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MAF for the mountains my way

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  • MAF for the mountains my way

    Normally I run to stay in shape. I try to work up to running 3 or 4 miles a few times a week. I have a hard time running and not getting injured. I feel like running is a struggle.

    This year I wanted to try the MAF type of training.

    MAF stands for Maximum Aerobic Function and is championed by Phil Maffetone. He turns it into a whole lifestyle. I just want a better way to workout. Now most people that use MAF training are marathoners or triathletes. I just want to get to top of a ADK peak and enjoy myself and not get a heart attack.

    Phil Maffetone has a mythical MAF number which is 180 - your age. You can subtract 5 if you have lots of injuries or illness or add 5 if you are in good shape. You are supposed to do the bulk of your workouts below this heart rate.

    I used my wahoo heart rate monitor and app. I configured the app with my heart rate zones so that the top of zone 2 was my MAF number 121. So now I just had to stay in zone 2 as I exercised.

    In the beginning I just put on my heart rate monitor and started to walk in my development and to my horror I was close to my my MAF number of 121 just walking around. If I walked up a hill or walked too fast I would hear my phone say "ZONE 3" and have to slow down until I heard "Zone 2".

    So I walked and figured as I got in better shape I would switch to running. Somedays walking in the development for about an hour other times in Ushers Road park for 2 hours.

    As time went on I hit zone 3 less and less. I don't like running in the cold or snow or dark so instead of running I came up with a new idea. I got out a book bag and put 2 liters of water in it and that did it. I could walk around like before. I was hitting zone 3 if I walked too fast and at the top of a hill.

    Another 2 or 3 weeks went by I added 5 pounds more so the pack weighed 12 pounds.

    Three weeks later I switched to my old Karrimor pack which has a hip belt. I dropped in a thick sweatshirt and 17 pound kettlebell. I have done 3 workouts with this combination. I did a good job with it today.

    I feel like I am getting in shape and walking with a weighted pack is more like what I am training for.

    I also noticed that normally when I walk up a hill or need to speed up, I tense up and use more force. You learn quickly that this raises your heart rate and blows you into zone 3. I am trying to learn to relax over the hills and when speeding up. It's hard to explain. I will try to come up with the words to describe this better as time goes on.

    I am concerned where I am going in the future. Walking with a heavy pack on local roads could but a strain on my feet and knees. I will have get to the park more than I am now.

    I will be doing some cross training with my bike as the weather warms. I will use my heart rate monitor on the bike too. I could try some running too.
    Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
    ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

  • #2
    There's a great book out there called I Hate Running and You Can Too, by Brian Leonard. It not a training guide, nor does it use physiological maths to measure output or peak performance. It simply rationalizes taking a relatively uncomfortable activity and turning it into a hobby or sport. Its clever, self-depricating, and makes sense. I recommend it to anyone who has any interest at all in even being able to run, much less becoming "a runner."

    Anecdotally speaking, I've treated my body like a safety deposit box for craft beer and chicken wings over the past year and it really shows. Since my local trails are now snow and ice free I have re-committed myself to running again, and am determined to do so without re-injuring my back. Couch to 5k (C25K) has been a great app for this because it urges me to do something that I otherwise would never do on my own: stop running and walk. It seems counterintuitive and very much like giving in to the body's weakness and wanting to quit, but its a good for avoiding those repetitive use injuries that plague so many runners. Right now, as of last night actually, my "comfortable" 5k time is a glacial 42:00 (12:52/mile, including periods of walking). Its very slow, but it also feels good pretty much the whole time and doesn't make me dread my next run. I alternate run days with weight training days, six days per week. I'm not pushing hard to improve my lifting ability, nor am I pushing myself to decrease my 5k time. I've found that by removing the "I need to train for XYZ" and simply reintroducing both activities as mandatory parts of my daily life's functions, like eating, pooping, sleeping, etc, I'm actually looking forward to them each day rather than dreading them.

    I'm also using weight for running from time to time, but I'm avoiding any artificial weight and using exactly what I hike with. My 15L trail running vest with a full bladder, mid layer, rain shell, first aid kit, map and compass, spare socks, headlamp(s), batteries, filter, etc. Something else that can help with reducing the risk of running injuries is alternating running shoes. I've been using a pair of Brooks Glycerine and Altra Torin 4.5 Plush. While each shoe fits me well, they both promote very different running mechanics, which means that on consecutive runs I'm using those joints and muscle groups in slightly different ways.

    There isn't any right or wrong as long as you aren't hurting yourself. Definitely try to vary your workouts if you can. Even switching sides of the road can be a big help in reducing your risk of injury as long as the local traffic situation allows it. Also try to trail run whenever possible. It forces you to slow down, take smaller strides, and work with a more forgiving surface.
    My mind was wandering like the wild geese in the west.

    Comment


    • Bunchberry
      Bunchberry commented
      Editing a comment
      I just got my second covid shot so in 2 weeks I will be going to the local running store for new sneakers.

    • FlyFishingandBeer
      FlyFishingandBeer commented
      Editing a comment
      Bunchberry is there a FleetFeet near you?

    • Bunchberry
      Bunchberry commented
      Editing a comment
      I do have a fleet feet in Malta like 10 minutes from my house. I actually visited the store before covid and was planning on buying my next pair of sneakers from them.

  • #3
    By the way, there is a special program for runners older than 50 by coach Parry.

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    • #4
      I see we are sharing so I'll jump in. Today was my 340th consecutive day working out in some form. The magic number of 365 is less than a month away. The first 100 or so days kinda just happened organically and then the "streak" has taken over ever since. Hopefully side effects from dose #2 of the vaccine (scheduled for 10 days before the year mark) doesn't derail me. I know, I know... mix in a rest day. Well... honestly, there's been less than a handful of days where I forced myself to do something when I felt tired in the past year. And when it did come to that I took it easy with what could best be described as active rest.

      Anyway, I'm either walking/hiking off-road in Albany Rural Cemetery for 4+ miles or on the stationary bike for at least 12 miles each day. It took me until 55 years old to not be so competitive with myself and just do something each day without worrying about the results. I have a long history overexerting/ injuring myself in pursuit of some nebulous and usually arbitrary goal so making it this long without destroying myself has been a revelation. Instead I took a year to slowly, steadily, and incrementally make gains. There wasn't any science behind it and I wasn't tracking zones or building workout plans but the results have been pretty good. I have knocked over 3.5 minutes per mile off my walking times from a year ago so there has been a dramatic improvement there. And while I don't go too crazy on the bike I can comfortably spin 18 MPH without having my heart rate exceed 100 BPM and can crunch out 20-21 MPH without breathing heavily. At this point the biggest limiting factor in performance is my aging body rather than my cardio capacity. My legs can't keep up with my heart if that makes any sense. Oh... and I started doing pushups. I have always hated pushups and never did them. I recently decided (forced myself) to do 100+ per day in whatever number of sets it took me to get there. After a few months now my personal best is 57 in a minute and if you believe what you read on the internet (which is never wrong) anything over 30 is considered excellent for my age group so I'm very pleased with my results there. And my doctor will be pleased when he sees I trimmed 10 points off the top and bottom numbers of my BP.

      I'm now in my best cardio shape in about 25 years and I have lost a crapload of weight without actively dieting. I'm sitting just five pounds over the weight I graduated college at when I was a lean, mean, fighting machine; but more importantly I trimmed my body fat down considerably. According to a few on-line sources I'm at the 15th percentile in body fat percentage for my age group now (which is the good end of the spectrum when you're talking about fat). Oddly, I attribute most of the weight loss to the pandemic. It forced me to change my shopping and eating habits and as a result the pounds came flying off. The pandemic dictated no eating out so I consumed no hi-cal/ fatty meals that I typically only eat when visiting restaurants. No booze either as I rarely drink at home alone so no beer or other libations for a year. And I don't buy much snack food anymore either. Pre-Covid I used to go grocery shopping every day or two and would routinely grab some snacks. I didn't realize I ate that many snacks since I didn't have a cupboard full of junk food staring me in the face at home. I'd regularly buy a few small things and eat them in the same day then grab some more the next day. But when the pandemic changed my shopping habits to going to the market every 7-10 days I noticed after the first few shopping trips that my cart had like two dozen snacks piled in it. I looked at it and thought, "Holy crap... I eat that much junk?!" I pared that back immediately and learned to only buy a few snacks a week and then ration them out until my next shopping trip. I was craving the junk for the first few months of this routine but then I made a dietary choice that changed my life - I eliminated all artificial sweeteners. No diet soda, no low-cal drink enhancers, no equal packets, etc. anymore. The incredible transformation that took place was I no longer had cravings for sweets. I had read in the past that consuming too much of the artificial sweeteners actually made you have cravings for real sweets and ultimately cause you to binge on them. I was always skeptical of that claim but I can tell you first hand that it is 100% true. I cut out the artificial sweeteners and all cravings for sweets went away. Put all of these small changes together and the weight melted off without really trying to diet. I ate what I wanted, I never felt like I was depriving myself, and without some goal weight or goal date in mind never felt stressed about having to lose weight. And the bonus has been like 90% of the ankle, knee, hip, and back pain that has nagging at me in recent years is gone. Funny how dropping some lbs will help joint pain. Now I just hope I can keep it up once we are clear of the pandemic.

      So there's my story of the past year. I reached an amazing place physically without ever setting a goal and sorta by accident. The pandemic has sucked in every way imaginable but had one tiny silver lining for me. I almost feel guilty.

      Comment


      • Makwa
        Makwa commented
        Editing a comment
        I drank diet soda to excess. Caffeine free if that matters but the same sweetener. I wasn't a coffee, tea, juice, or other beverage kinda person so I'd easily knock out a 2L container every day. 200mg of sweetener per 12oz = 1g total or approximately 27 packets of Equal (one 1g packet contains 37mg of aspartame). Plus add a few more packets on some cereal or oatmeal or anything else that might need it. And throw in the MIO and other drink enhancers which also use the artificial stuff and I was consuming around 30 packets or more per day. I hadn't ever thought about it before and was disgusted with myself when I sat down and did the math.

        Once I eliminated it the change was instantly noticeable. No more constant search for something sweet to shove in my face. I honestly never realized how insidious the diet soda was. I just thought I was a stress eater or a boredom eater but I've found out I am neither of those. I've been more stressed and bored in the past year than any year ever and I'm not eating to fill some psychological hole. It was the damn artificial sweetener all along. The only drawback was my stomach took a few weeks to adjust. The whole biome down there churned and gurgled for that whole time but I'd call those side effects rather minor given the beneficial outcome once I adjusted.

        Interesting article on how the artificial sweeteners affect your stomach bacteria... https://nypost.com/2018/10/02/artifi...-gut-bacteria/

        And one on artificial sweeteners and increased appetite/cravings... https://www.healthline.com/nutrition...-gain#appetite
        Last edited by Makwa; 04-08-2021, 10:37 AM.

      • FlyFishingandBeer
        FlyFishingandBeer commented
        Editing a comment
        Oh wow. You weren't kidding. That habit must have been a B to kick, with your body being so used to it.

        I don't feel so bad about my fewer than a 6-pack per week Coke Zero habit now, but I appreciate all of that information and this is definitely something I'll be monitoring moving forward.

        I like your 100 push-ups per day goal. Push-ups are an extremely underrated exercise that not only does wonders for the chest, triceps, and shoulders, but also strengthens the core and lumbar area as well. I may have to follow suit there, on my non-weight training days.

      • Makwa
        Makwa commented
        Editing a comment
        Surprisingly easy to kick. No withdrawal symptoms at all. Caffeine was the killer back about 20 years ago when I eliminated that. That took a month of slowly weaning to get down to zero without having crushing headaches every morning.

        Pushups have my abs and core screaming more than arms and chest. Definitely a worthwhile exercise. 100+ per day is actually rather easy... less than 5 min out of your day. And once you are able to do more each set you then have to do fewer sets to finish. I usually do the first set of the day to exhaustion then the rest are fewer reps to a point where I feel comfortable and not killing myself. Not sure if it's the right way to do it but it's working.

        I need to mix the weight training back in. I used my back and joint pain as an excuse not to lift for the last 5 years or so. And I rationalized that if I was gonna tear down my body lifting something it was gonna be a backpack hiking up a mountain. Now with less joint pain maybe I'll get back to some low weight/ high rep workouts or maybe some resistance bands.

    • #5
      Originally posted by Makwa View Post
      My legs can't keep up with my heart if that makes any sense.
      No it doesn't.
      It only means that you need to add strength training (like step ups) to your routine as recommended by Neil and Coach Parry.
      Last edited by Yury; 04-16-2021, 02:30 PM.

      Comment


      • Makwa
        Makwa commented
        Editing a comment
        Thanks Yury ... my query was more of a wise-a$$ rhetorical question. I apologize. I was just trying to point out that leg strength or muscle endurance was not necessarily my issue. It's more like what Bunchberry just noted above... "After a while you can not walk any faster." I'm already near the edge of what I'm physically capable of. There will be diminishing returns moving forward in trying to go much faster. I can't lose much more weight, I can't improve much more aerobically without major changes in training, and I have no intention of killing myself trying to reach some crazy goal. I could start running again but I really hate the way it slams my joints and how it leaves me feeling. That is just a recipe for repetitive use injuries that keep me from enjoying hiking. I'm in a good place right now and hoping to get back north soon after I get my 2nd dose of the vaccine. Thanks for commenting though. You did get me thinking about what I actually want to accomplish and where I can tweak what I'm doing.

      • Neil
        Neil commented
        Editing a comment
        I'm right here!
        Strength training AFAIC serves two purposes for my hiking.
        Injury prevention and, as explained in Training for the New Alpinism, increased aerobic capacity/endurance. I mix in a fair bit of core, balance and flexibility work while I'm at it because, like vegetables, I believe it's good for me.

        You should be careful with the ab work though due to the compression all ab work imposes on the spine. (The things I see these kids doing to get that 6-pack!) Also, I rarely see anyone work the low back muscles, which IMO are extremely important for stabilizing one's low back. Chronic low back pain is very common.

        I'm just starting week 3 of a 12 week training cycle for an upcoming expedition here in Quebec but because the gyms are closed I'm not doing any strength work. I just can't get motivated to do it at home.

      • Bunchberry
        Bunchberry commented
        Editing a comment
        What about kettlebell swings for the lower back?

    • #6
      A MAF training update. With my pack at about 19 pounds, walking around the flatness that is Ushers Road Park had become pretty easy. For the most part I was cruising around and only occasionally hitting zone 3.

      So with my second covid shot in arm, I was ready for Kinns Park. Kinns has a lot more people and dogs that like to run up to you and dog owners that allow their dogs to do that.

      Kinns actually has small hills. If you see a guy with an orange and brown pack slowly going up a hill in Kinns park say hello. The weird thing is because I have to walk so slowly up the hills, my legs (mostly my upper thighs) were killing me the next day. The first workout of 2 hours I just walked around trying the trails. The second workout came to 1 3/4 hours I settled into a 35 minute loop that included the red trail and hilly section of the original trails.

      The plan is for my body to somehow adapt and be able to go over the hills keeping my heart rate below 121 beats at a faster pace.

      The next workout I will put on alltrails to get a more accurate mileage and elevation.
      Leave No Trace! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jXO1uY0MvmQ
      ThereAndBack http://www.hikesafe.com/

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