The dark side of training – Rest, Recovery, Readiness

Why the dark side of training? Why Rest Recovery and Readiness?

Well I guess you rebuild your body when you are asleep and the 3 R’s sound quite good!!

If you are ‘just’ a runner and not doing it to a high level then planning what you do is relatively straightforward if you can be bothered. For multisport training it is quite a bit more difficult as at some point you have to do at least one hard session from each discipline usually once a week and soon enough you run out of other days in the week to do your long/endurance stuff and your sweetspot/tempo type levels of training. There are only so many days in a 7 day week. (well 7 actually).

Take a look at the graph with the black background to the right. Some of you will be familiar with it. Basically the day after a hard session you are not really able to properly do another hard session. Probably too the day after that you won’t be either. If you ignore this then you will not be allowing your body to properly adapt to the hard training you have just done. Adaptation means ‘getting better’….you want to get better, right? Similarly if you have done a lot of cumulative stuff then you might not be ready for a hard session EVEN IF you’ve had two days off. Also as you train at a certain level your body properly adapts to that and so, actually, it can at some point take being pushed a little harder.

All that is rest recovery and readiness.


So when are you ready for your next hard session?

One way is to look at your resting, or waking heart rate. It really will change day-on-day. The lower it is the readier you are. Cool, simple.

Bioforce HRV - Sampel Android Screen
Bioforce HRV – Sampel Android Screen

Doesn’t always work though. So instead you look at Heart Rate Variation (HRV). You might see reference to R-R intervals and RMSSD. All very exciting stuff. Basically, they are just fancy ways of saying how consecutive heartbeats vary from each other. Surprisingly MORE variation is a good sign of higher readiness. I could explain it but you will probably want to stay awake a little longer; so I won’t. You might want to look at ithlete or bioforceHRV or LiveRecording in SportTracks.

Is it worth it? Well, if you are training too hard, too ineffectively you are wasting your time. This can make you more informed about yourself and then you can train smarter. Yes, it is at least worth giving it a go.


Rest or Recovery

You might be interested in looking at Recovery on one of two levels. Firstly there is recovery between intervals and then there is recovery from a specific session. (OK, yes when you’ve recovered you are READY, so these are all linked).

Some Garmins such as the 910XT give your 2-minute post-exercise recovery. Just press stop (not reset) and wait 2 minutes, you’ll be given a figure showing what your HR is and how much your HR has dropped…your recovery! Track that over time. There are a lot of things that affect this so I’m not sure how useful it really is.

You could also specify your intervals so that your recovery period is determined by, for example, your HR going into Z1. Once it hits Z1 you start the next effort period. Again there are pros and cons of this. Typically you want to aim to reduce your recovery period between intervals to get more and more towards race-like situations (where you ahve no time to recover during most races).

Again the HRV figures indicate your recovery from one day or one week or one month…to the next.If your monthly recovery is at a higher point than the previous month then it’s time to crank things up a notch or two.

Training Load

Your overall training load looks at the time spent in each heart rate zone multiplied by the difficulty of being in that zone. (TRIMP). Moving average calculations based on this can indicate your level of fatigue. It’s good, I use this sort of thing. Look for Training Load on SportTracks plugins site or invest in a WHOOP 4 subscription.

You don’t HAVE to do any of this. But it helps. Get a coach or follow a plan and, chances are, someone else has already done it for you to a reasonable of accuracy. If you want to WIN; then you need to do better than that……







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