A #MAFFail in the extreme cold

As I’ve mentioned a few times now, during this off season from seriously training for any race, I’m working on building my base and endurance through MAF.  I give more detail on what this entails in the post I linked up, but basically, I’ve been wearing a Heart Rate Monitor on all my runs and trying to keep my HR below 145 or so.  This was actually going quite well for the most part, until we were struck by some extremely cold weather over the last week or 10 days.    I’ll use my long run from Saturday as an example.  I ran 14 km’s with an average pace of 6:29/km and my average heartrate was 155 bpm.  As a comparison I also ran 14 km’s 3 weeks ago, doing almost the exact same route, through Fish Creek.  My pace for that run was 5:59/km and my average heartrate was 140 bpm.  If you look at my HR for this weekend’s long run, it stayed really high for the first 11-12 km’s, and then suddenly dropped and was in my easy MAF zone.  Normally it takes about 2 km’s of slower running, or warm-up before my HR regulates and sits nicely in my MAF zone.  This past Saturday was cold when we were out running, the low overnight had been around -18 deg C, and the windchill was even cooler.  To compound things, the forecast high was really nice on Saturday, so I was optimistic and underdressed.  I spent the first 5-6 km’s feeling REALLY cold.

Here are my Strava graph from the two runs (because I’m a geek and LOVE a good graph).  The routes were virtually identical, but if you look at my HR’s and paces, you can see that on the second run, my HR didn’t regulate until almost 12 km’s in.


My theory is that it was the cold weather that made the biggest difference.  I’ve noticed a trend during any run that I’ve been cold, or the weather has been cold, my HR is unusually high for much longer than a similar run in warmer conditions.   What am I doing about this?  Well I’m trying to make sure I’m dressed warmly enough for the conditions, and I’m not really stressing my HR on these cold days.  Is that going to completely negate any positive impacts from MAF Training?  Who knows, Maffetone would probably say ‘Yes’, but I think the jury is out on that.  Either way, it’s the off season, I’m enjoying running easy, and enjoying geeking out on graphs and numbers!


4 thoughts on “A #MAFFail in the extreme cold

  1. Don’t forget that you’re working harder, just dealing with the snow, and working more carefully on your balance, just in case of ice. Plus the zillion little slips and adjustment your faithful body makes without you noticing it. I did a bit of heart rate training, and it’s entirely possible to start a workout at a higher “resting” rate in comparison to another day

  2. That’s what distractions will do, chatty coworkers. There are any number of reasons you could have started with a higher heart rate, and maintained the delta throughout.

    1. Totally agree Keith! It’s fun to watch HR and see everything that effects it. I do think the cold weather has a massive effect, as I’ve run other runs on snowy uncertain footing but not had my HR skyrocket quite the same as when it’s -20 out.

  3. Pingback: SeeyalaterMAF and on to Something New! | Terry's Blog

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