Today I wanted to share a technology I am having good success with for tracking athlete readiness and also for guiding my own training.
HRV is essentially a measure of the variability of time between each of your heart beats (learn more here). Especially at lower heart rates, at rest, the time between each beat will vary and by tracking how this measure changes over time it is thought that we can get information about any changes from our ‘normal’ due to stress from sources such as work, sleep, travel and training.
Tracking athlete recovery, or readiness, is quickly becoming a hot topic. While the technology has been around for decades to track Heart Rate Variability (HRV) the ability to do so with low cost, easy-to-use equipment is relatively new.
What is even more important is being able to put all the data together and analyze it. In the past you required some high priced equipment and some pretty solid computer knowledge to put the data into tables and charts.
With the rise of smart-phone technology and ‘wearable’ technologies, like watches, we are seeing an influx of consumer oriented resources to track our training.
HRV4Training is a Phone app I have been using for over a year now after experiments with many other HRV apps simply because it was easy to use, had customization options for measurement time and how to collect, plus also collected subjective measures (e.g. soreness etc). These subjective measures are very well supported for tracking signs of over-training so I wanted a way to collect the data quickly but then also watch for trends, like decreasing amount of sleep or multiple poor days of training. In addition tracking these subjective measures helps to see where HRV might be predictive, and ultimately if it is worth the effort to collect it!
Another key is integration with other networks and data collections. HRV4Training syncs with strava and training peaks and a host of other services.
*Disclosure – I purchased the athlete app and used on my own and with athletes for quite some time, I have since been in contact with Marco Altini about the app and he has been quite helpful with my understanding and also let me try the coach app. This blog post is of my own interests/motivations.
1) Get Daily insight into your readiness. How you compare to your baseline.
2) Finger Tip Camera recording -> 1 minute provides insight into recovery specific to your baseline & includes recommendation for intensity
I have always used a Heart Rate Strap, most recently a blue-tooth model that worked well, however having to carry an extra heart rate strap is annoying and it is so much easier to do the quick recording with the phone in the morning.
*Check out the analysis of finger-tip/camera reading valadity
Get the most out of your camera measurement with these tips
3) Track Daily Metrics – Soreness, sleep, motivation, nutrition , training load … you choose !
You can compare these to HRV and Resting HR over time to see how things compare today but also how things are evoloving over-time with insights and baselines
4) Guided Breathing – basically you get guided meditation while the app collects that data, it is multi-tasking at its finest!
Even if all the metrics and data are bunk the app has a simple breathing guide during the readings that can be modified for speed and duration and that provides a graphic ‘breathin IN / Breathe Out’ cue. This guided meditation is worth using the app daily in itself.
You can set the time of reading, they have done some work to show that 1 minute readings are reliable so I went with that to, again, minimize time invested and ensure I do it daily with no excuses
5) Coach App – Coaches can actually see the data ! This is HUGE .
They have introduced a Coach-App that lets coaches see how an athlete is feeling in terms of more objective HRV (I.e. it is a reading from body not their choosing) and also subjectively by how they rate their soreness, sleep, motivation etc.
The price is per athlete, at $4 at this time I believe paid monthly in-app. For a next-level communication and ability to tailor training and track training/recovery progression this is very fair.
*The app will also upload basic HRV rating number and resting Heart rate to training peaks and will take in data from Strava.
Get the Apps !
Get the Coach App if you are a coach who wants to communicate more and get more insights into your clients daily subjective feelings.
Like this post ? Want to hear more about what I am using with athletes and in my training ? Let me know on Twitter and be sure to subscribe to the Smart Athlete Newsletter and Consummate Athlete Podcast