This week officially marks the end of the boring disciplined MAF running. I won’t lie, I’m ridiculously excited to add some other ‘stuff’ back into my running! That said, I have zero regrets in my running over the last 8 weeks (I had to go back and count the weeks – and yay for me, I lasted 8 weeks!)
First off, what did I think of MAF? (If you want to know what MAF is and why I started training with it, read this post).
Overall, it was great. I think it was the ideal way to get back into running post marathon, and I think I’ll do it after future marathon’s and ‘big’ races, or anytime that my body starts to get overworked and tired. I can feel a HUGE difference in how I’ve recovered from the Okanagan marathon this fall compared to the Calgary Marathon last spring. After Calgary I took it easy for the first month, but then jumped back into things. From day one of my marathon cycle for the Okanagan marathon my legs had tight spots, my hips felt sore, etc. I still felt beat up from the previous marathon cycle. I also raced a half marathon just 5 weeks after the Calgary marathon. Then I jumped into a Pfitz marathon cycle with both feet. Obviously it all ended alright, and I don’t really have any regrets, but in the future I think I’ll try to recover more like I have from this last marathon.
I’ve spent the last 8 weeks running almost all my runs in my MAF heart rate zone. There have been exceptions (like when it was crazy cold out), but even during those exceptions, I kept my effort level EASY. I’ve also been working my mileage up nice and slowly, really trying to ease into things. At the same time, I’ve been making my gym workouts a priority. They had slipped a little, if not in frequency, then in quality, over the last month or two of the marathon cycle. It’s really hard to balance everything and get everything in, and my Strength Training definitely suffered. I’ve been working really hard in the gym, and have had a sore ass for a lot of the last 6 weeks or so, and I can really tell that I’m getting stronger. My body feels more solid and stable.
Over the last week or two I’ve also noticed a big difference in my paces. I’ve felt bouncier, faster, and way better on my runs than I have in ages. Last night I ran 8k, I took the first few km’s easy, my paces were 6:11, and 6:06 for the first 2 k, with my HR staying around 135 (my Max MAF is 145). The remaining km’s were 5:34, 5:37, 5:31, 5:32, 5:19 (my HR steadily rose up to around 160), my last km was over a lot of super icy areas, and crossing back over McLeod, so was a slower 5:47/km. My average HR for the entire run was 146, so just outside my MAF zone. I’m really happy with this run, and feel like especially with the icy paths it shows that I have improved a lot over the last couple months of MAF running. I didn’t actually do a MAF test, so don’t know exactly what my improvements were, but I feel great, and I’m looking forward to training hard through another cycle to see how it plays out in some races next year.
So all that said, What’s Next?
My plan for the next 4 weeks (starting next week) is to do a McMillan Hill Block. I really like the idea of starting out a cycle with some hills. They add a lot of strength, which in turn becomes speed later on. The pathways are icy here, and I don’t want to pay to use an indoor track on a regular basis, so in Calgary during the winter, hills are much easier than speed. I did a McMillan Hill Block last year before the Calgary marathon cycle, and it worked great. This time around, I’m stepping it up a bit and doing the 6-7 days per week plan. I’ve been running more, and working on getting my weekly average up around 60 kpw, and hope that I can keep that up, building a nice solid base so that I’m ready for a solid marathon cycle to start somewhere around the end of January/beginning of February.
I’m also going to try to get a bit more crosstraining in (because time is something I have in abundance, right… ). The plan right now is to swim on Monday mornings, and do yoga on Fridays. I’m hoping to get a short strength training session in sometime on the weekends also depending on the family schedule. I’m excited and determined to spend 2015 getting into the best shape of my life, and enjoying every minute of it!
Here’s a snapshot of my basic plan that I’ve laid out. Of course I’m sure it’ll change and move around as life happens (especially with Christmas happening in the middle of it). I love making a plan though so had to get something on paper!
And by ‘paper’ I actually mean a very cool new training website that I’m now subscribing to. It’s the site that a lot of trainers use to assign workouts to and track their clients. It’s called Training Peaks. There is a free version that you can use to link and track past workouts, but if you want to plan future workouts and use some of their more advanced analytics, then you have to pay for it. I decided that the cost was totally worth it, as I love spending time planning and analyzing things. Since I’ve upgraded to the paid version and have spent more time playing with it, I’m loving it more and more. It’s different than the other tracking sites I’ve been using (Strava and dailymile) as it’s not social at all. No one is going to see or ‘like’ your workouts, but it has a lot of data and is a very cool tool if you like to review workouts and plan them.