Recently I have been banging on about recovery, sleep and not training when fatigued as the number 1 priority. I have had a number of queries on how we assess the difference between feeling tired and being fatigued. Fortunately an advanced metric (HRV) that has been available to the medical and elite athletic field is now available to the general public through smart phone apps and the latest wearable technologies (Garmin Finix3, 735xt and 920xt)
Heart rate variability (HRV) gives us and insight as to how our bodies are dealing with daily stress. This includes training, deprived sleep, work/financial/family stress and illness. In short if your HRV is low training should stop or be limited to recovery only, If HRV is high, it’s time to go hard or long.
I have been using HRV for a while for my own training and now see it as a critical metric for gaining insights into my body’s ability to train on a given day. Knowing when to go hard and when to back off can make the difference between over-training or achieving your goals.
By using an HRV compatible app and diligently recording values like sleep quality and mood, we can get a more detailed accounting of how your body responds to various training loads.
TrainingPeaks have a great article outlining HRV, how to measure and record in TrainingPeaks.
I am asking all my athletes to begin tracking this metric during training blocks to assist in decision making and help us to understand training load and recovery cycles. I have also given my coached athletes the “license” to make intuitive adjustments to their weekly program according to HRV scores and their general feeling. My preference is that my athletes do not perform each and every session as set by me as I cannot predict work load, family stress or illness. My preference is to see that an athlete drops some sessions, switches sessions to another day according to their “readiness to train” state. As a coach, an athlete with all green status in TrainingPeaks on sessions is a flag for concern, I expect to see some yellow and red based on intuitive decisions. controversially I do not believe in “consistency is king”, a better ethos would be “Targeted variability wins”.
Contact me if you would like assistance in measuring, recording or understanding the practical use for HRV. This is truly exciting science and a game changer if used correctly!