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Apple Watch 6 | readiness-to-train
Right now you might feel energized or tired or somewhere in between, but really, “Are you ready to train HARD?”
Let’s explore what that might mean and then have a look at making the information really stand out on every athlete’s Apple Watch.
What is readiness-to-train?
The phrase readiness-to-train might seem somewhat self-explanatory and for the context of this post, I’m taking it to mean your ability to train hard and push yourself to somewhere close to your limits NOW. If you are fatigued for whatever reason, like a bad night’s sleep or a hard training session yesterday, then it’s likely that you will be far from able to perform maximally right now.
When you train you quickly introduce fatigue yet you only stimulate your body into responding with increased fitness at some point in the future. It can take a few days for that fatigue to wear off and a few further days for the positive impact to be seen in your increased fitness abilities. Thus immediately after exercise, you are tired but not yet fitter. You’ve given the stimulus to your body and the positive response will come.
You can quantify the work you did easily enough and you can model how that impacts on your fitness and fatigue, the maths of doing that day after day as one training session impacts the next is too tricky for most of us. But if you were a sporting Einstein, you might end up with something looking a bit like the following chart which was from my training in 2012. You can read more about that here. Eesh…complicated. Let’s find an easier way.
The beauty of Apple’s products is that they try to reduce design down to the minimal. If I told you on the above graph, that when the green TSB line was above zero you were ready-to-train then I’m sure you could imagine an app which just focussed on showing the green line rather than the gumph around it. Well, at least that’s one way of doing it.
There is another way and I think that is the way that the Training Today app works. The end result is similar but it gets there differently by measuring the regularity of the rhythm of your heart (HRV – heart rate variability). You establish a baseline value and then the higher your HRV, the more ready to train you are. Simple. ish. One benefit of the HRV method is that it should take into account other stresses in your life like illness and sleep, which the clever chart above, errr, doesn’t.
Here we have my Wednesday reading scoring 7/10 on a traffic light system. I ignored the advice (obviously!) and trained super hard for the next two days and the result that I’m ‘knackered right now’ is plain to see. At least it’s good that the tech agrees with how I feel.
Using Training Today
Using the Training Today app is, in some ways, better than some of the dedicated ‘pro’ HRV apps like Elite HRV. Training Today simply uses the background HRV values that the Apple Watch stores in Health overnight as well as considering some more obvious impacts on your readiness from workouts you’ve just completed. You can also get an ‘instant update’ by using the Breathe app, which records your HRV through a minute of guided breathing. The point being ‘it just works’ and you don’t have to do any special test to update it…although you can if you want to. As well as ‘just working’ it displays the information simply, clearly and unambiguously.
- Q: Is it perfect?
- A: No.
More: Apple Watch HRV ACcuracy
But it is worth consulting Training Today and using the information as a guide to your upcoming workout. Of course, you can ignore it if you want to.
TIP: Use the crown to scroll through the values for each day
Presenting Training Today
Training Today comes as an iOS app and a WatchOS app, there are a couple of watch face complications you can use but I don’t think there are any widgets for your phone yet. So you can use the complications to set up your watch face something like this…
In the image above, I’m using the Infograph Modular watchface. I’ve hidden the date and the Training Today complication is the main one shown in the middle as a line, with the wind/weather complication in the top left corner and then Swim.com, Strava and Stryd as watch app shortcuts (complications) for the triathlon sports along the bottom. Those 3 are all great apps for training for triathlon.
Maybe the Infograph Modular watchface was a bit too much ‘in your face’? How about Chronograph Pro instead? Here Training Today shows up as the 4.2 value in the bottom left corner and, in the bottom right corner, is a similar widget displaying Running Stress Balance (RSB) which comes from the STRYD running with power app. Using RSB only works for athletes who only run and it would be interesting to compare STRYD‘s RSB with Training Today’s value for a runner as these two measures work out your readiness differently – Training Today uses HRV and STRYD‘s RSB uses the method behind the complex graph, shown above.
Training Today FAQ
Q: Can I still just use the workout app?
A: Yes. any app that writes back your workout data to Apple Health will also help
Q: How Is Training Today different to WHOOP?
Sports Science 101
So that’s Sports Science 101 over.!
The Apple Watch is a great tool for capturing your activity data and clever 3rd party apps, when designed well, can distil the essence that most of us need to help guide our training.
Training Today is a great way to give the wannabe athlete a key performance indicator answering that most important of questions, “Am I ready to train HARD today?“
Please feel free to post a link to your favourite or most useful sports app in the comments below.
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