Slow Down, to Speed Up!

Yeti Water bottles and goodr sunglasses on the running track

Sandy, my principle researcher, has been trying to help us find ways to increase our race paces, or in layman’s terms, SPEED UP! We’ve gotten pretty well trained at endurance, and have successfully completed distances up to a full marathon (and the 48.6-mile Dopey Challenge in 2018), but we have always had the desire to go faster… doesn’t everyone? No, we aren’t dreaming of winning Boston (or Badlands) but it would be nice to not have to look at races from the “can we make the cutoff?” perspective. And those of you who are fellow Disney runners will know that there are many benefits to being a little faster and getting a better corral placement (we’ll go over all of that strategy in a future post).

Since there doesn’t seem to be an instant solution (that doesn’t require being hospitalized afterward) we have started looking at the MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) or Maffetone Method (named for Dr. Phil Maffetone, who developed the test in the 1980’s). I won’t go into all the technical details here, Dr. Maffetone has an in-depth explanation on his website, that I recommend you check out. The gist is that by running slow (or slowER) and maintaining a prescribed heart rate, called the maximum aerobic heart rate, you develop a stronger aerobic base which leads to safer, more effective anaerobic training (aka speed work) later in the process.

Traditionally, it is thought that only anaerobic training – speed work – builds speed. However, developing the aerobic system first, before attempting hard work, is ideal: you get faster without the wear and tear – and injury – that often accompanies anaerobic training. Using a heart rate monitor, a basic biofeedback device, makes it even easier.

Dr. Phil Maffetone – “Want Speed? Slow Down!” 

The premise is solid and definitely makes sense. Sandy and I have started working this method into our established training plan over the past several days. It’s obviously too early on to discuss any long-term benefits, but I can say that in the couple workouts where we have used the MAF method we have both felt quite worked out, even though our pace was very slow. The end result remains to be seen, but if you are looking for a way to spice up your current training plan, I would definitely give the MAF method a shot.

Tried the MAF method? I’d love to hear how it worked (or didn’t) for you. Your input is appreciated and might help other readers in their own quest for speed.

Happy running!