After years of following and sharing the Maffetone Method (low heart rate training), the number of questions I’m getting about it seems to be on the rise. More of you are coming to my way of thinking, mwhahahaaaa.

It’s so simple that it genuinely feels confusing or impossible!

Here is an overview of the basics on LHR: you calculate your max heart rate from a provided formula and then use it as threshold for all of your workouts. I’ve written a lot about this, so for more details on the basics read these:

Why follow? Again read the original article, but in short:

All right, now we’ve touched on the what and the why, let’s dive in to the how.

Tired of breaking down during every marathon training cycle? Maybe it’s time to explore Low Heart Rate Training #running Click To Tweet

How to Implement Maffetone?

Trust me, this is going to seem WAY too simple in comparison to your normal training plan with all kinds of workout variety. Which again is one thing touched on in the first article, it may not be right for you if you NEED variety to keep you showing up.

  1. Find a training plan that will help guide you in terms of total mileage for your goal race.
  2. Complete the miles listed, but NEVER going above your calculated max HR. That basically means you’re doing the miles, but not the speed workouts.
  3. If you go above max HR during a run, you immediately transition to a walk. Give your HR time to come back down and then you can begin to run again.
  4. You may need to cut down some of the miles initially if you find that even with walk breaks you’re HR is going too high.
  5. No cross training can be done above your max HR.
  6. NEVER go above your max HR…no zone training, it’s literally just getting close to max, but never going over.

Yes it’s really that straightforward!

A few more of the questions you’ve asked…

But I’m so slow?!
Yes starting out you are going to have to slow down. This is you finally allowing your body to create a solid aerobic base. By the end of 8-10 weeks, you should see that you are running your previous pace or faster at LHR.

My HR spikes initially?
You aren’t warming up enough or your watch is funky. For some reason, occasionally you’ll find the HR reading is off the first mile, but that’s something you’ll learn with time as you get more used to running by feel.  If it’s always that the first mile your HR jumps way up, you need to spend more time on the warm up.

Your first mile should actually be about 10 beats below your max, so spend plenty of time walking and doing dynamic movements before you even begin a light run. All of this will help you run farther with less energy over time.

Can I do any speed workouts?
Initially no because that is going to push your HR. After a minimum of 8-10 weeks at LHR you can try a couple of things:

A. Hop on a treadmill with a decline feature and use that to allow you to pick up the pace. This will keep your HR down, while allowing you to practice leg turn over.

B. Try adding just 1 short speed workout each week. That might be 5 x 1 minute sprints the first week or a little bit of a speed play workout. If you notice a decrease in your energy levels or that your other runs are getting slower at LHR, it’s time to cut this back out because you haven’t built enough of a base.

What if I can’t get my HR up to my maximum?
If you’re in your 20’s this is far more likely. A 160 HR for  me requires really pushing the pace, while 144 (my current max) is a great everyday run pace right now.

If you’re 30 and older finding yourself struggling to get close to your max HR, that’s often a sign you’re already over trained. A low resting heart rate is good only to a certain point, then it’s a sign that your body is so overtaxed it can’t perform. This could be from a lot of intense workouts, dehydration or poor nutrition.

What do you use to measure HR?
Never ever use the cardio machines, they’re unreliable and while you’re holding on you’re changing your HR. I’ve reviewed a number of watches over the years, but swear by all of the new one’s that do HR through the wrist strap. Here is a detailed review of the current watch I use and why.

Have you tried LHR?

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