Heart Rate Variability, recovery, and training

I started using heart rate variability (HRV) this year as a way to attempt to track my form so that I could have a slightly more scientific than “how I feel” method to know if I was overtraining throughout the year.  I feel like I’ve now accumulated enough data to get a baseline for where I normally am and I’m starting to question myself a bit.  I have a pretty good HRV (according to what the “experts” are saying) with an average of around 94.  I suppose this means I’m relatively fit although I’m realistically just starting to train this year and I’m not really that fit yet.

I measure my HRV using the sweetbeats app shortly after I wake up.  I try to do it every morning, but there’s typically a day or more per week that I miss.  I only do the measurements prior to workouts so that I get my rested state each morning.  I’ve now been doing base training for quite a while and I have yet to really see the HRV drop much.  I know that my workouts to date have not been overly intense since I’m doing base training.  However, I also know that my HRV does drop pretty significantly just after a workout as I’ve seen it down in the 70s before when I measured just after a swim workout out of curiosity.

So, my HRV does move and does respond to stimuli (workouts).  What I’m perplexed about is if I need to put in longer hours or harder workouts. I know base training is not supposed to be tough, but I had expected that my HRV would drop across the weeks and then rise back up on my rest weeks.  However, that’s not what I’m seeing at all.  I’ve written sweetwater to hopefully get access to all of my data.  In the meantime, unfortunately all I can get is this pretty basic graph from the application.  This graph shows my data from 2014.  Early on, I took data every day (sometimes before workouts and sometimes after workouts).  Recently, I”ve switched so that I typically only take data in the morning before workouts.  Most of the data points that were low (in the 80s) were done after workouts.

This chart shows a summation of all my data for 2014.  The green line is the daily measurements and the orange is a rolling 7 day average.

2014-04-03 HRV

I started base triathlon training about 2 months ago.  Since then, nearly every single data point has been above 90.   In several instances, my measurements were over 100.  So, I’m questioning exactly what I’m getting from this as I don’t see data similar to what I expected.  It doesn’t seem to match up to anyone else’s data either.

The daily data recorded by the application shows 3 minutes worth of Heart rate, HRV measurements, and a stress calculation (I believe this is done using the HF and LF measurements from the HRV data).  My stress is quite random, my HRV seems relatively steady, and my heart rate is typically pretty low.  However, my range of heart rate (max to min within the session) can vary quite greatly.  On average, my heart rate varies from 36-56.  So the spread is 20 beats or so normally.  There are times when the range is near 30 beats.  These are typically the days when I have worse than average workouts.  I don’t know why or that it’s necessarily always true, but it’s the only thing I’ve been able to correlate to good or bad workouts from all of this data.

I’m not ready to give up on it yet as it’s a quick and easy measurement to make, but it’s a bit sad to see that this isn’t showing me much just yet.  What I had expected to see was something more like this.

 

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Posted on April 3, 2014, in Triathlon Training, Uncategorized and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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