Dr. Phil Maffetone – Speed up by slowing down

phil maffetone January 22, 2013

[quote]TRN friend, Christopher McDougall says, “… I haven’t found anything to compare with the clarity and wisdom of Dr. Phil Maffetone“.[/quote]

[quote]Mark Allen, six-time winner of the Hawaiian Ironman says, “Welcome to what will undoubtedly be a whole new level of athletic performance.”[/quote]

Dr. Phil Maffetone has been dubbed one of the top 20 most influential people in endurance sports.

We sit down with Dr. Maffetone to discuss his book, “The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing” – 509 pages of endurance training methods that have helped countless athletes perform at their highest level.

You can find us on iTunes or listen by using the player below.

373 Responses

  1. Jonas says:

    This is the guy that puts the whole puzzle together. Listen to him and become a healthier and better athlete! Thanks Scott and Don for a great podcast.

  2. John Molander says:

    In an earlier podcast from sept you asked for a rule of thumb finding the maximum aerobic training heartrate, or target rate, without all the calculation and formulas. Running with a friend, talking with ease i a good one. Well, I run alone almost all my runs (I think many of us do) and there aren’t many to talk to. I found out that an easily applied procedure is put the earbuds in and call a friend on the phone after a couple of miles. Try to have a conversation without a problem. Soon you will find it.

  3. Jason Novack says:

    If I do the 180 – age and the other factors, I end up needing to do my runs at a pace barley faster than a walk in order to keep the heart rate down. I am 42 and have a high resting (82) and working heart rate (max 207). My doctors have told me that my heart is healthy and in good shape, it just revs high. What can or should I do to rework the plan for me?

  4. Scott Warr says:

    Jason- I, too, have a very high exercise HR. I typically average a nice comfortable (talking with a friend) pace at around 168 BPM (I can easily get to 180-190 and maintain for a while). My 180 formula says I should be training at 135! I asked Dr. Phil about this. He explained that some of us that did anaerobic sports early in life (mine was football and downhill skiing) trained our bodies to develop a better anaerobic system. He said it is no reflection of our fitness level. I am going to experiment and see if slowing down will help me build my aerobic system so I can gradually run faster at alert HR.

    • John Molander says:

      Thats interesting, its a big step between 168 and 135. Did Dr. Phil suggest 135 for you? And that a well developed anaerobic system is not the same as high fitness level.

      • Scott Warr says:

        I got the 135 BPM by using the Dr. Phil’s 180 formula: http://philmaffetone.com/180formula.cfm
        He confirmed (whew) that one can still be at a high fitness level with a high HR. When I am in good shape, even though my HR is high when training, my HR recovers quickly and my resting HR is low. I infer from talking with Dr. Phil that it will just take time for my anerobic system to develop. I am setting a goal, as much as it pains me, to train below that 135 BPM and see if it works.

        • Michael Smith says:

          Scott – My experience is similar. As a kid I played hockey and football. After listening to the podcast I bought the book, got a heart rate monitor doohicky for my Garmin, and calculated that my aerobic heart rate at 130. So, last night I took off for my very first run using Dr. Maffetone’s methods and WOW! I had to walk a lot to keep my heart rate down. Especially at first. After a couple of miles I found an effort level that kept my heart rate just under the 130 bpm. I really was amazed at how slow I was. I am trusting that in time I will gain some speed back as my aerobic system gets fitter.

          Excellent podcast! Thank you! Hope you will be having Dr. Maffetone back again in the future.

          • I too have a high HR when running. I’m just a little lower than Scott. I usually stop feeling comfortable when the HR gets above 160 BPM. I’ve been wearing the monitor for a few years now and feel my aerobic threshold is between 150 and 160 BPM. I ascertain this by my breathing, fatigue and especially by my level of craving for carbs both during and after a run. It’s not scientific, nor based on any measured tests, just me listening to my body and making a guess. Take it for what it’s worth.

        • TonyQ says:

          Hi Scott,

          Do you want the good news. This method is genius and it DOES work. I am a recreational runner who has an only two half marathons and a handful of 10ks and I decided to run this way for several reasons.
          1. I burned out on my last half marathon because I hit the wall.
          2. I was sick of waking up exhausted
          3. I wasnt getting any faster for my previous efforts.

          I started off on this running 139 which is my maximum aerobic function and was at 10.5 minute miles, so pretty slow. After 3 months of running nothing but below this threshold I am now down at 9 minute miles for the same effort. I even walk up hills to keep it below the threshold, but guess what, Im walking fewer hills now. My aim is to eventually get down to get down to 7.5 miute miles and be able to run the entire marathon at this pace. The hardest part of this method is sticking with it. it requires a lot of patience and an ego check.

          Good luck

    • David D Tarkalson says:

      I am having the same issue. I ran AR50 at age 40 at an average HR of 150. According to the Maffetone method my maximum aerobic threshold should have been 140. During AR50 I was never anaerobic, in fact after the run knew I could have pushed it much harder and still been aerobic. According to this my threshold should be around 180-age+10. I wonder if the 180 formula could have many outliers.

      • Trent says:

        I haven’t listened to the podcast yet but I’ve read the book. The 180 formula, from my understanding, isn’t perfect for every runner. There are ways to calculate your maximum heart rate by working to exhaustion. For example, according to the formula, I should be going at about 142 bpm, which I did for four months with amazing results. I now go at 147 because my max heart rate was actually about 7 beats per minute higher. Either way, I’ve gotten much, much faster by running slow, exactly how Phil recommends.

  5. Steve Pero says:

    Jason, another way to better do this is to find your max HR (it just needs to be close, not exact) and run at 60-70% of your max HR.
    So you would take your max, subtract your resting HR, do the multiplication and add back in your resting.
    So for me with a max of 180 and a resting of 50, I would be like this. 180-50 = 130 * .65 = 84.5 = 50 = 134.5.
    That’s running at 65% where i’m real comfortable and can easily carry on a conversation. If I went strictly by the Maffetone 180 formula, I’d be running 114-124, much too slow for any gains in fitness.
    I’ve been following this low HR training now for 8 years with a lot of success…but I do add hill repeats and tempos runs after I feel I’ve maxed out my aerobic fitness.
    Good luck with it!

  6. Bjorn says:

    Thanks for this great podcast. It’s one of those you have to listen to several times to extract all the information.
    The bit about respiratory bio-feedback was especially interesting to me. I have a bit of professional training as a singer and abdominal breathing comes naturally to me. Breathing into your chest uses far more muscles and your whole upper body tightens up which is bad for singing and I guess bad for running as well. So if anybody is interested in learning good breathing technique, check for online singing lessons and take their advice on board. Should be plenty out there on the interweb.
    Thanks TRN for the informative interview!

  7. Matt says:

    Why no Kindle version of the big book in the UK Dr. Phil? 🙁

  8. Adolfo Neto says:

    Hi Trail Runner Nation,

    Could you post a link to the picture of the cyclist mentioned in the podcast?


  9. One of the topics touched on in the podcast is the affect of anaerobic training on the aerobic system. For the last several years, my XT has been mainly weight/strength training in the gym 2-3 days a week. A month ago I traded this out for swimming conditioning (mostly under my aerobic threshold). In that month I have already noticed an improvement in my aerobic system. At a given pace, my HR has already dropped about 5 BPM. It may not sound like much, but that translates to 15-30 seconds faster per mile while maintaining a certain level of effort and HR.

  10. vegpedlr says:

    Great podcast! Hearing Maffetone explain his system really helps understanding. I switched to using his 180 formula about a year and a half ago, and like others, found my pace really slow. But if you train disciplined, walking when necessary, you really do get faster. I also wonder if my range is a little low, since my HR ranges skew high. My max is 200, LT is 175, but my 180 formula is 145. For now I’ll stick to 145, remembering that Maffetone defines anaerobic differently than others, at a lower heart rate (fat burning capacity, not lactate accumulation) .

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  12. Ciaran Foley says:

    Great Podcast.. Im going to but in a good base training over the winter.

    How long is a good amount of time to do this base training?

  13. Marco Abreu says:

    Is Maffetone sitting in the bathroom during this interview? Don’t be so cheap and mic him properly guys.

  14. […] suggested I listen to this podcast in which Dr Phil Maffetone explains his “180 Formula”, the starting point for finding […]

  15. […] Speed Up by Slowing Down with Phil Maffetone on Trail Runner Nation […]

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