jump to navigation

Garmin & HR Training November 30, 2011

Posted by The Barefoot MD in : Health, Running, Thoughts , trackback

I really enjoy being a part of the Google group hosted by Barefoot Ted.  I contribute to the discussion occasionally, but like to read what the good folks around the world have to say.  It’s focus is on minimalist running, but often the conversation strays into other avenues.  One recent thread of conversation introduced me to a book called The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing by Dr. Philip Maffetone.  The premise of this book is very similar to another book I was introduced to by the same group called Van Aaken Method.  Both books focus on increased health through endurance training, and the best part is that neither of them condone training in such a way that you’ll feel like you’ve been run into the ground.

Van Aaken Method was published in 1976, but Dr. Van Aaken had published his “pure endurance” method, “first in a 1947 article entitled Running Style and Performance,” and mentions that his method, “was made available to the running world more than 10 years before Arthur Lydiard of New Zeland popularized a similar method.”  (1976)  In any case, Dr. Van Aaken, a sports oriented family physician from Germany, promoted an endurance method of training.  One that focused on “long runs at moderate paces.”  Dr. Van Aaken often said, “My whole teaching in one sentance is, ‘Run slowly, run daily, drink moderately and don’t eat like a pig.'”  He was also quoted as saying that “true health starts with endurance.”  (1976)  His method recommends that you keep your pace at ~130 bpm while running and a good way to measure that is by making sure you can maintain a conversation without interruption.  The book is small at ~130 pages and is written in a time before political correctness . . . it’s very refreshing.  It is a very efficient and succinct book, much like an endurance runner.  Not a lot of extraneous material found within.  I resonated with much of what he wrote.

Enter Dr. Maffetone.  Dr. Maffetone is a chiropractor by training, but was interested in a broader scope of treatment.  He shares in his book that, “it was my disappointment with the philosophy of the chiropractic profession and its narrow range of assessment,” that led him to contact his old boss for his old job back.  He discovered a group of students that were participating in, “weekend professional seminars offered by medical doctors, osteopaths, chiropractors, acupuncturists, and others who taught about natural hands-on healing, diet and nutrition, and exercise.”  (2010)  After getting into the book, I’ve been very impressed with his methods which I find very similar in scope to Dr. Van Aaken’s.  However, Dr. Maffetone seems to have refined his methods and has some details I find make it easier to apply his training methods to any individual.  First of all, you need a heart rate (HR) monitor.  It doesn’t need to be a fancy one, just something that will track your HR while you are exercising.  Second, he utilizes the years of data he has accumulated to come up with a formula to find your specific optimal training HR.  It all boils down to staying at your optimal training HR for the duration of your workout with a warm-up and cool-down on either side.  Once a month, you’ll do what he calls a maximum aerobic function (MAF) test to determine your current level of fitness.  He recommends performing this test every three to four weeks to track the progress of your training.

Honestly, you won’t feel like you’re exercising after you’ve finished your workout, but believe it or not you will get faster.  You don’t only have to run . . . you can do anything that will get you to and keep you at your specific training HR.  It takes time to get your heart and circulatory system in shape, so be patient.  Eventually, you will see that your speed has increased in order to keep the same HR.  It’s pretty amazing how you progress in speed when you haven’t been feeling winded during your workouts.


Aaken, E. v. (1976). Van Aaken method . Mountain View, CA: World Publications.

Maffetone, P. (2010). The Big Book of Endurance Training and Racing. New York: Skyhorse Pub..

Be Sociable, Share!


no comments yet - be the first?