Running slowly to run faster

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18/06/2009 at 15:39

Having just completed my first marathon (very slowly) I've decided to use the next 3 - 4 months for aerobic base training, training at a low heart rate, and (hopefully) being able to increase the pace I can run at that heart rate.

So far it's tough!  I'm following the 180 rule (can't remember the exact title of the article) so HR of 155bpm.  On Monday I ran 5 miles at this HR and my pace was 10.54 m/m.  Yesterday I ran 6 miles at same HR and pace was  1130 mm!!

This just seems SO SLOW.  I was running all my LSRs in marathon training at about 10:15, never out of breath.

Have you used this method?  How did you find it and how did your race times improve?

18/06/2009 at 15:52
Hi Beanie, I've tried the %HR method for a while and like you found it a little slow in the pace. It would appear that you can run for longer whilst monitoring your heart rate at a specified level but the pace is slow.......
But when I set my heart rate slightly higher after following a method to calculate my max HR it worked out better and faster (slightly). I also found when running on a 10 miler one sunday that I finished it quicker that going by pace. So it does work, just keep at it for a while longer.
18/06/2009 at 16:10

i do a lot more miles than that, but at a slightly lower HR.   in fact all my runs are now 30-40 miles (i only do 3 a week!).  they started off all being around 18-25 miles, after a 6 month complete break from running.

when I restarted, it took about 3 weeks to get my marathon pace down from around 12 min/miles to around 9 min/miles, then another 10 weeks to reduce it from 9 min/miles to around 7 min/miles.  It's still going down, but there's a lot of diminishing returns applying now - I'm lucky if I knock 10 secs/mile off my pace at any given heart rate from week to week. 

so short answer: yes it works, if you're prepared to put the time in

18/06/2009 at 16:37

My sub 70% working heart rate pace was 10:30 min/mile in february .... by the end of March it was under 9 min/mile and I smashed my 10K PB by over 3 minutes. It works but it can be frustrating at the start.

18/06/2009 at 16:37


Sorry I'm a bit confused.  You do 3 runs per week of 30 to 40 miles?! n Or weekly mileage of 30 - 40 miles, from 3 runs?

18/06/2009 at 16:38

Dr Dan

Was hoping you'd pop up again, after seeing your post on the other thread!  How many miles per week do you run, and how many runs?

18/06/2009 at 16:42

Beanie, have you measured your max HR or is the 155 figure from an article?

According to calculations my max HR should be 175 or there abouts, measuring during exercise I've recorded 193, a fair difference. As HR zones are calculated as a percentage of either working or max HR  you might not be running at the best HR figure for yourself.

How are you measuring your heart rate when you run? Are you taking a spot reading or an averaged reading over an interval (either mile or time)?

LSRs are meant to be slow, the body carries out its adaptions better at a slower speed than if you ran the long runs at max pace. It might take between three and six weeks to see improvements so keep with it.

I did a marathon earlier this year and am now following a similiar strategy for another attempt in September. I've ditched a lot of my faster running and replaced it with slower running to heart rate and have been able to increase mileage done in each week as not having to recover from so many hard sessions. Leg muscles are developing nicely and I generally run one temp run each week the speed of which is improving.

Results will come if you stick with it.

Cross post with others.

Edited: 18/06/2009 at 16:43
18/06/2009 at 16:42
the first one - sort of around 100 miles a week total.  occasionally i get 4 runs in, for around 130 miles a week.  "occasionally" including this week and next week, hopefully, as i have to wind down after that for a race..!
18/06/2009 at 17:05

I think my max HR is 203 (recorded at the end of a 10k race), when I really felt I was about to drop!!

The HRs recorded on my runs are average, according to my Garmin.

So to work out my working heart rate I subtract mt resting HR from my Max HR, is that correct?  Then for the purposes of this type of training, what percentage of that WHR should I be training at?


18/06/2009 at 17:12

Using the 70% of WHR formula I should be training at 154 bpm, so pretty much spot on!

18/06/2009 at 17:28
You'll know it's working when you can knock out 20 miles and keep the same HR throughout, it really does work but you have to give it plenty of time and plenty of long long slow runs. I did HR training for my first marathon and now, post marathon my 70% WHR is about 11 mins/mile, whereas starting mara training it was 11:50 ish (but I'm old and overweight so I doubt I'll see massive/quick changes). Good luck.
18/06/2009 at 17:45
Is this article you`re all talking about ?
18/06/2009 at 18:28
No not that one, it was quite a short article. 
18/06/2009 at 19:29

That other article is quite good, but I think this is what you're talking about... 

Despite Dr. Maffetone's proven record, most people on this forum don't know or don't care about his work.  Mention the '180 formula' and straight away you'll get responses talking about the flawed 220 formula, WHR percentage zones and the need to do a max HR test.

I keep trying, but sometimes I feel like I'm banging my head against a brick wall...

18/06/2009 at 19:33
Yup that's the one.  I've worked out my percentage of WHR and it's one beat lower than the 180 formula.  So going to see how it goes!
18/06/2009 at 19:47

Like Icemaiden says, you have to give it plenty of time.  This is the wisdom that rescued me from overtraining hell.  During the year after I discovered Maffetone, I set PBs for 5 miles, 10k, 10 miles, half and full marathon.

Unfortunately booze & stupid injuries set me back after that  but I'm coming back now, albeit slowly - but is there any other way?

18/06/2009 at 19:53

Cheers for posting that Chocolate Moose,

Im in the base period at the moment, but never really considered that some of the anaerobic work I have been doing on my bike could be detrimental to my running. I might take some of the steeper climbs out of my routes for the remainder of the base period!

On the positive side, the Maffetone calculation is exactly the bpm I have been using as a limit for my easy/long runs. Definitely more luck than judgement though.

18/06/2009 at 20:08
I have been using the 180 formula for the past 5 weeks and have knocked off over a minute per mile.It definately does work
18/06/2009 at 21:19
I`m familiar with Dr Maffetone`s article. For all you base trainers out there, have a look at the Hadd article (link above). He clearly draws on Maffetone but he offers a practical approach to base training (based on heart rates).
18/06/2009 at 21:39
Yes, I think the Hadd article definitely merits some attention...
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