How to know if I should train today?
The science of readiness is a real thing. It’s alive and booming in professional sports. The ability to track data points to find out an athlete's readiness to train is shocking. Some examples of this advanced technology that I’m familiar with are:
HRV - Heart Rate Variability is one of the most used instruments of feedback. It measures the amount of time between the beats of the heart. It is strongly tied to one's ability to perform complex and high intensity tasks. It is measured using a special device that looks like an EKG machine.
DC Output - Our brain is like a battery that stores energy. We can attach electrodes to your temple and measure how much DC is stored. The more in storage, the more likely you are to perform at high levels and be in what is called flow state or “the zone.”
Sleep tracking - A simple watch can track movement, body temp, heart rate, and noise. This allows us to predict different stages of sleep and how much quality sleep we are getting. Sleep is one of the biggest indicators of performance.
While all this technology is important and wonderful to have at our fingertips, it’s best used for our pro athletes so we can determine when they should push through a hard training day and when they should take a lighter or recovery day. Us normal folks, who don’t get paid to train, need another, more simple system of tracking. Here are 3 questions you should ask yourself first thing in the morning to help you decide if you should train hard that day. If you answer no to 2 out of 3 of these readiness questions, it’s probably a good idea to take the day off or do something light.
Did I sleep 7 hours or more?
Do I have a desire to train today?
Am I in a good mood?
I have done a lot of very techinical data input for professional athletes and I can say that the above readiness screen has shown very similar results in our ability to figure out what days should be hard-training days. The biggest mistake most of our hard-charging, very committed athletes make is training on days when they should be recovering. A general rule is 5 days on and 2 days off, or 3 days on and 1 day off. However, if we get more specific, we know that adaptation takes place only when we are able to crush training sessions and recover from them. This might mean that your 5 or 3 days on might have to vary a bit in intensity based on your readiness screen. Your five days on may look closer to 3 days hard, 1 day a bit lighter, and 1 day hard. Play around with what works for you!