. In her words, “…it makes no sense to only strengthen your hamstrings, glutes and core while your heart is what’s letting you down on the runs.” I did also occur to me that with all the running that I was doing, my aerobic fitness was terribly low. Not good.

Running Junkie Francis recognized my new running program on my Strava update as the “Maffetone” method. The what?

*Created by Phil Maffetone, the Maffetone Method is a style of training that focuses exclusively on aerobic running. Using a heart rate formula of 180 – your age (plus several corrections for injury, fitness level, health, etc.) you come up with an “aerobic maximum heart rate.”

In a nutshell, the low heart rate based Maffetone training method is meant to build up my aerobic base and keep my runs in the fat burning zone. Sounds good!

Talk about frustration, but the last couple of runs have been dreadful! Just when I get going, my watch beeps warning me that my heart rate is over the limit into what Garmin calls “Threshold” and a little red heart flashes on the watch face. I’m meant to slow down a bit until the heart turns to green indicating that my heart rate is down to aerobic levels.

Lower heart rate

Forcing myself to stop and bring down the heart rate – so far so good. It’s a big difference.

I run a few meters, hear the beep, slow down and then come to a crawl before I can run again, hear the beep, come to a crawl… a few times I’ve even had to stop to bring it down as it hovers in the 170’s!

This morning’s run felt a bit easier and it is something I’m keen to get right. It’s the patience I’m not so good with!

This is a run in March vs. May. Notice the difference in running zones.

I’ve discovered with running that there’s always something new to learn about my body and to shape my training around a new challenge.

Speed sessions. Strength training. Breathing techniques. Building my core. Leg work. When it comes to running, the training programs are endless.

I must also confess that I’m not the biggest fan of running in winter. This “maffetone phase” of mine suits me because it means I can focus on a few shorter runs, even run at the gym and not have any long distance training runs to focus on during the colder days. I might as well give it a go.

Have you ever tried it? Has it worked?

* Source: https://strengthrunning.com/2015/02/maffetone-method-and-base-training/

8 thoughts on “Okay heart, let’s try stop the beating

  1. That’s how I trained before my first marathon, I also felt frustrated and silly, at having to slow to a walk to get heart rate back down, but it really paid off. Good luck!

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  2. I’ve heard of it, but not really paid much attention. I do also however run with a very high heart rate. Even for long distance. I’ve been to Doctors etc and had ECG’s and ultrasounds. No heart problems so I just keep running and not look at my HR. Except that the high HR really helps get Discovery points 🙂

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  3. I have tried it but not for long enough – I ran out of patience! But I do have the same problem with my heart rate and I think a lot of it is down to anxiety. Anxiety about pace mainly. Also not staying in the moment, being anxious about slowing down, feeling pain and failing basically. Complicated. Really looking forward to hearing how you progress!

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    • I was actually wondering about that. My mind wonders while I run & I stress about issues like work. Thought maybe that worsened it. And then yes, stressing about bringing my rate down which just keep it climbing!

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  4. Yes, I used it this year and in fact, started with walking at a pace that kept my HR at 140 – 149. eventually I was able to run half a km, and walk half a km. Now, I am able to run 6 km with my HR staying below 150. It works, but yes, patience is key.

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