Have you heard that low heart rate training can make you run faster and want to know if it is true or not? Maybe someone has suggested that by listening to your heart you can achieve faster running results?
Or are you curious and want to know more? Whatever the reason might be that brought you here today, we have the answer for you!
When it comes to running, we know how tricky it can be to find the training plan that works best for you. You can find yourself spending hours researching and working out different calculations to create an optimal training plan.
You seem to spend entire evenings inside your head, but what if you were listening to your heart?
Could the key to running faster be locked in your heart and your heart rate? Not to sound like a sappy love ballad, we are here to show you how listening to your heart can help you run faster!
Instead of raising your heart rate, we are here to show you how low heart rate training could be the solution to your problems.
Just keep reading to find out more!
What Impacts My Heart Rate While I Run?
Before we get into today’s article, let’s look quickly at what impacts your heart rate when you run. Knowing this information will help you get the most out of your training plan!
There are lots of factors that impact your heart rate, meaning that your average BPM, that’s beats per minute, will be completely different from other people. And the same goes for your heart rate when you are working out!
Everyone’s heart rates are influenced by the following factors:
- Overall fitness level
There are also external factors that can impact our heart rates too, things like the temperature or elevation of your route will determine your body’s need for oxygen, thus impacting your heart rate.
Any medication you take, or stressful environments can impact your heart rate. And by stress, we mean mental and physical stressors too, they all impact how our body functions!
As there are so many different factors, it can be tricky to give one method of measuring heart rate that works for everyone, especially when we are looking at heart rate training.
Instead, we can use formulas that tailor the training plan to suit your baseline heart rate. Doing so is far more successful than using one static measure of heart rate that might not even apply to you!
Now that we have covered that up, we can get into what brought you here today and find out more about low heart rate training.
What Is Low Heart Rate Training?
Low heart rate training, or Maximum Aerobic Function (MAF) training, involves you focusing your training on lower intensive workouts. We know that sounds simple, but believe it or not, that is the point!
Low heart rate training works if you use a maximum heart rate as a threshold for your workouts. You need to keep your heart rate lower than your maximum BPM and you are golden!
Now, you might need to adjust other lifestyle habits to ensure that you can maintain this training, like nutritional plans or external stressors, but other than that you are good to go!
Working at a lower heart rate means running at a lower intensity, so how well does this help you run faster or improve?
It can seem counterproductive to slow down and run at a slower pace to get faster, but there is a lot of research that backs this method up! Don’t believe us? Then just keep reading!
Does Low Heart Rate Training Work?
Whether low heart rate training works or not will depend, just like it does with any training plan! There isn’t one method that works for every athlete, it’s a case of trial and error to find one that works for you.
MAF training has been beneficial and offers a multi-faceted approach to building a solid foundation for endurance. That’s exactly what the method was made for!
The goal is to establish a stronger aerobic capacity so your body becomes accustomed to and capable of long-term aerobic exercise.
We appreciate that sounds a bit general, so let’s dive in even deeper and look at what the benefits of low heart rate training are!
Benefits Of Heart Rate Training
So what are the benefits of heart rate training? Well, the first is that it can help improve your health and the overall efficiency of your body.
Your aerobic system is the process that allows your body to consume and utilize oxygen as energy for your muscles when exercising.
If your body can produce and consume oxygen efficiently while you run, then your body will be more efficient at burning fat for fuel. Doing so will help increase your energy and endurance levels, making you fitter and allowing you to run further and faster!
Your body will need less effort to run and grow accustomed to a steadier hormonal balance, which can help to reduce your stress levels. Along with the performance benefits, you can keep your heart healthy and reduce the chances of injury and disease.
The more you run under your maximum heart rate, the more your body can adapt to those runs. Sure, that doesn’t sound like a big deal, but you can fall into a natural moderate pace, helping you have more effective recovery days too!
Who Benefits From Heart Rate Training?
So who benefits from MAF training? As the goal of this training method is to improve your aerobic base, we recommend this method for newer runners who want to run longer distances.
But this isn’t a method for one type of athlete, it can help lots of people boost their running capacity!
Usually, those that need a stronger aerobic base will benefit most from MAF training. There are lots of signs that MAF will work for you!
If you have lots of soreness or aches when training or crave high-sugar fuel when working out, then your body might be working harder than it needs to to get enough oxygen and energy to your muscles.
Also, if you injure yourself frequently or have a lot of physical and mental stress outside of working out then AF could be a fine choice for you!
If you are also finding it harder to recover from workouts, there is a good chance that MAF is a fine choice for you. The extra aerobic attention could be helpful and improve your training in the long run.
Those who have recently had an injury or a setback can also use MAF to help ensure you don’t overwork your body without needing to limit how far or often you are running.
Of course, MAF training isn’t going to fix all of your issues. But if these signs aren’t caused by other factors, then you can go ahead and use the lower-intensity training plan to improve your fitness.
We would avoid MAF training if you like speed work or variety in your training regime. The MAF program wouldn’t be suitable for you as it isn’t going to motivate you to exercise.
You can still try it, though, as it can be good to use in the early stages of your training cycle.
How To Do Low Heart Rate Training
To do low heart rate training you first need to work out what your maximum heart rate is. You can use the official MAF training method to find out what your maximum rate is.
The guide can be a little overwhelming for beginners, but there are plenty of other calculation guides you can use to find out your maximum heart rate.
That is the hardest part, once it is done, you can move on to the running! The training plan is super easy to set up and follow. It can take a little while to get used to, but once you are in the flow, you are good to go!
There is only one rule that you need to follow: don’t exceed your maximum heart rate. This applies to all situations, any runs, cross-training, or other cardio workouts.
If your heart rate does go over the maximum rate, slow into a walk to help your heart rate drop down again.
You can still run the same amount of miles as planned, but without the higher intensity speeds, you might have previously used.
If your heart rate is still exceeding the maximum heart rate, you can reduce the number of miles you are running to avoid overdoing it. This method only works if you aren’t exceeding your heart rate!
There is an official MAF training guide that you can follow too. The guide informs you of other considerations that you need to keep in mind, like any stress, diet, and progress management.
Keep these in your mind as your training progresses and you are good to go! The main thing you need to watch is your heart rate though, and keep it under your maximum heart rate.
How To Measure Progress
The next thing you want to consider is how you are measuring your progress. After all, that’s how you will check you are making enough progress and adjust your training if needed.
For this to be effective, we suggest that you do a MAF 3-5 mile test once a month. This will show you how well you are progressing and can help you make any adjustments where necessary.
You can follow our step-by-step guide below to show you how to monitor your progress.
Begin with a warm-up for 10-15 minutes. When warming up, you want to keep your heart rate 10 beats below your maximum heart rate.
Next, choose a running course that you can use for all your professional tests. If your runs are under an hour then opt for a 3-mile long course. For longer runs, opt for a course that is longer than 3 miles, but no more than 5 miles.
Run the course, keeping as close to your target heart rate as possible. You need the heart rate to stay as close to your target as possible.
When running, you need to keep in mind the following: every mile should be slower than the last one. The more you run, the higher your heart rate can become, so slow down every mile.
This helps to keep your heart rate under your maximum heart rate for the whole test.
Finally, you will want to repeat this. Make sure that you do your test on the same day of your training cycle every month. Try and do the run at the same time too, this will help keep your results as accurate as possible.
As you do these assessments every month, you should see an improvement over time. You can expect this progress to be pretty consistent, this shows that the low heart rate training is working!
However, if your time becomes slower then you probably need to lighten your training intensity or total workload before your next test session.
Remember you can tailor the workout to suit you, so don’t feel disheartened if you need to adjust your training plan! That’s the beauty of MAF, it can be made to work for everyone!
And there you have it! MAF or low heart rate training is an excellent way to help you run faster. This method does take some time for you to feel the benefit, so don’t panic if it takes you a little longer than you expected it would.
Every athlete needs a different routine to benefit them, so make sure you are working within your physical limits.
It can be an adjustment but trust us, the investment is worth it! You can expect your body to enjoy some fitness benefits and see your endurance levels boost too, and who doesn’t want that?
Just be sure to listen to your body and you are good to go!
Frequently Asked Questions
Before you leave us today, check out our FAQ section to have your last-minute questions answered!
What Does MAF Stand For?
MAF stands for Maximum Aerobic Function and is what we commonly call low heart rate training. The process involves focusing your training on lower-intensity workouts.
What Heart Rate Is Too Low While Running?
For healthy young people, athletes, or those that work out regularly, a heart rate of 60 BPM or lower would be seen as normal and healthy.
If this dropped to 40 or so, it would be a concern. A heart rate that is considered too low while running will vary depending on what your heart rate usually is.
You can check out what heart rate is too low for you when running by working out what your maximum heart rate is.
The MAF guide will also show you what it shouldn’t fall below too. If you are unsure you can also speak to a doctor or trainer who can help assist you.
Is Heart Rate Training Worth It?
It depends! For some people, heart rate training is worth it, especially if you are looking to boost your fitness and endurance levels.
It can also be a good way to help combat any stress you are feeling and it allows you to continue running, even if you have recently had an injury.
Remember not to run on an injury unless you have been cleared for exercise by a doctor. The last thing you want to do is make your injury worse or impact your recovery time.