MAF 3 months in.

The first amazing thing about the MAF method is that I’m still sticking with it, 3 months in. ( The green bars are a MAF session) Anyone who has been following my blog for any length of time ( thank you, you crazy people!) will know that consistency has not been my strong point. I download a training plan or whatever and before long I haven’t been able to keep it up, I’m behind plan and my goals accelerate into the distance and over the horizon without me.

So why is MAF different and how is this succeeding where other plans have failed? I suppose the simple answer is because I’m achieving what I wanted to achieve and it doesn’t cause me pain! It sounds too good to be true, but I think that finally I have tapped into something that works for me.


So what did I want to achieve? I wanted to be slimmer, fitter and feel good. Ultimately I would like to be able to run in events and enjoy them. So why did I think that running could do this for me? Because initially it did: when I first started doing couch to 5k , I dropped a few pounds, I felt more comfortable in my own body, my heart didn’t sink at the prospect of a single flight of stairs and I felt happy because I was achieving something new. Running a 5k was a massive achievement. Not long after that I ran a half marathon. It was a great achievement but I didn’t feel the same surprise and achievement as I did when I reached 5k!

Then something went wrong. I hit a plateaux. I kept trying to run more, but I wasn’t getting faster and I’d stopped losing weight. I tried to lose weight by calorie counting, trying to get a balance of 1200 per day but it didn’t seem to work, I was often hungry and I ate more than I used up through exercise. I tried ‘strength training’ but never lasted than more than a couple of weeks with the exercise regimes. I tried running plans with fast runs and long slow ones. It became a chore to try to fit in a run, tired before I started, depressed and disappointed if I missed out runs from my plan. I set a goal of running a marathon, but despite desperately trying to keep up with the training plan it all got too much and ย without realising it I gave up, exhausted.


What made me start MAF? I started with the diet. I’d already given up sugar 6months earlier and had felt the benefit of not constantly craving a sugary fix, however in March I lapsed and had a complete chocolate biscuit/cake fest. I gained 4lb in 2 weeks. Somewhere in my internet browsing/reading I’d read about the maffetone method and decided to do the ‘2 week test’. He calls it a test because the aim is to see how intolerant of carbohydrates you might be. I’m not into fad diets, I’ve never understood people who go along the ‘no wheat , no dairy route’ as seems to be popular with ‘celebrity ‘ types. however maffetone was proposing no processed food, which I do understand, so I dropped flour products like bread and pasta along with the sugary stuff. ย I didn’t lose a lot of weight, like some people report, just a couple of pounds but I wasn’t hungry and I felt OK so I decided to continue with this lower carb diet. For the first time in years I indulged in full fat (plain) yoghurt, butter and cheese, along with meat, fish and a lot of veggies. I actually felt good on it, and stopped getting reflux and other digestive irritations. Oh and not hungry. If I’m hungry I eat something! No restriction on volume of food, it just has to be high quality nutrition!


Then it was time to get back into the running. As I hadn’t run at all for 3 months I thought that it would be better to go right back to the beginning, with no expectations. So as I wasn’t planning/expecting to run fast or far it seemed appropriate to do it the MAF way, using my aerobic HR threshold and building an aerobic base. At first it was a shock to find that I couldn’t really run at my aerobic threshold, there was a lot of walking involved!! But if that’s what it takes, that’s what we do.!! Also it was a bit frustrating, I didn’t make the same rapid improvement that I did when I first started running ( using the keep going until you can’t breathe any more method!).

The good side however, I was enjoying it. Now that I had ‘permission’ to walk I refused to let myself run above my HR, ignoring what onlookers might be thinking. When it doesn’t hurt you can enjoy the scenery more, appreciate what’s going on around you. It’s possible to walk/run for an hour or more and arrive back home feeling perfectly fine thank you, no need to collapse on to the sofa, Hoover the contents of the fridge and so on. And the next day you feel fine, you can do it agian. No procrastination as body and brain gird themselves up for the effort of ‘push push push’ to keep going mentally and physically. Without the procrastination it becomes possible to think, ‘oh I’ve got half an hour , I’ll just nip out for a run’. And before you know it, well actually about 2months later, a new lifestyle is born.

i was determined to stick to this for 3 months and I have a week to go. During that time my average pace for run/walking has gone from 17 minutes something to 15 minutes something, which suggests that I’m getting a bit more running into the run/walk. I have lost 6lb in weight and my BMI is 25.4 so almost into ‘normal ‘ range. And finally my body fat % has shifted a bit too, reluctantly dropping a percentage point.

So what next? Like a lot of people doing MAF (there’s a Facebook group) part of me misses the pushing myself/testing run. So I have decided to celebrate the end of my 3 month induction with a Parkrun! Maybe next week, maybe the week after. Obviously part of me wants to get a PB! I set my PB ย in May 2014. Given that I haven’t run 5k without a walk for some considerable time I am giving myself a talking to about not raising my expectations!

For today though, my plan was to take a walk/run up the hill next door. When I got up we were shrouded in mist, and I thought that this might not be a good idea as I don’t yet know where the paths are! However it is clearing now so it should be safe. Maybe pictures tomorrow!



About mawil1

Hi my name is julie and I took up running at the age of 46! Hence 'mawil' Middle Aged Woman In Lycra. I did it at first because someone asked me to do a charity run with them. I couldn't run at all, but pride wouldn't let me be seen to be unable to run so I started a walk run programme. I stuck with it and to my surprise I found that I liked it- after a couple of weeks of progress I was hooked! My blog is about my progress in running and how I fit it in with the rest of my life.
This entry was posted in fitness, fun, habits, healthy diet, heartrate, Inspiration, low intensity, maffetone methid, middle aged women, Motivation, Nutrition, parkrun, positive mental attitude, running, slow run, stats geek, time management, training plan, walking, weight loss, work life balence, working mum. Bookmark the permalink.

15 Responses to MAF 3 months in.

  1. oscardiamond says:

    Very good indeed! Remember speed is a false god. I can hear the temptation you feel to hope for a parkrun PB. Why not walk/run it as you have been doing in your seesions? You are already winning with your kinder, much less stressed approach.

    • mawil1 says:

      It’s not all about a PB. It’s about just running freely without stopping because my HR monitor is telling me it’s too high even though I feel fine. I know that I can’t run like that all the time it wouldn’t be healthy but maybe once every 2or 3 weeks just for fun!

  2. shazruns says:

    I am impressed with your progress and commitment. Have a lovely Parkrun, leave all tech at home and run to how you feel and enjoy!

    • mawil1 says:

      Leaving the tech at home might be a good idea – take the stress and pressure off during the run and get my result by email later! Cool๐Ÿ˜€

  3. CeeJayKay says:

    what about running your first one at MAF to give you an idea of how MAF has changed or will change things?
    Making it a way of life is lovely achievement… well done J!!!! enjoy enjoy x

  4. Oh that’s wonderful Julie! Congratulations on sticking with it! I know it was a struggle for you to run at the beginning of the year, but when you make it enjoyable, it doesn’t have to be such a struggle! Keep up the amazing work and positive attitude!! ๐Ÿ˜€

  5. Brilliant post ๐Ÿ™‚ I think after 3 months you deserve some fun! As in Matt Fitzgerald’s book 80/20, declare parkrun to be your 20% speed ๐Ÿ™‚ it’s what science says! I’d take the tech, just to collect the data though, but ignore it.

    • mawil1 says:

      ThAnk you! I don’t think that I would have stuck with it without the encouragement of you and cee jay! It’s quite hard to keep it slow when you know that you could do more. Will I be able to take the tech and ignore it? It would be interesting to have the HR data but I’d need to turn the alarms off. It’s a 3 lap course so I don’t think that I’ll be able to resist looking at my time at the end of every lap! I need to read 80/20 running again. I see what you mean – If I run 4 slow runs during the week Parkrun could be my ‘fast’ run. I will see how it goes on Saturday!!!!

      • Switch the watch to metric before the race and the numbers won’t make sense? ๐Ÿ˜‚ Happened to me the other way around. Just to relax and have finally fun without restrictions will distract you maybe enough? The data will be useful later once you done more parkruns. But then I am a data geek ๐Ÿ™‚

      • mawil1 says:

        ๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜†๐Ÿ˜† I love the data too! It kept me going in the early days, showing me how much I’d improved ! Maybe I will just cover my watch with a sweatband๐Ÿ˜Š

      • That sounds perfect!

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