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The Commentary

The receptacle that catches what falls out of my head as I run.

The Agony and Ecstasy of MAF

Chris Aronchick

I just wanted to share a little of the experience that being disciplined about MAF can bring in that it can bring joy and disappointment quite quickly. 

Here are my splits from a recent run:

SplitsTimeDistanceAvg PaceAvg HRMax HR
1 7:22 1.00 123 149
2 7:20 1.00 143 149
3 7:23 1.00 143 154
4 7:27 1.00 144 150
5 7:48 1.00 143 149
6 8:10 1.00 142 148

As you can see, the splits 2 through 4 were dynamite. Honestly, if I am anywhere close to that for my next race, I should have a Boston Marathon qualifying time pretty easily, knock on wood. (my BQ time is 3:15 which equates to about 7:24. My goal will be to try to beat 3:10 again, but I'd be satisfied with a 3:12 or 3:13, as that should be sufficient to get me in.) I slowed down pretty significantly at split 5, but that happens, right?

The problem is that I have only been running at MAF with some decent volume for about two weeks, and my average during my last test was 7:50. This last run averaged roughly 7:36. How could I have jumped that much that quickly? Am I just super gifted (spoiler alert: no).

No, sadly, when I turned around at mile 5, I got a pretty brutal headwind right in the face, and I imagine that that was the reason why my times were so fast for the first 3 splits and not because I am some super gifted runner. The fact is that running at MAF is a slow process. It seems to pay off for everyone who practices it, but it takes time.

As I said in my last post, running is a skill much like piano. It takes time and practice to improve, and most people don't become virtuosos overnight, and you don't struggle with a piece one day and then wake up the next day and have it nailed. So whenever I see a result like this, I almost always take it with a grain of salt until I can repeat it. If I can repeat it, great. If not, though, I am not disappointed (too much).

So I'll keep the faith and know that many have come before me on the MAF path and succeeded, so if I stick with it, I should succeed as well. The crucial attitude behavior is to be understanding that my timeline is unique to me and that improvements will come when my body is ready for them. For anyone who may not be seeing progress as quickly as they'd like, I hope my example is of some use.

-MRC