Burnt Toast and HRV
So all is good with my toaster! Or is it? Occasionally I'll forget to adjust the timer and be presented with two pieces of charcoal encrusted raisin toast. I was thinking the other day that I'd love to have the longevity of my toaster. To be running with the same speed that I had (and took for granted) in 1989. The unpredictable burning of raisin bread, I see as a metaphor for my (I suspect) recent problem with over-training.
At some point during my 12 weeks of Hosaka-Hadd training my body started to object. I slowly went from continual gains in fitness to struggle-mode. I was becoming burnt toast. Looking back at my training diary, I can see the point where smoke started rising to the ceiling. For 10 weeks, my heart-beats per kilometre (the RS scale), had been steadily decreasing, showing gains in aerobic fitness. I was running my 7k kangaroo/wombat course at below 700 heart-beats per kilometre. At the point of over-training my heart-beats per kilometre climbed, reaching 715 to 720 beats per kilometre.
Is there a way of predicting the onset of over-training, or better still, preventing it from happening in the first place? I've been following with great interest a series of posts from Canute which tackle this issue. Heart rate variability (HRV), or more pertinently the lack of HRV, is a good indicator of over-training stress. "What is HRV?" I hear you asking. Simply put, it's the beat-to-beat timing of the heart-rate. If your heart is beating at 60 beats per minute and you have little HRV, then each of those beats will be extremely close to one second apart. This indicates a highly stressed (or over-trained) state. If you have good HRV, then some beats might be 0.9 seconds apart, with others 1.1 seconds apart.
So it seems you can use the HRV result on any particular day to indicate what sort of a training session you should do. If one's HRV is low, then it may pay off in the long term to postpone a planned hard training session. There are two heart-rate monitors (that I know of) capable of measuring HRV: The Polar RS800CX and the Suunto t6c. Now all I have to do is figure out if I should invest the money I've saved on toasters over the years into one of these high-end heart-rate monitors.
I hope everyone has had a great weekend. May your coming week be stress-free and full of happy running memories!