Peak Performance

By October 31, 2017Endurance Sports
James Hall

MAF Method helps James Hall bag Gran Paradiso in the Alps

Over the years the MAF Method has been a guideline for success among competitive athletes and recreational sports enthusiasts alike.

The method recently spelled success for 28-year-old James Hall, who completed a climbing expedition in the Italian Alps. Among the peaks he bagged was Gran Paradiso, 13,323 feet (4,061 meters).

James, a resident of the United Kingdom, had a varied athletic background. He cycled the roads, then dabbled in Crossfit and other high-intensity training. He lifted weights and ran occasionally, but really never found his stride with running.

“I hated the running as it felt so difficult and would always leave me drained, sore and I would often catch colds,” James says. “Despite training hard, albeit inconsistently, I was frustrated at my lack of progress.”

James discovered the MAF Method while reading about how Dr. Maffetone adjusted Ironman champ Mark Allen’s training, leading to six victories at Hawaii.

“I was intrigued so I bought one of Dr. Maffetone’s books, and read pretty much every article on the website,” James says.

He decided to buy a heart-rate monitor and give the program a try.

“The training was very slow at first and I was skeptical about whether or not it was doing any good,” Jame says. “I couldn’t believe how quickly my heart rate shot up to my aerobic max!”

But then on a New Year’s Day hike he saw the first evidence of his improving aerobic system. During the outing the weather deteriorated very quickly so he decided to run back to the trailhead. He was surprised at how quickly and easily he covered the ground.

James then entered a trail half-marathon race that included about 4,200 feet (1500m) of elevation gain in the European Alps and finished in the mid-pack.

“I really enjoyed my newfound ability to move relatively quickly and efficiently over mountainous terrain,” he says. “I did this race and most of the training with a friend who had no specific athletic background, and he was impressed that we both made such gains in endurance without pushing ourselves hard on a regular basis.”

James also discovered Phil’s music site and listens for relaxation. He says his favorite song is “Rosemary.”

James started training for his mountaineering trip in January this year. Due to some personal challenges, including a career change, he had slacked some. He was tempted to try high-intensity workouts again but he knew this would be counter-productive and so he decided to stick with MAF.

From January to July he consistently worked out within his MAF training heart rate with only a handful of anaerobic sessions. Due to extra stresses he was very careful to gradually increase the training volume through the months.

“Before training MAF I wouldn’t have made these adjustments and would have just told myself to ‘suck it up’ and probably ended up injured or burned out or both.” he says.

He also incorporated Phil’s slow weights technique for improving upper body strength, which he says helped with using ice tools, poles and carrying a pack.

James Hall Expedition

James also experimented with fasting workouts for his long weekend runs and hikes. He believes this reduced the amount of food he needed to eat during the climbing trip, allowing him to carry less and decreasing the likelihood of digestive issues at high altitude.

James says by using the MAF Method he was able to enjoy the climb, and wasn’t completely exhausted during or after the trip.

“I actually felt good at the end,” he says. “There was no suffering for me so I was able to fully take in and appreciate the majestic setting of the Italian Alps.”

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