Looking for thoughts from athletes and coaches experienced in this area, do you regularly modify your training plan based on morning recovery metrics (such as Garmin Training Readiness, HRV, Body Battery High, and Recovery Time, or the equivalent from Oura and Whoop)? As an example, let’s say you have a threshold run on the calendar for today as part of this week’s training schedule. You wake up and your Garmin Morning Report tells you have a Training Readiness in the low range (1-25) and/or your overnight HRV has dropped below your 7 day average. Do you change your plan for today’s training? Or do you power through like you used to? I am wondering if there are improvements to be gained by making modifications based on these metrics or if they should only be considered as a validation for when I feel really lousy, and otherwise just ignore the variation in recovery metrics and stick to the plan. Have you had good experiences where the recovery metrics drove training decisions and this seemed to be an improvement (greater training adaptation, less illness, more and faster race finishes) over the old fashion way of just listening to your body, and bringing a strong mental game to just show up and do the work.
As context, I have been using HRV and Training Readiness for about 18 months, all of which I was not training for a race. I’m trying to figure out for my races in 2024 if Training Readiness and HRV are useful inputs for training decisions or more of a distraction that could lead to not train as hard as I have in the past (When Garmin tells me I have “3 days” of recovery time after a couple of hard workouts, it tends to make me take the foot off the gas for a little while.)
From a research/scientific view, ignore all of it. There are no studies that show any correlation/predictive relationship with any of that data. There is a recent TR podcast on that.
You will likely get some anecdotal responses from people who have personal experience. But it will all be N=1.
IMO, using feel and perceived rate of exertion (PRE) is a better indicator of when I need to take a rest and focus on recovery.
This one is just aimed at the “Over 50” crowd, but you might find some valuable info in this recent thread. For those in your 50's : do you plan your rides according to your heart weekly/daily stats? - #6 by RCC
In theory, trainings plans are designed with a prediction of how much load/stress a body can handle (in the form of weekly training duration and intensity distribution.) Of course that varies by age, health etc. If a plan pushes too hard for an individual, then they are overtraining which is detrimental (leading to a slowdown, reduction in energy, higher threats of injury or illness.) But a training plan is just a static prescription of training load and prediction of the individual’s (body and mind) to absorb and grow from the training. What the training plan and even TrainingPeaks TSS/ATL/CTL don’t know is how your body is handling the training load. Is the training putting your body in unproductive overtraining state? Or perhaps the training alone isn’t of a level that would put you in an overtrained state, but other parts of your life (such as lots of travel, jet lag, poor sleep, personal or work life stress, a chronic or acute injury, booze, etc) accompanied by the training are putting you there. It seems to me that an individual with a training plan (and a strong sense of commitment and no access to HRV (and the other recovery metrics) or a coach to notice declining performance) might not be able to acknowledge that the sum of all of this (training + life stress) might be putting them in an overtrained state, where they are no longer adapting with increased speed and strength outcomes. And HRV (and the other recovery metrics) might be a big improvement in this area where now it’s not subjective of “how do I feel today”, but more objective paying attention to the recovery metrics which will help 1) to improve one’s intention to optimize recovery with good sleep, lower alcohol consumption, relaxation, naps, etc and 2) to do align the hard workouts for the days you are actually properly recovered from the previous training (including the ways life and work stress can delay recovery.)
It seems to me that in the future a platform like TrainingPeaks would be able to take the HRV/RHR recovery data and recommend or make adjustments to your training plan according to the recovery data, and that these small adjustments every week could in theory give someone a greater training outcome than the Training Peaks training plan (or any other training plan/platform that isn’t factoring in rate of recovery) experience today.
Anyone else have any experience with this? Is the technology still too early? Anything to watch out for?
I seem to recall Jonathan taking a long flight in the last few years and was seated next to a clinical researcher studying HRV, etc.
Spent most of the flight talking to them about it and the general feedback was that it is way too variable to base any solid coaching suggestions around it at this time.
I think there is a discussion to be had about the future of optimal training with AI-based modifications to plans based on actual recovery metrics, but I’m also just interested in guidelines for 2023 about how we can utilize recovery metrics to modify the standard training plans (I use 80/20) week by week for optimal results…
Some of those guidelines might be (I am making these up):
“When you see a decline in HRV and Training Readiness, if that aligns with how you feel, then eliminate the intensity in training for the day, keep the duration of the workouts as originally prescribed if you can, and plan to return to increased intensity in the days ahead.”
“It’s natural to see a decline in your HRV and Training Readiness during this week of the training plan. Don’t be alarmed. Work hard, you’ll be tired from it, and keep in mind that the first half of next week will be a lighter load allowing your body to recover and your HRV to rebound.”
“If you want to use accurate overnight HRV to make adjustments to your training plan based on your body’s response to the training, it’s critical that you do X,Y, and Z test and make sure the ___ settings in Garmin are set to this, so that your recovery time and Training Readiness are as accurate as possible.”
“We have found that Garmin HRV (up through Forerunner 965) is relatively consistent and reliable, but that the Recovery Time feature assigns too much recovery time for extended Zone 3 workouts such as RT, and CT. Don’t be alarmed when your watch tells you you have 58 hours of recovery time after a CT workout. If you feel ok the next day, train as prescribed.” -OR- “We have found Garmin’s Recovery Time to be relatively accurate as an indicator of intense workouts having an extended impact on the body, requiring an extended period limited to low intensity training.
Thanks! Looking forward to the feedback, guidance, and other’s experiences. I know this is new, but surely folks have begun wondering how recovery metrics and training plans intersect.
I listen to my body, not recovery metrics.
Everyone wants recovery/training metrics, however the technology and software isn’t there yet. If anything I’d use the metrics in post to verify what you’re noticing in RPE, energy , motivation, etc. As in, this past week I seem to be struggling more than usual and my life stress hasn’t changed…. I wonder if my “metrics” coincide. Then from all those indicators making a value judgement on future training.
Short answer is no. I’ve been tracking HRV with the Athlytic app for a few months now, and I’ve also tracked sleep time with AutoSleep. What ai’ve found is that sleep time and how rested I feel when I wake up and if I am stressed from life events as a better gauge on when to change training than my readiness or HRV score.
My HRV has been in the tank for the last week plus, but I’ve been getting a lot of rest and generally feel great, therefore I keep keeping on and pushing my hard efforts and keep riding my long rides.
I found most of these stats garbage for me. Most recently at the start of the year I was recording HRV/ Elite training readiness. When I felt worn out Elite HRV was giving me the highest score for readiness. There was also nothing worse than firing it up before a TT, it giving me a low score and at the end feeling I could have went harder!
During outdoor season, I actually intentionally pair high intensity and long duration rides next day with no proper recovery to improve fatigue resistance. But not during winter, don’t want to compromise immunity at that time.