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As you know, part of the big picture of being an athlete is recovery. What we do 'off' the bike/run, has a big part to play in our ability to be consistent with our training.

One of the metrics that has started to be used over the past few years is Heart Rate Variability (HRV). Note, this is not resting heart rate, although both are often used together as a gauge of recovery.
I'm not going to go into the background of HRV in depth. There is a stack of research around about it. But essentially it is a measure of the activity of the autonomic nervous system.

One of the important points to make is that HRV and resting HR are only useful if they are taken continuously. A one off measure is not meaningful. However if you measure them daily they become meaningful in the overall pattern of recovery.

I use these metrics with a number of my athletes, and I diligently measure them for myself. This can be done with a device (such as Whoop) or an app, which is my preference. I use HRV4 Training. It takes me one minute each morning. All metrics automatically sync to my TrainingPeaks account.

HRV4T will alert you if you have a reading outside your normal range. I got an 'amber' alert on Monday morning this week. Monday is my day off training, so I took the day off as normal and did not think about it any more.

Tuesday morning (yesterday) I had arranged with one of my training buddies to go and do our favourite local 6km climb. I had asked him to pace me as I was trying for a PB up the climb. I got an amber alert on HRV again with my value being low (suppressed). But I went ahead anyway as I felt OK.

My buddy did a great job of pacing me up the climb and I did a PB for the first half. I was on track for an overall PB until 2/3rds of the way through when I had a pretty spectacular implosion. I lost 25 seconds in the last km of the climb.

I was not aware of my heart rate or power at all on the climb, as all I was showing on my Garmin was the live segment. It was not until I got back and had a look at the file that I realised how high my heart rate was. Now a high heart rate is to be expected on a max effort, but mine was too high too soon into the effort. And that turned out to be meaningful.

In the afternoon I started to get a sore throat, headache and sniffy nose. All the signs of a low grade virus. So I went back and looked at the HRV data. It was only then that I paid attention to the resting heart rate in combination with the HRV score.

The picture below is from WKO5 and shows my HRV and resting heart rate for the past 12 months. Look how much of an outlier that resting heart rate was yesterday. You can also see the HRV is suppressed for 2 days in a row.

A low HRV score in combination with a high resting heart rate is a typical pattern for the beginning of a lurgy. I should have paid more attention to this before I went out and did a max effort. It explains the early elevated heart rate in the actual effort.

I will point out that I do not find these metrics useful for all athletes. But the only way to find out if they are sensitive and useful for you is to try them. And that means measuring them consistently over a period of weeks and months. Even then you might not think they are useful. That is, until you go back and look at them and see if there is a pattern to them in terms of your training and recovery.

Good athletes are extremely good at doing what seems like the ordinary. Recovery, and monitoring of recovery is one of these things.
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