Tag Archives: MAF

Spartathlon training update

I’ve split my training plan into three main blocks:

July – Maffetone method base training

August – Strength training with some hills and speed work

September – race specific heat acclimitisation and taper


My Maffetone method training went well, and I managed to significantly increase my training volume. Historically I rarely run more than 65 miles a week, but I managed to complete a three week set of 75, 80 and 82 miles, and a total of 320 miles for the month. This is all uploaded via Garmin and synced with the ConnectStats app, which has a few good metrics, including the Performance Analysis chart shown below.

Data from ConnectStats

Data from ConnectStats

The increase in mileage left me exhausted, so I can confirm the Fatigue estimate (the red line) is probably accurate, but becuase I felt so tired it was hard to assess how it affected my fitness. At least I have survived without picking up any injuries, although there are a few niggles to monitor carefully.

To better assess fitness, I completed a MAF test at the start of July, and again on 3rd August, and these show a good improvement in fitness. At the same heart rate, my average pace is up from 7:59 to 7:34. Both tests were run on the same route.


The plan for this month is to add in some more strength and core training. I’ll also do some more hill reps to strengthen my quads for the long downhill road sections that feature at Spartathlon. We have a two week holiday planned, so that will be a good opportunity to add in some cross training (swimming, hiking, kayaking etc), but will probably mean a reduction in the volume of miles run, as I won’t do any run commutes.


I have a road marathon booked for Sunday 4th September, and will schedule a couple of tough weeks at the start of the month, before a two week taper going into the race. During this period, I’ll try to do some heat training, which may require running in woolly hats and jackets for a week or two.


MAF training for Spartathlon

I first discovered MAF (Maximum Aerobic Function) also known as the Maffetone Method a few years ago. Created by Dr Phil Maffetone it advocates slowing down to improve your effectiveness in using the body’s stored fat as a fuel for endurance events. By running at a low heart rate (generally 180-age) your body is not forced to burn carbs as fuel. When I first tried this I found I couldn’t run quicker than 9:30 mins / mile without my HR going over 135. However after two months of almost exclusively running slow with a heart rate monitor, I was running at 7:45 mins / mile at the same 135 heart rate. Since then I have regular included month long blocks of training into my plan that focus on low HR. Only when I am aerobically fit do I start to add speed work and hill reps to build strength.

Phil Maffetone also writes a lot about diet. If you are training your body to be an efficient fuel burning engine, you also need to provide it with the right raw materials. I’ve always been a bit of a ‘foodie’, and I think I eat a good and well balanced diet, so in the past I have always skipped over diet recommendations.

4 mile MAF Test - 4th July

4 mile MAF Test – 4th July

However this year, with the thought of running 153 miles clearly in my mind, I have gone back and read some of the comments about nutrition, and decided to undertake the Two Week Test.

This is not a diet, but a test, to see how you react to different foods. It starts with a two week period where you eat zero sugar and no processed carbohydrates: no bread, pasta, rice. No starchy vegetables like potatoes or legumes. After the two weeks you can re-introduce these foods and see how they make you feel.

I’ll miss eating bread and pasta, and since I don’t suffer with random weight gain, bloating or any other GI issues, I’m not expecting to make too many long terms changes to my diet, but it will be an interesting experiment, and I’ll record my thoughts and findings here, along with a diary of what I have eaten.

One good thing – While a Gin & Tonic is banned because of the sugar in the tonic, a dry martini is fine!

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