Dr. Phil Maffetone 9: Master Your Unique ‘MAF Method,’ Benefits of Testing Regularly, How to Progress, and More

February 10, 2015
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Photo by John Segesta

Photo credit: John Segesta

One of our most in-depth and valuable podcasts EVER with Dr. Phil Maffetone, and a must-listen if you want to turn into an endurance beast and master the MAF Method.

On this show topics include:

  • Maffetone’s new beard,
  • Hear Maffetone analyze a real-life MAF Test – what conclusions does he draw, and how he makes sense of the data (using Tawnee’s MAF Test as an example!)
  • Tawnee’s MAF Test Report on her blog,
  • Is it ok to start with MAF (180 formula) mid season if you wanna try different approach to your training or better finish season and start fresh in another one with plenty time before peak and A races,
  • Do you need stay on exact target MAF HR or can you train below and still have benefits?
  • Specific tempo or speed work training above threshold with the MAF Method,
  • Should you always just go at MAF, or is that not needed and other intensities ok? how to know when,
  • Bottom line of MAF: show objective improvement over time,
  • 1:59 Marathon reference  (pick up the book for yourself).

Case study with Maffetone’s analysis:

Subject: 30-year-old male triathlete

Situation: For the past 3 years I’ve gone long… 2x Ironmans, 6x 70.3, multiple marathons, and lots of olympic/sprint tri’s too. Last year I decided to train with a MAF protocol to prepare for the Black Hills 100K ultramarathon (which I finished 2nd place!).
For MAF training, I’m 30… so I kept my heart rate  below 150.

My first MAF test I ran 8:20s… second MAF 7:05… third MAF 6:40.

After that, the races started and I just stopped doing MAF testing (mistake).

But what I found was when I would go for an “easy” run at MAF… I had a really hard time getting my heart rate up to 150 BPM. I felt like I was running TOO hard to get up to 150 BPM.  In fact, I felt like my respiratory rate was a little high, even though my heart rate was low.

Now I think this is a pretty good problem to have, but one thing I’ve learned is that its better to show up to races a little under-trained and healthy versus over-trained and injured.


  • Is this difficulty reaching MAF normal? I mean I can run harder to get to that 150 BPM, but my perceived rate of exertion is pretty high. At this point, should I be adding different training tactics (intervals, tempo, strength, etc) instead of running at MAF all the time? Or do I just need to mechanically learn and get comfortable with running faster?
  • I’ve read Mark Allen was ticking off 5:20s at his MAF; I wonder if he felt like he was pushing too hard or if those 5:20s felt comfortable. Should I train at MAF forever or do you get to a point where your base is solid enough and you’re ready to add in some new training techniques?
    … and much more!

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