I’ve been using HRV4Training for a while personally, and am now using it with the athletes who I coach.
It gives me some useful insights, and I often coach age group athletes who work shift patterns, so it can help us to see how well they recover from their overall daily stress.
Training stress is not the only stress in life, and age groupers trying to fit triathlon training in with their work patterns often underestimate the amount of stress life throws at them!
Seeing a recovery score can help them, and me, to make decisions about their training, and with the recent paper showing VO2 improvements in groups who used HRV guided training, it makes sense to track and learn more about how our bodies respond to stresses.
The paper is interesting, as it does mention sex differences, and the need for more research. I think as women start to approach menopause, heart rate variability, along with tracking fatigue and other symptoms will really help them to adapt to the changes that are happening in the body.
Case study – mid 30’s female athlete
I have been working with an athlete who works 12 hour shifts for the NHS, so we are using HRV4Training to track stress and recovery. She seemed to be coping with the training stress, and had entered a virtual race.
But…..the week before the event the athlete started to complain of sore joints and fatigue, she had been working a shift that day, so she had a couple of easier days after that.
I recommended more rest in the week leading up to the event, as her readings were low, and she was giving some negative subjective feedback, but she continued to train up to the event. The day of the event she felt bad, and raced anyway, then tested positive for COVID-19 the week after. You can see her recovery below, after the event.
Luckily she seemed to bounce back quite quickly, but this shows how her HRV was impacted by COVID-19.
You can see how her score reflected the illness, but she didn’t record after the race, so you can only see when her score began to pick up again around 10 days later.
It’s always a challenge to get consistent readings with athletes, but when you can see the data it helps us to understand what happens to our bodies when we get ill, and we can then make better decisions around training.