Sunday, December 30, 2012

Metabolic Efficiency Training.

      In listening to the many different podcasts that get me to and from work, as well as keeping me company on some of my long road runs, I hear a lot about metabolic efficiency training.
      So what the hell is it anyway??

      For me, I want to learn the science behind everything and  truly understand why to do something, whether it be in training, racing or living.  I want to test drive a number of different practices in my training regimen and this is how I ended last season and am working into this season.  So I went right to the books...literally.  I picked up Dr. Phil Maffetone's The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing as well as Stu Mittleman's Slow Burn.  (reviews of both to follow)
    I'll try to explain it in the simplest of ways.  Just know that there is quite a bit more that goes into planning a training schedule around using metabolic efficiency training and the lifestyle (i.e diet) changes that go hand in hand. So here goes...

    Metabolic training is working to make your body more efficient at fat burning, while increasing your aerobic capacity.  This in turn will make you a much more efficient endurance athlete.  Aerobic training is when you are burning primarily fat calories for fuel, and is roughly 60-70% of your max heart rate. The idea is to train in that zone and as your aerobic capacity increases, you will not only drop body fat, but you will be running at a faster pace at the same effort..still got it??
   So how do you find your metabolic range?  According to Phil Maffetone, you can use the formula 180-age, and then factor in a few variables:
1.) medication or illness (subtract 10 beats)
2.) Injury, asthma, allergies, or if you are not consistent with training (subtract 5)
3.) consistent training for at least 4 weeks (stay at 180-age)
4.) training for more than 2 years with progress (add 5 beats)

   For me this makes 180-30= 150+5=155, this would be my max heart rate to ensure I am training in my aerobic zone.

    In Mittleman's opinion, although this is a great place to start, there is nothing personal about the range.  Here he suggests a three range training plan.  He uses the MAP (mostly aerobic pace), MEP (most efficient pace) and SAP (speedy aerobic pace). While he uses these three zones to formulate a solid training schedule, he still begins with Maffetones base of 180-age, but then adds ranges to create a training c-quence
    The formula for the three zones are:
MAP: lower MEP limit -20                                              

MEP: upper limit 180-age
          lower limit: 180-age-10

SAP: upper MEP limit+20

For me: MAP range: 125-135
             MEP range: 145-155
             SAP range: 155-175

  To put this into a training plan, a MAP run, most efficient at burning fat (but low in caloric output) would be a slow recovery day, or long post race/hard run walk.  The MEP is where at least 3 runs a week would fall.  It is the zone that will lead to increases in performance.  The SAP zone is primarily reserved for the speed phase of training, after base building is done, or as an experienced runner/athlete adding one day a week in the SAP zone.

As I head into the new year I will be using heart rate training for my base building and to increase my aerobic capacity. I am hoping to continue to drop more time from my 50k and use this into my first 50 miler. Here's to training in 2013, exploring new routes and learning everything we can!

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