What is minimal form pace (MFP) running? June 12, 2019 23:42 Updated Not a Member yet? $25/month Get Purple Patch Education Membership, A complete performance education program for coaches and athletes. SUBSCRIBE You need to sign in to view this page. This is important and something that you won’t (currently) find on the pages of Google. It is a uniquely Purple Patch way of talking about an important concept in running. Let’s first define MFP. Minimal Form Pace (MFP): The slowest pace you can run while maintaining all foundational elements of good running form. You can also check out this Meeting With Matt where the sole topic was MFP. Now that we have defined MFP, let's consider how it applies to you, using two real-life Purple Patch athletes as examples. Example #1: Great Runner If you were Purple Patch World Champion, Tim Reed, in a battle for the win, you would surely be running with great effort; however, he also has an intimate understanding that if he can retain the basic elements of form, his speed has the best chance of staying high. If on the other hand, his quad muscles get highly fatigued and he leans (or ‘sits’) back in his run, his effort will remain high (it might even go higher) but his speed will drop significantly. Example #2: Weaker Runner Running may be your weakest leg and you anticipate including plenty of walking during the run portion of the race. Even in this scenario, your goal should be to spend as much time as possible running with the best form. This concept is the antithesis of hitting the run leg in a race and claiming success because you ‘never walked’. If you slugged through with terrible speed-sapping form, you will almost certainly end up slower than if you integrated strategic walking. Runner's Self-Awareness Ultimately, it all boils down to self-awareness. In order to create and maintain the elements of good form, you must establish self-awareness of what those elements are. In general terms, the most basic areas are: Posture - Standing straight and tall, your shoulders are in front of your hips to influence natural momentum forward Arm Carriage - Tidy and supple arms, carried with a closed angle at the elbow, with the propulsion of the swing happening mostly behind the body. Leg Speed - You are able to retain good leg speed. Leg Drive - You are able to generate posterior activation and drive off the back leg to create propulsion forward. MFP Applied Understanding these elements, we can now apply them to athletes, who can consciously retain them in training, or remove certain elements if needed. Let’s first look at the stronger runner, using Jesse Thomas as an example. Goal Race Pace: Jesse’s race pace in an IRONMAN 70.3 is ~ 5.10-5.20 min/mile. Yep. Fast. MFP: The slowest Jesse can run with all four elements mentioned above is likely somewhere around 7.15 min/mile. If I ask Jesse to run at MFP, he will not chase 7.15 min/mile pace. Instead, he will remain calm and retain all the elements of great form. It will tend to settle out around that pace (7:15), but does this mean Jesse always runs at least 7.15 min/mile pace? NO! Here is how Jesse’s training might look in action: Easy Running For resilience or recovery, he would consciously remove an element or two of good form to allow him to hold a pace that is easy enough. The two elements he would likely remove would be leg drive and leg speed, but he would retain tidy posture and proper arm carriage. Endurance Running In executing a steady state run, much of it would be around MFP pace, ensuring he was dialing in good form throughout. Early Season Vs. Race Season Running In his interval runs, imagine 6 x 1KM at a strong race pace effort (5.10 min/mile). In the early season, he may recover between these intervals with easy running, but as we edge closer to key races, I would ask Jesse to recover at MFP. This brings the bottom up - more realistic to a race simulation - and prepares him for race performance. You may be reading this and wondering if you are even able to hit all the elements of good form, and wondering how MFP applies to you. Let’s review a less experienced runner’s approach. For the sake of the example, we will call him Phil. Goal Race Pace: Phil's race pace in an IRONMAN 70.3 is ~ 9.30-9.40 min/mile. At his race pace, it is impossible to retain all elements of good form. In fact, it is going to be tough to truly retain all elements of good form at any pace slower than 8.30. Therefore, Phil may never achieve all elements of good form, but that doesn’t disqualify him from utilizing MFP as a concept for improving. For Phil, he has: Walking: With good purposeful form and intentional leg drive and arm swing behind the hip line to work on posterior activation. Running Below MFP: He runs with his best sustainable form, with as many elements of good form as possible (he will likely miss on real leg drive in his running). Running at True MFP: Short intervals of work to get him truly running with form. These might be very short speed based intervals, but effective. So how does he approach sessions? Easy Running For many, there is no such thing as easy running. In fact, some are unable to achieve all elements of good form for more than a few steps. In an easy run, this athlete would mix short bouts of good form based running (as many elements as he can sustain) with purposeful walking. Endurance Running When a weaker runner approaches an endurance run, we know that they will be unable to retain all elements of good form throughout the run. In this case, we would ask for ‘best form’ running (MFP) broken up with purposeful walking. There is little point in practicing poor form over and over. You can notice that there is a minimal difference for a very weak runner between easy and endurance running, but perhaps more walking (with purpose) when running for recovery. Race Specific Running When doing interval based runs, or race specific prep, the weaker runner has the chance to mix running speeds for the first time. In these sessions, the athlete would have a mix of running, running stronger (intervals), and walking for recovery. A weaker runner cannot return to MFP running to recover as the cost is too high, so they would simply walk. Summary To summarize, MFP is a tool for training and a feeling that you should be chasing. It centers you around retaining the best elements of form in your running (or walking) throughout the sessions. It is neither a pace, nor a heart rate, but a framework to drive your flow and feeling forward. You will have a different relationship with MFP based on your running ability, but it will be of high value for you if you embrace it. Related articles Minimal Form Pace (MFP) in Running MwM: The Meaning Behind the Swim Sessions Purple Patch Pedal Stroke Demonstration How to Access the Education Hub via iPhone How do I update my Email address?