Recovery data vs “feelings”

Hi all

Earlier this year I started paying attention to my HRV and RHH via my Apple Watch (series 5). My question is, how do you interpret that data with how you actually feel?

For instance, I’ve seen a few instances where people will say they don’t feel “well” but since their Whoop bands show they’re recovered, they’ll do a hard workout. Is that a wise move? Shouldn’t the better choice be to listen to your body?

No ‘cause I am fundamentally lazy and have many many ways of lying to myself. I mean do I really need that new pair of shoes and lid in the middle of a lockdown?

Seriously I think in the short term no, long term yeah. So if you tell yourself you’re not up for training then you won’t be. If you get out there and it sucks after warm up then back off. If it persists over multiple workouts revise your plan.

If you can then correlate with HRV bingo, you have a usable tool. Sadly my HRV never Fully aligned with non functional overreaching.

1 Like

Both for me. In short term timeframes I don’t care what my tracker says, if my legs feel smoked then that is enough to reschedule high intensity workouts to another day during the week or inject a rest day. I am starting to pay attention to my RHR as reported by my fitbit to keep better track of how I might be responding in the medium / long term as training stress or workout intensity increase.

My RHR is pretty stable (normally variance is 1 bpm / day) however it started to slowly increase over the course of SPB. In retrospect I should have taken notice and added more rest as I felt pretty worked over at the end and took several weeks into the follow SSBII to kick all the fatigue. RHR dropped back to ‘normal’ after about 2 weeks. I would say I felt pretty good until the last week and had trouble with the last couple of workouts. Maybe if I added rest a week or to earlier I would have finished stronger and not required so much of the following SSBI to recover.

1 Like

Sadly HRV didn’t work for me as well. I’m sure it works for some. Like you said, sometimes I don’t feel 100% before a workout but then go out and feel fine after a warmup. And some days its just not happening, and if that happens over several days then its time to back way off.

1 Like

Listening to your body doesn’t have to be an abstract thing. There are some subjective measures that, when combined, actually give a pretty good idea. They are leveraged by apps like Restwise, TrainingPeaks or Rest!

  • fatigue
  • tiredness
  • sleep quality / hours
  • motivation to train
  • injury
  • sickness
  • libido (not in the apps but also a good one)

Big picture

  • work performance
  • social life, family
1 Like

I think “listening to your body” is far superior to any metric we have right now. Especially once you have a bit of experience with training.
I’m sure eventually data will be better, but imo we are far away from this point.

1 Like

My RHR is pretty stable (normally variance is 1 bpm / day) however it started to slowly increase over the course of SPB.

This statement just clicked for me. I start general build plan at the end of February and was really feeling good. But a couple weeks back I started the second half of the GBP and have been feeling much more fatigued.

I run the LV plans and add 3 hours of endurance work to supplement, as well as 30 minutes of heavy lifting twice a week. I’ve been doing the same since starting GBP and have noticed my RHH ticking up and my HRV going down consistently for the last month. I guess I didn’t account for how much extra strain the build plan workouts are?

1 Like

I’m also on low volume plans and add endurance rides and active recovery days. I think I was not used to all the super-threshold work (2-3min vo2, 8-9min 105% FTP) and while TSS was acceptable I think the strain was too much. Threshold and over/unders felt fine at the time.

I’m currently trying a block or two of high-volume z2 weeks and am monitoring my RHR and paying attention to my body. I think a big challenge is figuring out when it is beneficial to push through the fatigue vs pushing too hard and putting yourself in a hole. Right now I am feeling fatigued as the volume is high, but RHR is low and stable so I will roll the dice on this week, though next week is a rest week. Next pass through SPB I will be monitoring RHR and probably adding an extra rest week, making it 2 on, 1 off to get extra recovery and hit the hard workouts really hard.

1 Like

I think you do both.

I use HRV4Training every morning. The way I see it, I think HRV is a measure of total body stress. For example, I can do a hard interval session and wake up with sore legs but my HRV may still be high giving me the green light. The next day after intervals should be rest or easy endurance anyway.

Now if I do a block of training without enough rest days or I do some drinking or not get enough sleep, I’ll see my HRV trending down and down. If I let it go too far I’ll start feeling fatigued and then I’ll start feeling unmotivated. And this has nothing to do with sore legs.

I like the monitoring because I’ve dug this hole in as little as a week. For example, I’m doing my regular training week. Sunday is usually a rest day but I go out anyway. And then Monday is a holiday so I do an extra group ride with the club and that ride turns into a 4 hour slug fest. And then Monday I stay up late and short change my sleep and bingo I’ve dug the hole a little too deep. If I kept going with intervals on Tuesday I’d surely be cooked and my HRV trend is telling me to cut back.

1 Like

I tend to go by feel- in part due to not having much tech to go by aside from TR and a very basic running watch. There are a few factors (disturbed sleep, restless legs, night sweats etc) which fairly consistently point to me needing some recovery. That being said, I know I always feel worse for the first few days after an easy week, so I’ll push through that. I think experience is king when it comes to knowing how your body responds to stress and when you should back it off.
There’s also merit in considering how you feel mentally- which is half of the battle with challenging workouts. If you come into a really hard session feeling mentally drained or like you can’t possibly complete it, you’re already at a disadvantage.