Heart Rate Variability - are you tracking it?
If there is one thing that I'm finding is important in training to get fast on the bike - it's managing LIFESTYLE stress. All of the tools we have for training, in software like TrainingPeaks does a fantastic job tracking TRAINING Stress. And many times we will base our efforts in training from the "freshness" or "fatigue" revealed from Training Peaks (Our TSB).
But lifestyle stress bubbles around us all the time. Work pressure, running kids to events, financial stress, relationships, poor sleep and more can all effect the total stress hitting our system on any given day. Our body has to recover from it all, not just the TSS scores from our interval sessions.
But how do you manage or track - build an awareness to something as elusive as "Lifestyle" stress? I do know that pushing to maximum training capacity and not paying attention to lifestyle stress is how major burnout (quitting the sport), injury, adrenal fatigue and more occur.
Heart Rate Variability is a pretty "hot" new measurement in the past couple years in regards to tracking the level of recovery and SYSTEM of stress response your body is engaged in. There are plenty (Ben Greenfield has spoken extensively on it) of articles and research on the topic. But here is the Tony breakdown:
- ELITE HRV is an app that can track it for you. (And they have a PDF manual that simply explains your two recovery response systems, and what they mean)
- You measure every morning for 2.5 mins.
- You'll need a Bluetooth heart rate strap. (Wahoo tickr is a good one, Ant+ and Bluetooth)
- After 2 days and on you establish your baseline and Elite HRV gives you a score that help you know how to manage your day.
Through this process you will have an idea of how your body is responding to the stress in your life. It's not a guarantee, but very solid information that can help guide you in your training both for its Progress as well as Sustainability.