Mark Allen & Phil Maffetone: The Benefits of Having a Coach and MAF for Athletic Longevity

September 6, 2019


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On this episode we’re joined by two legends of endurance sport, Dr. Phil Maffetone and six-time Ironman World Champion Mark Allen. Mark had a 15-year professional triathlon career in which he was coached by Phil starting in the 1980s. Working with Phil led to Mark discover the MAF Method, which he now uses for athletes he coaches at Mark Allen Coaching. Mark is also starting a new project called consisting of 10 stories that will be written by he and Dave Scott about the year leading up to their 1989 classic battle.

On this show we talk all about the benefits to hiring a coach, using the MAF Method, and also some great stories from Mark and Phil about the “good ol’ days.”

  • Mark’s history racing in Nice, France and 10-time win at the triathlon there.
  • Phil and Mark met in late 1983, and shortly after started working together.
  • Prior to Phil, Mark was training “stupid” by going too hard too often getting injured, sick and burned out often–until he switched to MAF.
  • The MAF philosophy is to gain fitness without destroying yourself.
  • Heart rate training back in the ’80s and Mark’s first MAF Test experience at 25 years old.
  • Mark went from 8:30 pace to 5:30 pace with MAF.
  • Discipline with MAF is a key component to making it work.
  • Mark ran 45-55 miles per week to get those results + patience (others gave up but Mark stuck with it).
  • Speedwork is fine tuning the system after developing the aerobic base.
  • Phil’s story:
    • Like so many of us, was he once a “no pain no gain” guy in his athletic journey before he formulated the MAF Method?
    • 1980 NYC marathon, he wasn’t as healthy as he should have been and he realized he was in an imbalance and his health was not optimal, giving birth to the idea of balancing health and fitness.
  • Phil’s early days with the MAF Method–did he ever doubt or question whether it’d work when he first started trying it out on athletes?
  • Mark uses MAF as the foundation of coaching his athletes.
  • The benefits of using HR are deep to guide athletes. For example, is one data point such as FTP or pace enough to gauge fitness gains? No, use in combo with HR.
  • Podcast: Myth of Non-Responders
  • What happens when Mark sees an athlete not responding to MAF? Look at variables OTHER THAN training alone–family issues, job, sleep, diet, and so on.
  • Our body can only handle so much stress.
  • Benefits of having a coach who’s using MAF
  • “The fact is we all need some health.”–Phil
  • “A coach helps you have a better experience in sport.”–Mark
  • Often trying to be your own coach backfires.
  • The problem of “no pain no gain.”
  • Mark & Phil give their opinions on group workouts and the camaraderie?
  • Training volume and choosing race distances–coaches will help you set the pace to get to your goals.
  • Using total time vs. mileage for workouts.
  • MAF for longevity:
    • Mark used MAF 13 out of 15 of his years as a professional triathlete, he’s a testament to the MAF Method working for health & wellness into later years in life.
    • He doesn’t have any chronic injuries as he ages unlike many of his peers.
    • Mark has intuitively adjusted his MAF over the years even now at age 61? Generally, he sticks to the formula and makes minor adjustments as needed and based on feel/results.
    • His MAF pace has slowed down a lot (according to him).
    • Be willing to make adjustments to your MAF heart rate as the years go by and then measure results.
    • If you spend many years pushing things your health might be similar to someone who’s unhealthy and overweight and it may take longer to get results–so have patience and trust!