What is run rate? arr definition, formula, and examples

Maffetone Running Method

The MAF Method (also known as Maximum Aerobic Function) in regards to running is pretty basic, which makes most people assume they’ve missed something…they haven’t.

It’s all detailed very well in The Big Book of Endurance Training.

  • No run should be done above your max calculated HR
  • First mile should be done up to 10 beats per min slower than max
  • ALL cardiovascular work should be done at or below this number
  • MAF 3-5 mile test performed every 4 weeks to monitor progress
  • This is NOT training in heart rate zones.
  • After plateauing, you can add some speed, but no more than 20% of your workouts
  • No grains, sugars, more fat in the diet for better fuel (I do not follow this part)
  • No stretching, only structured yoga (I do not follow this part)

Improve speed while maintaining HR which is most efficient for utilizing fat as fuel, recovery and overall bodily stress.

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How to implement a low heart rate training plan?

Trust me, this is going to seem WAY too simple in comparison to your normal training plan with all kinds of workout variety. But we aren’t actually talking about no variety, if you read Matt Fitzgerald’s amazing book 80/20, you’ll see that EASY running is a standard of all great runners.

Low heart rate training I have found is a way to help runners understand what it means to run easy.

Instead of being driving by pace, you now let your body tell you exactly how hard you’re working by following your heart rate. The very basic of that being:

180-your age= max HR for all workouts while base building

Beyond base building, we know that easy running is HUGELY beneficial for all the reasons I listed above. So if you wanted to test out low heart rate training or learning to run easy, what would a training plan look like?

  1. Find a training plan that will help guide you in terms of total mileage for your goal race.
  2. Complete the miles listed, but NEVER going above your calculated max HR. That basically means you’re doing the miles, but not the speed workouts.
  3. If you go above max HR during a run, you immediately transition to a walk. Give your HR time to come back down and then you can begin to run again.
  4. You may need to cut down some of the miles initially if you find that even with walk breaks you’re HR is going too high.
  5. No cross training can be done above your max HR.
  6. NEVER go above your max HR…no zone training, it’s literally just getting close to max, but never going over.

Yes it’s really that straightforward!

Benefits of a low heart rate training plan?

Go slow to get fast. That’s the carrot at the end of the stick which draws so many in to this idea, but of course there’s so much more it than that.

Again read the original article, but in short, the benefits include:

  • Burning fat for fuel
  • Creating a solid aerobic base for training
  • Running faster with less effort
  • Prevent overtraining
  • Maintaining hormonal balance (less stress)

All right, now we’ve touched on the what and the why, let’s dive in to the how.

Tired of breaking down during every marathon training cycle? Maybe it’s time to explore Low Heart Rate Training #running Click To Tweet

Tired of reading about all this?? I also did a Facebook Live to answer your questions!

Benefits of Low Heart Rate Training

Long time readers know that in 2011, I began battling health issues that made getting out of bed feel like a 20 mile run and thus my actual runs felt like someone had piled bricks on my shoulders.

I mean I did them anyways because not running would have made me even crazier.

What I didn’t understand at the time was how cortisol, adrenals and my heart rate could impact my runs, mood and health.

“In far too many cases, athletes push their bodies in hopes of better competitive performance. However, the benefits typically occur only in the short term, and often at the expense of years of poor health.” Dr Maffetone

Burning Fat Not Carbs

So you’ve heard of the myth of a “fat burning zone” in at least one magazine article right?

Then you turned around and read about doing HIIT which blows that idea out of the water. What’s a runner to do that’s trying to lose weight? And what if you’re trying to get faster?

“The dilemma faced by millions who burn a lot of exercise calories but still have too much body fat is simple: people are burning the wrong calories. We don’t want to just burn calories. We want to burn fat calories. This requires training the metabolism to burn more fat and less sugar all day and night.” Dr. Maffetone

While running, your body uses both fat and carbohydrates for energy.

The body slides between these two fuel sources depending on a number of things.

  • Duration/Intensity of the workout
  • Long term training to teach the body what to use
  • Calorie balance {quality vs crap slowing down digestion}
  • Overall muscle {how efficient your body is}
  • Eating right {what are you giving your body to convert to fuel}

Checkout my own testing with a sports doctor showing exactly how the type of fuel we burn changes with intensity.

As distance runners we want to be better fat burners to prevent hitting the wall and decrease the volume of food we need to consume on the run.

Looking to get faster without stressing your body? Checkout this great #running style Click To Tweet

Your body stores roughly 2 hours worth of glycogen (what carbs become to be used as fuel), after that you will start to tap in to your fat stores IF you’ve trained your body appropriately.

Otherwise well, welcome to the dreaded wall, where your body NEEDS more quick carbs, non-stop because it doesn’t know how to use any other fuel…this is when you find yourself sucking down packet after packet of gels and then hitting the porta potty.

“each workout immediately influences fat and sugar burning. As we all know, not enough physical activity contributes to being overfat.

But on the other extreme, so can overtraining, as evident in the many athletes with surprisingly high amounts of body fat, despite working out for 10, 15, 20 or more hours each week.

They burn a lot of calories, just too few in the form of fat.” Dr Maffetone

What is the 180 Formula for Heart Rate?

1. 180
2. Subtract your age
3. Adjust number using the following:
-If you do not workout, subtract 5 beats.
-If you workout only 1-2 days a week, subtract 2 or 3 beats.
-If you workout 3-4 times a week keep the number where it is.
-If you workout 5-6 times a week keep the number where it is.
-If you workout 7 or more times a week and have done so for over a year, add 5 beats.
-If you are over 55 or younger than 25, add 5 beats to whatever number you now have.
-If you are under 20 years old, add an additional 5 beats.

It is not training in heart rate zones, this is training at a base low heart rate.

Looking for a coach with experience in MAF? I am a Maffetone Method Coach for many runners {when it’s the right choice!}. Reach out to me here.

Or checkout one of these MAF training plans to get you started!

Who Should Use MAF Method?

Is utilizing LHR something that might help you become a better runner?

Here’s a few ways to know the Maffetone Method could benefit you:

  • Need to improve aerobic base
  • Need to learn pacing by effort not just watch
  • Desire to improve fat utilization in running {important for endurance events}
  • Constant soreness and aches during training
  • Those with high sugar cravings during training
  • Those with high body or life stress which are already impacting the body
  • Those not recovering well from training {increased resting HR}
  • Those finding themselves injured repeatedly
  • Those experience more than normal fatigue every time they increase mileage

If you are someone who enjoys speed workouts or a lot of variety then the MAF method will likely bore you to tears.

However, it might be worth adding to the beginning of a training cycle for base building.

How to Do a MAF Test?

One of the tenants of the MAF training plan for beginners is doing MAF tests to help track your progress in aerobic function.

The MAF test is performed as follows:

1. Warm up 10-15 minutes (keeping at least 10 beats below max HR)
2. Select a 5 mile course which you can use for all tests {3 miles if you run less than 60 min for a long run}
3. Run as close to your target heart rate as you can for the entire test
4. Each mile should be slower than the previous mile (because your HR will go up causing you to need to slow)
5. Always do it on the same day of training at the same time for most accurate results

Your times should consistently improve. If they get slower during a session that is a sign to back off intensity or total work load in the coming weeks.

What about Speed Work with Low Heart Rate Training?

Get faster without hitting the track!

Sounds impossible, but it’s not…and thank GAWD because I love all things running except wanting to hurl while running 400 repeats.

Not only have I seen it in myself, but those I coach. I do think this is a hard method to go alone because you can have so many questions, especially the up front concerns about feeling slow.

How does LHR work?

By forcing yourself to slow down and do all of these runs at your low heart rate, you build a solid aerobic base.The majority of runners dive in to plans with speed workouts, cross training, and long runs without truly creating a solid base.

Once your body has a solid aerobic base:

  • it begins relying on fat for fuel
  • you are able to run faster at that low heart rate
  • less energy is required to run, which allows you to go farther.

Can I do any speed work?


Initially the answer is 100% no, you need to follow the LHR. After 4-6 weeks if you’re healthy and in good shape, you might find you’ve made significant progress and are feeling plateaued, so a coach could help you put in 1 workout a week for a few weeks with speed. Then you’ll go back to MAF for a bit and gauge the effects.

Another option is hoping on a treadmill and setting it to a negative incline to practice a faster turn over while keeping your HR down.

So, just slow down that’s it?

No there are other things you can do which will improve your speed before you ever set food on track:

  • Learn how to breath when running {more oxygen is super helpful!}
  • Reduce total life stress to reduce cortisol {meditate, yoga, rest days}
  • Eat more greens, healthy sports nutrition fuel and less highly processed food
  • Reduce inflammation
  • Improve the basics of your running form
  • Strengthen your hips
  • Consistency works better than anything else, stay injury free with key PT moves

Hate track workouts? Surprise you can get faster without ever doing a 400! #runchat Click To Tweet

When to use ARR (and when not to)

If run rate calculations are notoriously unreliable, why does anybody use them? In some cases, it’s because they don’t know any better, and in other cases, it’s because there really are no better options. For recurring revenue businesses like SaaS startups and other subscription-based companies, there’s typically a more meaningful metric. That’s MRR, or monthly recurring revenue. But we’ll get to MRR later in the article.

Do use ARR to set goals for sales teams

There are some situations in which it makes perfect sense to rely on run rate calculations, such as setting goals for sales teams.

There can be tremendous consequences if your budget overreaches, but having overly ambitious personal goals is a lot less problematic. ARR is a quick and easy calculation that individual sales reps or entire teams can use. It creates an annual sales target that’s worth working towards. Using that number as a guidepost can help you know whether you’re on pace to meet your annual goal.

Do use ARR to set expectations for new companies

ARR may also be necessary when it comes to setting expectations for new or newly profitable companies. For some fresh-faced businesses, small sample sizes are all they have to use as a predictor of future financial performance. It’s not the most accurate measure. But a young startup without much data to work with may have few options aside from annual run rate when it comes to setting a sales goal for the company.

Similarly, a struggling business that’s finally had its “hockey stick moment” may decide to use an annual run rate based on their first post-surge quarter. To get a better perspective on what their new normal may look like.

Don’t use ARR when talking to investors

Businesses often make the same common mistakes in their application of run rate calculations. And chief among them is using ARR when talking to investors.

It’s tempting to take your company’s best-ever sales month and use it as the basis for an incredibly optimistic ARR calculation. That you can show off to your investors, of course. However, this is a bad idea for a couple of reasons. For starters, many investors know how deceptive these numbers can be. They can be skeptical of any best-case scenario that’s presented without much hard data to back it up. Second, if investors do accept your ARR at face value, you may be setting them up for disappointment should the prediction fail to pan out.

If you do try to sell investors on an ARR, make sure you present the figure with plenty of context. And are prepared to answer any questions they may have.

Don’t use ARR when planning a budget

Budgets need to be as accurate as possible to avoid overspending And as we’ve seen, run rates are much too easily skewed to provide a realistic assessment of what you can and can’t afford.

A company’s sales revenue from past years provides a much more solid basis for budget projections. Brand-new startups will not have that luxury, of course, but should still be as accurate and conservative as possible in their estimates.

Understanding Low Heart Rate Training

I’ve written a lot about this topic because I’m passionate about the benefits that I and many of my athletes have seen, so for more details on the basics read these:

  • How to calculate your max HR of  Maffetone or LHR method
  • Low Heart Rate Training Plans
  • More details on WHY and benefits of following low heart rate for everyone
  • My personal results after just 4 months (PR without speed work)
  • Results from other LHR athletes

SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: In 2021, our Virtual Run Club will be doing a deep dive on LHR! You’ll be able to ask a coach all your questions, get feedback from other runners and figure out how to make more progress.

How to calculate run rate

For example, if a business produces $20,000 in sales during its first month, you could multiply that number by 12 to get an ARR of $240,000. However, if that same business followed that up with $18,000 in sales their second month and $15,000 in their third month for a total of $53,000 in first-quarter earnings, you could say that, based on quarterly sales performance metrics, their ARR is only $212,000.

Of course, the significant discrepancy between those two competing annual run rate calculations demonstrates what a volatile and imprecise metric ARR can be. And that’s not the only reason why these figures can make for pretty poor forecasts.

Monthly recurring revenue

MRR refers to the total amount of revenue that comes from subscription payments each month. Taking into account both the increased profits from new or upgrading customers and the financial hit from customers who cancel or downgrade their subscription.

This calculation excludes one-time sales, though. Since they’re not a form of recurring revenue. And it must divide quarterly, semi-annual, and annual payments by their intended subscription lengths to determine their actual monthly value.

The formula for calculating true MRR involves taking the baseline recurring revenue from the beginning of the month and adding all of the additional revenue from new and upgrading customers. Then subtracting the lost revenue from downgrades and churn.

Why accurate MRR calculations are best for recurring revenue businesses

Tracking MRR gives you a more accurate way to measure growth and provides a more stable basis for financial forecasting. To learn additional ways you can improve the precision and effectiveness of your sales forecasting, check out these sales forecasting methods.

Using MRR to inform your ARR

If you are a new or newly successful company and you need to rely on ARR to some extent, make sure your calculations are based on your true MRR, not just total first month or Q1 profits. All you have to do is calculate your MRR and then multiply it by 12 to get a more accurate ARR. Sales software and sales apps can help.

Check out Zendesk Sell, an industry-leading CRM software platform.

Be sure to avoid the same common mistakes that are known to skew all run rate calculations, like forgetting to factor in seasonal sales trends, upcoming product launches and feature updates, or any other outlier events.

Common Questions on LHR Training

A few more of the questions you’ve asked…

But I’m so slow?!
Yes starting out you are going to have to slow down. This is you finally allowing your body to create a solid aerobic base. By the end of 8-10 weeks, you should see that you are running your previous pace or faster at LHR.

My HR spikes initially?
You aren’t warming up enough or your watch is funky. For some reason, occasionally you’ll find the HR reading is off the first mile, but that’s something you’ll learn with time as you get more used to running by feel. If it’s always that the first mile your HR jumps way up, you need to spend more time on the warm up.

Your first mile should actually be about 10 beats below your max, so spend plenty of time walking and doing dynamic movements before you even begin a light run. All of this will help you run farther with less energy over time.

Can I do any speed workouts?
Initially no because that is going to push your HR. After a minimum of 8-10 weeks at LHR you can try a couple of things:

A. Hop on a treadmill with a decline feature and use that to allow you to pick up the pace. This will keep your HR down, while allowing you to practice leg turn over.

B. Try adding just 1 short speed workout each week. That might be 5 x 1 minute sprints the first week or a little bit of a speed play workout. If you notice a decrease in your energy levels or that your other runs are getting slower at LHR, it’s time to cut this back out because you haven’t built enough of a base.

What if I can’t get my HR up to my maximum?
If you’re in your 20’s this is far more likely. A 160 HR for  me requires really pushing the pace, while 144 (my current max) is a great everyday run pace right now.

If you’re 30 and older finding yourself struggling to get close to your max HR, that’s often a sign you’re already over trained. A low resting heart rate is good only to a certain point, then it’s a sign that your body is so overtaxed it can’t perform. This could be from a lot of intense workouts, dehydration or poor nutrition.

What do you use to measure HR?
Never ever use the cardio machines, they’re unreliable and while you’re holding on you’re changing your HR. I’ve reviewed a number of watches over the years, but swear by all of the new one’s that do HR through the wrist strap. Here is a detailed review of the options for measuring HR on your runs.

Isn’t this just using Heart Rate Zones?
Nope, it’s way simpler than that. You have basically two zones….below your max and over your max. Boom done. That’s it. Here’s more info on training with heart rate zones, this is not that.

I’m Over 40…50…60, so this is impossible.
Ok usually this is more of a statement to me than a question, but it’s inaccurate and I wanted to address it. Is it harder to keep your HR down to say 120, yes…but also your average HR is lower as you age, so there’s that.

  • This is where a coach might be far more helpful
  • You may need to do a test to find your current max
  • You may indeed need to spend a few months slowing down and rebuilding
  • You may need to have some patience and work through a bit of a plateau
  • If you’ve been doing it awhile with no progress, then time to evaluate, diet, sleep and stress
  • If you’re doing things right, might need to reconfigure the HR by doing some other run tests which a coach can help you figure out
  • Try getting an actual VO2MAx test, though I’d prefer a metabolic test. This will define your cross over point much better.

Common Low Heart Rate Training Questions

Does running at altitude change my LHR?

No. Dang it. I really wish it did.

But instead you as I am now, will have to just slow down. Overtime again the body will become stronger and adapt…then that sea level running will be awesome.

Is there a specific MAF training plan?

Not from him. The plan is run under your HR, which is why again I recommend working with a coach. They can help you figure out the appropriate mileage and how to adjust things during training as you progress.

I have created an entire Low Heart Rate course with multiple plans to help you through the process >>

What about the reduced fatigued?

For me this was one of the biggest benefits! I couldn’t believe that I made it through multiple marathon training cycles in Florida, while going through early menopause apparently without feeling that crazy fatigue!

By keeping all workouts below my max LHR, I was able to consistently keep coritisol down, while feeling stronger. I also quite simply enjoyed my workouts a lot more.

Do I follow MAF on race day?

No on race day, you let it rip!

All that base training will allow you to push yourself without redlining. However because you are pushing past your LHR, be prepared to fuel with some carbs. During most long runs, you might find you need nothing, but on race day a little can help.

In essence, there is a HR at which your body switches from burning fat to burning carbs.

Something like the VO2 Max test can tell you this, but for ease of use it’s your Max Maffetone HR from the 180 method.

Tired of trying to figure this whole thing out on your own? I created Maffetone Training Plans for the half and full marathon >>

How does weather effect low heart rate training?

Running in the hot, humid summer running will push your heart rate higher much quicker. Give yourself plenty of time in the warm up phase and just be willing to slow down. These runs will still lead to Fall PR’s when done correctly.

How long does it take to see results with MAF running?

How deep is the hole of over training or injury you’ve created? If you’ve been pushing too hard and eating poorly for a long time it could take easily 3-6 months. You will likely continue to see progression long after that as well.

If you’ve been doing most things right and feeling good, you might actually see your times improve within just a month or two of following MAF.

Would you be willing to slow down to get faster?

How often do you pay attention to heart rate?

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