Is anyone here familiar with the work of Phil Maffetone? If so, have you adopted any of his principles and, more importantly, have they worked for you?


  • I'm not familiar as far as I know - what does he advise? Any websites? I'm always interested to hear about new ideas.
  • Ive heard of him
    But not in detail

    he helped that ultrarunner, Stu Mittelman
  • The website can be found at
    Follow the link to Maffetone Report where you'll find loads of info.

    Basically from what I understand, Maffetone argues that in order for any of us to become better athletes or simply to stay healthy and fit, we must exercise aerobically rather than anaerobically. Before we can introduce any anaerobic activity into our exercise routines we must first spend months building our "aerobic base".
    To determine whether we are exercising aerobically or not Maffetone uses the 180 formula:
    1.Subtract your age from 180
    2.Modify this number by selecting one of the following categories:
    a)If you are recovering from a major illness or if on medication...subtract 10.
    b)If you haven't exercised before, are recovering from injury, or get lots of colds or flu...subtract 5.
    c)If you have been exercising for more than 2 years without probs, while making progress in competition, without injury...add 5.
    This formula gives you your maximum aerobic rate. Subtract 10 from this number to give you an aerobic zone to work within e.g max aerobic rate 140 - 10 = 130, therefore exercise zone would be 130-140.

    Maffetone also recommends eating less carbs and increasing the protein and fat in the diet.

    What do you think?
  • 130-140 what, B? Is that bpm?
  • That seems quite a low heart rate. Mine goes above that just watching Casualty!

  • Hi B

    This is pretty much the same reccomendation as is made in the book "Heart Monitor Training for the Complete Idiot" by John L Parker.

    Aslo Check out the articles at this link which I cam accross while surfing the RW US forums a while back.

    Another good source of information is
    web site.

    It appears that a lot of people who start off running get hung up on speed at too early a stage, way before the body is ready which inevitably leeds to injury and to a lot of people getting disheartened and giving up. I am one who started off like this.

    It takes time and patience to train your self to run at such a slow heart rate, when your heart rate goes above your target you have to walk till it goes back down and this feels like you are cheating. But if you perservere for about a month or two you soon should be able to keep running at the lower heart rate.

    You also find that you start to run faster at lower heart rates. This can be seen by timing your run when you start training at your low heart rate and again when you can complete you run without walking while your heart rate stays low and periodically after that. You should find that you complete the same distance quicker and at a lower HR.

    When I started running I use to run around 3.5 miles in 50 minutes with a heart rate in the mid 160's. Thats around 15 min/miles. I can now run my 13 mile long runs with a HR of around 136 at start drifting to around 142-145 at the end. I can run 7.8 miles at a HR of 155-160 in around 54:20 which is under 7 min/miles.

    I attribute this to reading John Parkers book and following the princible he outlines. I took advantage of the dark nights to force my self to run at a slower HR. I also wore a normal tracksuit instead of my running tights etc so I did not feel too conscious when I had to walk to slow my HR down :)

    I now run 4/5 times a week and my long run is 13 miles the rest are between 6.5 and 10 miles. With the exception of my one speed session I try and do all other runs at a HR of under 142. Even now it if I don't monitor it I will find my HR creeping up and my run will become a speed session :)

    Just my 2 cents work
  • Hi Michael

    Yup, you're doing what I'm attempting to achieve over the next few months. I've only started "running" this week and haven't used the heart rate monitor yet but shall try tomorrow. Very worried that I'll have to move at a snails pace to keep bpm in check which may be a problem as I'm following a run/walk beginners schedule and don't want to spend more time walking than I should.
    I shall persevere.
    Thanks for the extra info.
  • Michael

    Ran this morning for the first time with my heart rate monitor (3rd run ever). According to the Maffetone formula my max heart rate is 139bpm - I don't think my heart rate was any lower than 165 during any of my runs! I'm following the 6 week beginners schedule so at the moment I should run for 90 secs, walk for 90 secs for 24 mins.

    Any advice on how to follow this schedule whilst adhering to Maffetone principles? I really want to follow the schedule AND build up my "aerobic base". From your experience, do you think this is possible?

    One frustrated B!
  • Hi B

    I am not familiar with maffetone, I will have to have a look at his web site, but judging by your first mail his "180 formula" is not something I have ever seen before.

    The two methods of calculating you max HR that I have come accross are

    1. 220 - age for men

    2. 214-(0.8 x age) for men

    I used the first formula and remember this is only an approximation and can be out by as much as 10/15 bpm either way.

    At 40 yrs I guessed my approx max HR was 180 and therefore 70% of this was 126 and 75% of this was 135. I found it really hard to run and keep my HR at this rate and spent most of my time walking :( I would do two of my runs a week like this and the other two I would not look at the HRM at all and just run how I felt. This kept me sain :)

    I have since run two races and have seen my HR at 187 so I reckon my max HR is around 190 but I still try and keep my hr around 136 or so on my slow runs.

    This did take quite a while to get use to and was very frustrating as I seemed to spend more time walking than running for the first few weeks. But it did eventually get better.

    As I said in my first mail I still have to keep an eye on my HRM when I do my slow runs or it can easily end up turning into a speed session.

    Another point I had been running about two maybe three months before I stumbled upon this method of training. As Wed was only your third run ever you might find it a little harder than I did to keep your HR low.

    I am not sure of your reasons for running or your goals or your reason for picking the maffetone way but try and run really slowly to keep your heart rate down and as soon as it goes over your target walk until it drops down again and then run again. Although having a race as a target is a good goal give yourself a reasonable amount of time to build up you fitness and don't be tempted to tie your self into times for races yet. Pick fun runs if you feel the need and just aim to finish.

    I am thinking that you are 36 yrs as suggested by a 139 max HR on the maffetone
    180 - 36 = 44 -5 for beginner = 139.

    On formula 1 above 220 - 36 = 184 X .70 and .75 (for aerobic training zone) gives you a target of around 129 - 138 which is pretty much the same as maffetone.

    Remember running is supposed to be fun. Enjoy your running and reap the fitness benifits. Schedules are only pointers and are not cast in stone so don't get too hung up on them.

    Good luck and keep us informed of your progress. Also ask any questions you have there is a wealth of information, inspiration to be picked up from the fourmites.

  • Hi Michael
    36???? I'm a young whippersnapper of 31, thank you very much! 180-31=149 plus a subtraction of 10 (had a kidney transplant 9 months ago and on meds)= 139, therefore training zone = 129-139.

    I think I'll do similar to yourself and "run" three times a week without concerning myself too much about heart rate and only wear monitor when I cycle and take my long walks (try and complete 6/7 mile walks couple of times a week) on the other four days.

    As for my reasons and running goals - started running to improve my general fitness and I have the goal of running in the Glasgow 10K in September to raise money for kidney research (1st anniversary of transplant).

    Perhaps I'm putting myself under a bit of pressure but I'm hoping that by September I will have improved to the extent that I'll be able to run most of the 10K and walk a little. Time will tell, of course!

    Thanks for advice, Michael and keep posting - I enjoy your messages (they're huuuge!).

  • Hi Michael...and everyone else

    I'm really confused now, I don't understand all this heart rate business at all (must get a book)

    Is your formula the same for women??

    I started running before christmas and am real proud of myself cos i'm up to 10 miles on my longest run now but i've never even thought about what my heart rate is doing...Is this really significant. I think i'd struggle to slow down now cos i'd feel like i wasn't achieving anything. I tried to keep within heart rate limits on the cross trainer at the gym and it was so slow i was hardly moving at all. to look it've got me thinking :-)
  • Hi Glen

    Sorry another log post :(

    Part I.

    The formula for women I think is

    1. 215 - age

    2. 209-(0.9 x age)

    Excellent going, running 10 milers on your LSD's within your first 5 months. Keep up the good work.

    I'm no expert, only been running for 10 months now but what I will say is that I have managed to lose weight, get into pretty good shape and can run 35 miles per week (13 mile long run) in that time.

    When I started running it was to help with weight loss and I ran Mon to Fri each week for around 50 minutes. Managed to cover about 3.5 miles each time but I was totally shattered after each run. Gasping for breath, heart thumping in my chest etc and although I was losing some weight I ended up with a piriformis injury within 7 weeks.

    Physio advised running slower and only every second day to improve and avoid injury. So I started researching running training on the web and came across this site and the US site and stumbled onto some info on training with a HRM. The information made sense and I decided to get one and try it out. I also bought a copy of "Heart Monitor Trainig For The Complete Idiot" by John Parker as a lot of the peeps on these forums spoke positively about it.

    The book I thought was very good and I followed the advice and reckon it has made a significant contribution to my running.

  • Part II

    Running to a low heart rate at first is VERY frustrating. My target was 143 and normally when I would run I would have trouble keeping my HR below 160. However I gave it a go and ran very very slowly. When my HR would hit 143 I would walk until it dropped to low 130's and start running again.

    I walked more than I ran at first. I decided to give it a month and by the end of that month I found that I could keep running keeping my HR just below the 143 threshold. It did mean constantly looking at the HRM which understandably gets on some peoples wick, but I was no longer gasping for breath and my heart was no longer thumping in my chest when I finished my runs. I was running 5 times a week so three of my runs would be run trying to keep my HR low and the other two I would run as I liked. As I said in a previous post, this kept me sain.

    I will say that I had the benifit of cooler weather which made it a little easier to keep my HR low and I find it more difficult now in the warmer weather. Also the dark nights helped with my embarresement at having to keep stopping and walking. Although there were not many people around I felt that people would be sneering at the muppet who would kept running and then stopping to walk. Not one person ever passed a remark but it didn't stop me thinking about it.

    I have been pretty much injury free (touch wood) for the past 8 months. Have suffered achy knees due to upping my milage from 25 mpw up to 40 mpw in one jump over last Christmas running on pavements, as the park where I do most of my running in was water logged. I just took a couple of days off and dropped my mileage back down an this thankfully cleared it up.

    I now have my milage back up to around 35 mpw. I run 4 times a week, I use a stationary bike on the days I don't run and have a set of weights which I use 4 times a week, 2 x upper body and 2 x lower body. I have one day a week completely off. I do 1 long run (13 miles low HR) , 1 threshold (7/8 miles), 1 run of 10 miles (Low HR) and 1 run of 5/6 miles which I decide on the night what pace I will run at.

    I have found that using the HRM I have become quite good at judging my pace. I have a loop of the park I run in measured at 1.3 miles and I know by the reading on my HRM to within a couple of seconds what pace I am running at. This has helped in the two races I have run in so far. The first a 4 miler I finished in 29:11. I was hoping for under 40 minutes. But I was at half way in under 15 minutes and feeling good so I went for it. This averaged out at 7:18 min/miles. My second race was a 10K which I hoped to beat 45 min for. My plan was to try and run 7:30 pace over the distance which I managed, but at 4 miles again I was feeling good and ahead of schedule so I managed to up the pace slightly and finish in 43:17 which gave me an average pace of 6:59 min/miles. I was chuffed with this.

    I would therefore endorse the advice on building a good base by doing a lot of aerobic running before introducing speed work, especially for beginners. I would say that at least the first 6/8 months should be run mostly at their aerobic level before they start speed training and entering races where they are aiming for times.

    Just my thoughts and opinions, as I said at the start I am no expert, just another opinionated newbie :)

    Happy running,

  • B
    if youre a transplant patient, you will check wiuth the dietitian before messing with your diet, wont you
  • Hi Plodding Hippo
    Do you think there is anything in particular I should be watching? Haven't really considered this till niw, tho' I haven't made any drastic changes so far.
    Have you experience of this?

  • Michael

    You've surpassed yourself - a two parter!
    Great to read how you coped with it all tho'. Gives me hope.

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