How do you know when you’re ready for another hard training session?
Do you go by feel? Do you assess overall soreness or your ability to move? Or do you blindly follow your training schedule and hit it hard every single time?
Why am I asking these questions and why does it matter?
One word- Recovery.
The less recovered you are, especially day after day, the less you will benefit from your training- no matter what it is. We’ve used the analogy about “just moving dirt” to talk about coming in and working even when you don’t “feel it.” But on the flip side, if you’re going so hard that you’re digging yourself into a hole pretty soon you’ll get so deep you can’t see out. That’s not cool.
You can use simple heart rate assessments to gauge your readiness for action. The easiest is to track your resting heart rate (HR) each morning. Once you get a baseline you need to watch for elevation from normal. If your heart rate jumps 7-10 beats per minute one to two days after a hard workout, you’re likely dealing with elevated stress on your system. When that happens you can either decide to take a day off or just move at 70% of normal effort.
Or you can go higher tech and track your heart rate variability (HRV). HRV testing is another way to measure overall stress. You can read more info on HRV and what is is by clicking HERE. HRV tracking can give you a quantifiable number that tells you how things are looking and whether you should do one of three things- Train As Normal, Take a Low Exertion Day or Take a Rest Day.
Since this past summer, I’ve been using Sweet Water Health and their app to track my HRV. It’s been eye opening to watch my workout efforts and recovery interplay. In fact, the ability to test recovery methods has been really cool. Last weekend I sat in a continuing education class. Seriously- 8 hours on Saturday and 8 hours on Sunday. You might think that sitting = resting and recovering. But my HRV showed less recovery points than my normal weekend active recovery. I got an insight on just what toll sitting long periods has on the body and it’s ability to perform.
Whether you’re going low or high tech, an eye on recovery is a good way to amp up your training. That’s how you build a better, stronger you- by working hard, recovering and going again.