Aerobic base building progress: Last month I... - Bridge to 10K

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Aerobic base building progress


Last month I experimented with nasal breathing and started following the Douillard/Maffetone method of low intensity running to build my aerobic base.

The bad news – it's really frustrating having to slow down/walk whenever your heart rate goes outside your target zone (118 to 128 for me).

The good news – because it's very low impact, you can run every day. Yay!

And my progress? Well, my body is adapting. I am now able to get into a steady jog after about 500m of run/walk warm-up. At first, I was going 45 minutes without my HR settling into my target range. As I've improved, I have been able to start running and keep it up earlier and earlier in each run.

I've managed to run on 29 days in March and I've covered 162.3 km. (Garmin Connect summary attached). I've noticed improvements, breaking my 1k and 1 mile records three days running this week. However, I've yet to break 30 minutes for the 5k again and my PB set last October still holds.

My dilemma is when to resume intervals again – I don't want to undo all the good work of the past couple of months. I have it in mind to attempt to run as far as I can aerobically but haven't yet had a day where I had the time to devote to it.

I've also given up alcohol and today is my 19th day.

7 Replies

I’m sorry I can’t advise you but I’m interested in the method you’ve been using and more on the heart rate business !

Can you enlighten me or recommend some reading please?

Well done on advancing your running and giving up alcohol. Day 20 now! 👍🏻

FlyingredGraduate10 in reply to Biddy62

Day 20 indeed! And still enjoying it. :)

I could recommend loads of books but for general background, if you haven't already read it, 'Born to Run' by Christopher Macdougall and for the specifics of the heart rate approach, 'Mind, Body and Sport' by John Douillard.

For more on Phil Maffetone's method, try – he has published a few books which I haven't read, so can't make a recommendation.

Biddy62Graduate10 in reply to Flyingred

Thank you Flyingred. I’ll look at that link and maybe try a book. As an older runner I’m looking for ways to build stamina and pace without injury and overdoing it. I love a bit of science behind things too. Thank you again and am following this post to see what advice you get from the runningpedia on here 😆


Just wondering. How have you set your heart rate zones? The standard formula is usually way off the mark. (If I'm teaching egg-sucking just tell me to shut up and Loris Off).

FlyingredGraduate10 in reply to SlowLoris

Happy to answer. The Douillard method is to subtract your resting heart rate from your max heart rate, divide that by two and add it to your resting heart rate. That gives me 125 bpm as a target rate. The Maffetone method is to subtract your age from 180 and then adjust for fitness level, etc. which works out a few bpm less. I reckon that keeping my HR between 118 and 128 by speeding up/easing off should be about right.

The biggest challenge is at the start of each run, working out whether my HR has settled down or is likely to overshoot the upper limit while I'm taking it easy in the first km. I have thought it has settled only to see it spike at 160 within a few paces! As I wrote above, a month ago I did 8 km of frustrating run/walk without my HR settling down at all. Now it settles after about 400m. It's fascinating!

I was sceptical about the '180 minus age' formula, but having stuck with it, I can see that I am now doing similar times to a few months ago but at a much lower average heart rate.

SlowLorisGraduate10 in reply to Flyingred

How did you find your max heart rate for the Douillard method?

Did you use a formula or have you measured it. This has come up a lot on the forum where the 220-age formula gives a max figure that seems way off for a lot of us.

Your max heart rate, by definition must be equal to or higher than anything you've ever measured. Whilst we don't have access to a lab, running up a steep hill a few times in a row will soon give you a starting point.

If the formula worked I would be 37 years old or younger. Which would be nice but, as I said, way way off the mark.

FlyingredGraduate10 in reply to SlowLoris

I took my max heart rate from the peak recorded during a HIIT session. From what I've read, it's likely that my true max HR in a lab test would be a few beats higher.

I don't think that getting the precise number makes a huge amount of difference. If we were to follow the 220 minus age formula that would set a lower target HR, which would mean training at a lower intensity.

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