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Every week, ithlete will cover general questions on training and recovery, as well as specific best practices with Heart Rate Variability (HRV).
If you have a general question or a specific question on how to use ithlete you can email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Question: I know HRV is not the same as heart rate, but I had a question about using a heart rate monitor for training as I see a lot of distance runners using one for training but I play football and run the 60m and 100m. Is this something I should bother with or just not waste my time with. I am interested in using ithlete next season but if I am getting a heart rate strap should I invest in the whole system of watch as well? What information can I get that is worth the money?
Answer: Heart Rate Monitors (HRM) has value, but it highly valuable with a program that has some general conditioning done as interpretation of what is going on is the decisive factor when using any type of sport performance tool. Also, one has to be able to make decisions based on the information at some point, even if it’s a year later. HR monitoring is not necessarily a perfect solution to see effort and workload, but for team sports it’s something far less expensive than GPS or positional tracking. With so much possible variables to juggle, it’s best to keep it simple.
Many athletes want to know if they are getting in better shape or if they are overtraining. Rest can be prescribed to alleviate problems and the next week can be adjusted to refine the training process, but this requires a flexible coach is involved. At least you can communicate your findings and share your subjective feelings. Doing a similar condoning run, usually after intense training or games, you can see if each week you are getting in better or worse shape if the workout is virtually the same.
For sport practice more interpretation is required, but simple time and intensity can help estimate how much work one is doing to see if the plan is steady or jumping or cutting off too much work. Often during play-offs strategy becomes a primary focus to much that the athletes fatigue from being out of shape and it appears as bad decision making or lack of planning tactically. Fatigue creates similar cognitive problems that can be misinterpreted as poor decision making skills or lack of teamwork. At the end of the season review your findings and you may get a positive response from your coach knowing you are trying to get better and you are doing "extra credit" as an athlete. The main piece of advice I can suggest is to look for big trends, the ones that have influence. This means you should start with monthly and weekly trends instead of going by day after day to see changes.
Question: I really like the resting heart rate on the ithlete app as I used it in college after reading Jack Daniels’ Running Formula book. I know it’s a crude way of looking overtraining, but I figured it was good information that I can compare my previous workouts in the past with the added HRV scores. Also I never used the software with my heart rate monitor and wanted an alternative option. Any suggestions would really help. I run the 5k and sometimes half marathon recreationally but I want to get back to racing competitively in the masters division.
Answer: The software that comes with Heart Rate Monitors is often so feature rich, it’s confusing or doesn’t get the more relevant information athletes want. You can use any spreadsheet system and use time and resting heart rate daily, and show general volume and high intensity scores as well. The current ithlete system allows for both the workload and resting heart rate / HRV scores to be charted for easy analysis.
A simple question one can ask about resting heart rate is "does it change over the year" with training, rest, and peaking. Remember the most important data points are the workouts and of course the performance times themselves. We can’t be having personal bests every time we step on the track or road, so we need to have good training information that can clue us to what is going on with the training process. Sometimes rest or increased work can elevate it (overreaching) or show the results of a successful training period (planned rest) so it’s important to see the relationship between training load and resting heart rate.
No clear formula or recipe exists with HRV as each training program will be unique, but it’s a good idea to see if HRV is changing week to week and ideally it should rise over the season. Sometimes heavy training may stall the changes, but eventually HRV averages will improve as the training and performance improves. A good HRV score the morning of a meet may not mean it’s all doom and gloom, because trends are more important than one number. Conversely the opposite is true, a great HRV score doesn’t punch a ticket to a guaranteed personal best. HRV helps unlock patterns that allows users to find better ways or smarter decisions in training to help performance down the road.