Not doing MAF

About this time last year I started to experiment with the maffetone method. That is running to a heartrate of (180 – age) and eating a diet with low carbs and low refined foods. The diet also emphasises a low stress lifestyle which is somewhat harder to achieve.

I found that I lost 10lb in weight and 4% body fat, and I was able to run fairly consistently through the year, averaging a mile a day.

Over the last couple of months though it’s all gone awry.

I blame my sons birthday and the quest to make the perfect ginger cake. In the month of March I made about 4 or 5 ginger cakes trying to get it just right and probably ate most of them. Since then the floodgates have opened and I have eaten quite a bit of cake and bread. Not huge amounts, but sometimes having a bagel for breakfast, pasta for dinner or a piece of cake when out for coffee with friends. And I have piled the weight back on, 5lb in 2 months.

Now that I’m back on the carbs, I’m finding it hard to drop them again.

I also had a dip in the running, but I’m picking that up again now. Ive stopped looking at my HRM and started just running as I feel.

I ‘m enjoying the running more.

I don’t think that my running improved with MAF. I used to run at a 12min/mile pace, not fast by any account, but with MAF to keep my HR down it was about 15-16mins per mile. I suspect that I really needed to do more miles to get the benefit and run faster at that HR but although I tried, I struggled to fit in more than 4hrs per week.

Now I’m back to running by feel, I can’t do a 12min mile, not even downhill!  Maffetone says that running at tempo, which is what most people do naturally left to run to feel, releases cortisol and gives you carbohydrate cravings as you aren’t fat burning when you run.

So what to do now?

So far I’m enjoying my early morning runs. It does seem to be the best way to fit it into the day, and just 30minutes every morning has doubled my weekly mileage.

Can I and will I run off the weight gain? I know, because I read a lot that the evidence suggests running alone will not help to lose weight, it has to be combined with diet.


See the willow tree in the foreground? Almost completely up rooted but new growth on the branches!

Will the low carb diet work along side running to feel? will the running make me hungry, craving carbs, or will the low carb diet mean that I don’t have the energy/ motivation to run?

one way to find out is to give it a try. So for this week only, low carb, run to feel, 30 minutes every morning.

FYI my version of low carb includes lots of veggies, except potatoes, so it isn’t an unhealthy ‘packed with saturated fats and meat’ diet. Though I do get through a lot of cheese and Greek yoghurt!


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 balance, change, fitness, habits, healthy diet, heartrate, low intensity, maffetone methid, middle aged women, Motivation, Nutrition, running, slow run, Stress, time management, training plan, weight loss, work life balence, working mum. Bookmark the permalink.

16 Responses to Not doing MAF

  1. Gareth says:

    Don’t overthink? You mentioned less stress but seems like you’re stressing over both diet and running pace! What works for me if I wanna lose weight is just dropping as much processed food as possible. Cut sugars and graze rather than eat meals. I have bags of organic veg like carrots which I constantly grab as I go past. Skip big meals entirely and just eat little and often when I get hungry. I always have a dozen or so hardboiled eggs in fridge to just snack on. But really it’s just cutting out crap. To my mind there are so many conflicting diets and reports it’s all just a way to sell books as people try a plan, works for a while but is unsustainable and then into next plan. Go with whatever your body feels like. As for running to pace just run to enjoy and pace will come I reckon. Ummm sorry for long reply lol just my thoughts

    • mawil1 says:

      Wow Gareth I’ve never seen you write so much! All very wise and sensible. But honestly I don’t over think, I just like to reflect and analyse😋 I will take up your tip of having a stash of hard boiled eggs in the fridge though. 😁

  2. I can’t live without carbs … for me the devil was in the milk and other animal products. You will figure out what works for you too! MAF means for me running at an easy and comfy pace. He based it of Lydiard. Btw … while I am not running as much lately I still haven’t gained any weight and pigged out on vegan ice cream. So whatever the right way to eat and run is for you, it will make you happy and energize you as well as satisfy any cravings imho. I haven’t counted any calories for over a year or felt like I denied myself anything.

    • mawil1 says:

      I’ve been stable for ages, just the last month something has happened and the little ‘ups’ in weight haven’t been followed by the little ‘downs’. It isnt the end of the world, just something I want to nip in the bud. (I love my cliche’s😆😆)

  3. Yeah…life without carbs…not good!! Why suffer? 😊 enjoy the run, eat good and real food what more is there? Lol

  4. Shaz says:

    I believe, we are all different, everyone has a diet that works for them you just need to work out what it is, I for one could never give up carbs, I struggle to cut them down even, but if I didn’t eat them I would not eat enough calories a day. I think the MAF method works, but my fear is that it takes the enjoyment out of just getting out there running. Well done on your morning runs, so glad it is working for you. Good luck this week

    • mawil1 says:

      Thanks for the good wishes! Yes we are all different,and there are genes that are responsible for those differences. Even in sport and fitness! But I’m going to focus on the running for summer😊

  5. CeeJayKay says:

    You gotta do what works for you… you will find your thAng! x

  6. We’re all an experiment of one. Because I don’t have a HRM, I was unable to get on the HR training train; maybe that’s a good thing!

    I know people who are fat adapted and it really seems to work for them.

    I find I do okay with more carbs on running days, fewer on days I’m not running (even though I am also active in some way on those days, too).

    I can tell you for sure that while exercise is so important, on many levels, that the key really is diet. I rarely eat a bagel. For me, that’s a treat and usually only after a lot of miles. It’s like eating 6 pieces of bread (I keep trying to convince my husband of that, he is on the see food diet — or really this is what I want & this is what I’m going to eat, even though I’m overweight and out of shape).

    I do, however, eat potatoes. And sweet potatoes. And brown rice, and oats, and legumes, and bananas . . .

    And strength training is so important, too. It will make you a better runner and it will give your life more quality, too.

    The problem, as always, is how to fit that in!

    • Darlene says:

      one slice of bread with 2 tbs of peanut butter is about 260 calories (70 + 190). I eat one bagel plain each day and it is only 260 calories. Obviously if you add cream cheese and other stuff it is more. I like mine plain.

      • It depends on the bagel. Some (many) are HUGE & definitely way more than 260 calories.

        Cream cheese has less calories than PB but also less nutritional value, but when I do have a bagel, I do like it with cream cheese & lox. So it’s a very occasional treat for me.

      • Darlene says:

        true. I love my bagel a day and I eat Thomas. Love a NYC bagel with cream cheese and lox but as you said, it’s a treat!!

  7. Darlene says:

    My Apple watch takes my heart rate but I don’t pay attention. I need my carbs for my sanity and for running. I am sluggish if I don’t eat them.

    I just don’t eat junk food for snacks – eat fruit inside in the evening. Desserts such as pie or ice cream is usually a reward for a hard long run.

    Everyone is different. You have to do what makes you happy.

  8. Running to feel sounds good to me with perhaps just a few ‘big finishes’. That is making the last 1kmish count. I eat low carb and don’t find it too difficult although I will eat a toasted muffin before a long run.

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