HADD's approach for beginners

Hi everyone,

I started running back in November (C25K) and built up to a 44-min 10K earlier this month. I'm now injured (lol), I expect due to building up quicker than my muscles/joints were ready for.

I'm taking a couple of weeks off running until my injury heals, but I want to avoid repeating the same mistakes when I get back on the road...

I've read various bits and pieces on the HADD's approach, but was wondering if someone could maybe break it down for me a little? What's the best way for me to approach this, as a relative beginner (I was only running about 15-20 miles a week before)?

Also, is it reasonable to use the generic formula for max HR (i.e. 200-age) to start off with? Bit worried about injuring myself again if I try to do the proper max HR test - sounds brutal!

Thanks in advance


    NWCB - I just mentioned Hadd in response to your post on the other thread re max test.

    Read the whole Hadd document, have you got a copy?   Then go to the last 2 pages and it will say 'if your HR is xxx read the above and use the following numbers'

    document here


    We used to have a massive Hadd following a few years ago on RW.   What most of us did was to start running say one hour a day at easy running pace, maybe 2 hours once a week for those that want to go longer.   Build up the mileage gradually and your pace at that HR will improve, extreme patience is required.   Then when you can run 10 miles at that HR with no cardiac drift then you can start introducing ILTHR runs.
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Hi Shades,

    Thank you for your response, and for your presence on the forums generally - I can see that you've been a great help to many people.

    Thank you for the Hadds document link - that's my Sunday afternoon reading sorted! :)

    Re. the injury, it manifested as a sharp (but not agonising) pain in the front of my right hip, which only appeared when running (it's now present to a lesser extent when walking). I stopped running 10 days ago to let it heal.

    I haven't been able to see a physio, given the current situation, so don't have a formal diagnosis, but I'm guessing that it's either a hip flexor strain or something to do with my IT band. Either way, I'm attributing it to increasing my speed way too soon - hence my reluctance to dive straight in with the max HR test.

    I was considering the following approach:

    (1) Once the pain is gone, running strictly within 135-145 bpm. This is calculated using the Maffetone 180 formula (I am a 30 y/o male with <1 year experience and a recent injury). If my HR exceeds 145, I will walk, until I can get the cardiac drift under control.

    (2) Once I have been running this way *without pain* for a couple of months, I will do the max HR test, and use that to calculate my HR zones going forwards.

    Does that sound reasonable to you? Or am I better waiting longer in my recovery (i.e. at least 2 weeks AFTER all pain is gone) and then diving straight into the max HR test?

    I want to be the best runner I can be, but I am scared of repeating past mistakes.

    Thanks again for your time and help - I really appreciate it.
    NWCB - now that injury is not going to like running uphill or sprinting so I think your plan of running to Maffetone's HR is a very good one.

    Unlikely to be ITB as that is usually felt on the outside of the quad/knee

    You will know when the time is right to have a go at the MHR test.

    But starting now will give you valuable time to get used to controlling your heart rate which can take some time to get used to.   Then when you have done your MHR test should you need to run at a lower HR it won't be so difficult.

    Yes, you may have to walk at times to keep HR down but this may be good for your injury recovery too.   Maybe when you are ready to start only run every other day to give that injury a chance to recover.  

    Apart from having to slow down and maybe even walk the other common problem when starting this type of training is sore calf muscles.  This is normal and caused by the shorter stride while trying to keep the HR down.

    Enjoy the read. 
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Great, thanks Shades - good to have a plan of action. Now just gotta wait out the hip issue so I can actually get started... :)
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Had my first run with this approach today and thought I'd share my progress for anyone interested...

    My aerobic range is 135-145 bpm, per the Maffetone formula (recently injured, so not able to do the max HR test yet), and I was surprised at how easily I was able to stay within that zone.

    Here are the stats:

    Average HR: 141 bpm
    Max HR: 151 bpm
    Distance: 3.07 km
    Duration: 20:40
    Pace: 6:44 min/km

    Admittedly it was slow, and I had to walk on a few occasions, but when I did walk, my heart rate dropped within about 15 seconds (it would rapidly fall below even 135 bpm). Does this mean 135-145 bpm is unlikely to be my true aerobic range?

    I have attached the heart rate trace to this post for anyone interested.
    NWCB - great that you're back running.  :) 

    No, it does not mean that the range is not your true aerobic range.   When you walk you would expect HR to fall very quickly.

    What news from the physio?
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Thanks Shades! Feels good :)

    The physio wasn't super helpful to be honest. Confirmed that it was likely to be a hip flexor muscle and then linked me to a bunch of stretches online, some of which look incredibly difficult. Have to admit, I haven't tried them.

    That said, my hip seems to have fixed itself. Felt fine before bed and first thing this morning... had a minor niggle when I set off on my walk, but it dissipated within about 5 minutes and didn't hurt at all during the run. Still fine at the moment, but I will keep an eye on it.

    Can I ask what your position is on stretching before/after a run? My research suggests that it may be more harmful than helpful and that a proper warm up/cool down is more important.What do you do?

    Thanks Shades.
    NWCB - well that's good news from the physio.  So you're now able to run and when you've recovered fully you can do that MHR test 😯

    I would suggest you do the physio's stretches, rehab is important.   At least do the easier ones.

    Lots of conflicting info re stretching.  Personally I've always done a few quick basic stretches before and after my run.  For me I will then know pre and post run if I have any twinges or niggles that I need to be aware of.
    I do one stretch for
    Hip flexor

    You don't need to do anything dynamic pre run unless you were going to do a very tough speed session.

    If I'm doing a tempo run I just run one easy mile as a warm up.  If base training no need for warm up.

    I don't do a cool down either, if doing a tempo run final mile would be easy.

    When I've had hip flexor niggles in the past I did hip flexor stretches pre run.

    A lot of the advice re cool down refers to post speed work.
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Hey Shades, thanks for this post and sorry for the delay in replying! It's good to know how you approach stretching and the warm up/cool down periods :)

    I'm now 1 week (4 runs) into base training... it's been good! Very slow, and I always feel like I could do more, but it's nice not to feel totally wrecked at the end of every run. The most recent run was by far my slowest, but also the one with best drift control (only had to walk for maybe 5 minutes of the 40 min run).

    I did 10.6 miles in total this week... is it OK to add maybe 3 miles next week? Bearing in mind that I'm not a complete beginner, and was doing about 15-20 mpw before I got injured (albeit way too fast).

    If I stick to the 10% rule, that would only take me up to 11ish miles... Can we be a bit more lenient with this 10% rule when training at a low HR? (Assuming, of course, that we stick to the low HR!)
    NWCB - you're doing really well, how's the hip flexor?

    Yes, ignore the 10% rule.   As long as your hip is OK you can increase number of runs and/or distance, while you keep to that HR you're not going to burn out.  You could maybe build up your runs to an hour each time?

    Glad you're enjoying it :)
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Exactly what I wanted to hear, thanks Shades!!

    Hip flexor is completely fine... not even a twinge. It's so liberating being able to run regularly without fear of injury (although I know it's early days).

    Do you run most days of the week?
    That's great news about the hip flexor. 

    Are you planning having a go at an MHR test sometime?

    I run 6 days a week usually.
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    I think I will eventually... my injury is still in recent memory and I have poorly controlled asthma, so I can't deny that the prospect of doing a max HR test is a bit daunting. But I appreciate that knowing the true value is the holy grail of HR training.

    At the moment, I'm focusing on keeping within the 135-145 bpm bracket and seeing if my pace improves over the next few weeks. I've seen my HR rise to 188 during hard workouts in the past (although admittedly that was with a wrist monitor), so I can be fairly confident that I'm training within my aerobic zone, even if not completely optimally.

    I'm assuming I'll still make progress this way, although perhaps not as quickly as if I knew my true HR zones? Is the benefit of knowing max HR that you progress more quickly because you can fine-tune your exact range? I can't imagine that I am going anaerobic on my most recent runs - I'm barely breakign a sweat!
    Not a good idea to do the MHR test then because of your asthma.

    You're doing fine as you are.

    Yes that's the reason for doing the MHR test.   The usual formula does not work for all, some people have much lower or even higher than a formula would predict.

    I started HR training a long time ago and discovered I had a low MHR as compared to the calculation.   Just as well I'd done a test otherwise I'd have been wasting my time training at too high a heart rate.

    I've got Maffetone's book and have just started reading it right from the beginning, it'll take me a while it's a fair amount of reading.
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Ah, I saw that book online, read some of the preview pages on Amazon, it sounded interesting.

    Is it the guide to endurance training, the big yellow book? You'll have to let us know if it's worth reading!
    Yes the big yellow book.  I'm only about 30 pages in and so far it's very detailed.

    I'll let you know.
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    Had a great run this morning... fastest to date, with good drift control for the most part.

    I have to say, my pace has been all over the place since starting this approach. In just 6 runs, I have ranged from 12:30 to 10:11 min/mile (all at the same average HR of 141 bpm). Is that normal?! Seems like a huge range! In any case, it's a far cry from the 6:30 min miles I was doing last month.

    I'm aiming for around 14 miles this week (i.e. about +3 miles from last week)... I'm disregarding the 10% rule, but still afraid of overdoing it and getting injured. Can I be less conservative... ? I'd love to get to 20 mpw asap.
    NWCB - yes, that's normal when you start that HR/pace can be so variable.   So many factors, tiredness, weather, dehydration etc.   
    But you're doing well.

    I've just advised a friend to buy that Maffetone book, there's a lot of info on other stuff such as injuries, diet.   He has a few weird ideas but the training principles are sound.

    Yes you can be less conservative, as long as you keep to your HR you shouldn't hurt yourself.   Just take a rest day if tired.

    You're welcome to join us on Shades training thread, there's a few of us HR training, including one following Maffetone.
  • NWCBNWCB ✭✭✭
    If anyone's interested, I'm now one month into the Maffetone approach. Have to admit I haven't seen much progress (in fact my pace has progressively worsened through the month!), but I'm trying to account for the fact that (a) I'm only one month in, (b) I haven't been doing many miles each week, and (c) it's been a hot month.

    I did 20 miles last week and will increase to 25 miles this week (+5 mpw every week after). Hoping to see a downwards trend by the end of June!

    Graph attached for anyone interested. Pace is the blue line and heart rate red.
    NWCB - you will see improvements, you have to be patient.  Heat increases the heart rate so if you're running at a warm time of day your HR will be higher.   And you'll see improvement more quickly when you mileage has increased.

    Don't forget you can post on the Shades thread, 2 guys are doing Maffetone on there.
  • Hi Shades, hope you don't mind me addressing you, am new entrant to this thread. Having recently started Hadd / Maffetone (at this stage with no ILTHR yet, they are pretty well the same for me in terms of the HR I need to maintain), I was pleased to find the RW "HADD Training Method" forum / thread, but it seems to have suddenly stopped in Aug 2019. Has this one (Hadd approach for beginners) replaced it?
    I don't think there is an active thread right now for Hadd or Maffetone.

    But you can join us on Shades Marathon Training thread, there's 2 of us doing Hadd and another 2 doing Maffetone so a fair bit of talk on HR training.
  • Thanks Shades, I'll gladly accept the invite. See you there.
  • Hi everyone. I have set up a Facebook group for anyone interested in the Hadd Approach to Running. https://www.facebook.com/groups/769088873886386/?ref=share
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