Wednesday, January 16, 2013

Simple Recovery Test

While training hard is certainly very important, recovery is even more so.  Working out, sickness, athletic competition, travel, lack of sleep, school stress, social stress; all of these factors can interfere with an athletes recovery.  Without adequate recovery, the athlete cannot train as hard as they need to.

Here is a simple test I found that the Canadian Ski Team uses to diagnose "overtraining".  They suggest  you do it once a week.  I would do it as often as I could, shooting for every other day.  And the only thing you need to use is a watch & paper/pen on your bedside table!

1) Before you get out of bed, lie there and take about a minute worth of deep breathes.  Don't get out of bed, just easily wake up.  After a minute or so of no movement, take your heart rate.  Count your pulse for 15 seconds, and write that down.

2) Now, immediately stand up. Take one-two deep breathes, and then take your pulse again for 15 seconds. Write that number down.  You don't have to do any squats, or jumping jacks, just stand up quickly, and take your pulse

3) Stand there, and take about a minute or so of gentle relaxed breathing.  Nothing forceful, just controlled breathing.  Then, take your pulse then.  Write that number down.

(yep, that took all of three minutes or so.)

4) Multiply these numbers by four, so you get three heart rate/minute values.

Now, what do these numbers mean?  Well, nothing by themselves.  What you need to do is establish a baseline, and that menas doing this least at least 4-5 times, when you are feeling healthy and non-stressed.  Once you have this baseline, you can then use future data to see if you are training too hard, not enough, or just right.  The key to this test is repeatability.  Make sure you do it the same every time.  Same number of breathes while standing up, same amount of time lying in bed, etc, etc.  Heck, if you want to do ten deep squats, then take your second pulse, fine.  Just make sure you do that every time.  You must do the test the same way every time, in order to get reliable numbers.

Here are some general guidelines.  If you have consistent elevated numbers over your established baseline mean you are overtraining. If the third number stays close to the second number, is means you're not recovering like you should.  If the second numbers keeps getting lower every time you do this test, you are getting fitter.  Again, these are just general guidelines, since the best way to analyze these numbers is to keep a log of them.  Once things start getting abnormal, bring your record of data into me, and we can look at it to try and pinpoint the reason behind the numbers.

Overtraining is a very real factor in an athletes success, especially driven HS athletes like yourselves.  Leave yourself a note by your bed to remind yourself to do this test in the morning, and try to keep good accurate records.  This is a easy and simple tool that can really help you reach your peak at the end of May!


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