Saturday, January 6, 2018

Overtraining and Heart Rate Variability (HRV)- Part III

Ok, you took your first and second HRV test and your reading says 6 (see above).  BTW, that's what mine said this morning.  What the hell does that mean?  If you remember, in Part I, your autonomic nervous system is made up of a sympathetic branch and a parasympathetic branch.  And, that these two branches of your nervous system were/are in constant competition. Thus the variability in your Heart Rate.  You can see the needle on the gauge is bordering on the yellow/green areas of the gauge.  That's telling me my sympathetic nervous system is winning the battle and I'm stressed.  But, how can I be stressed when my last workout was 2 days ago and it wasn't a hard workout?  It was a sweetspot workout (L3/L4) that only lasted 45 minutes.  Well, chronic stress can be caused by a lot of things in addition to a training workout.  Stress can be caused by pressure at work, inflammatory foods, relationships, sleep, financial matters, personal matters, etc. or a combination of all of them.  For me, it's been a really stressful last couple of days.  I was busy at work, I didn't sleep particularly well, and my wife and I had to take our dog to the Vet to have emergency surgery to remove a squeeky toy she ate/digested.  That alone was enough to over-stress me.  Not to mention the $7,000 bill from the Vet.

So, what now?  There's no doubt I'm suffering from Chronic it's really not a good time to be torturing my body with a hard workout.  In fact, if I did decide to do a hard workout today..on a stressed could compromise my immune system and I'd end up getting sick with a cold.  Instead, it's probably better to rest than exercise.  I would, except I get a little antsy if I go more than 3 days without working out.  So, this is a great time to do an active recovery workout.  With an active recovery workout, you're really not "building" or gaining any fitness, you're just "maintaining" it.  And, that's fine for me right now.  So, instead of my customary L3/L4 "sweetspot" workout, I'll opt for an L2/L3 workout which is an Endurance/Tempo Zone workout for active recovery.  And, because it's lower power output I can go a little longer.  Instead of a 45 minute trainer ride, I'll opt for a 1 hr. ride.  You really shouldn't go any longer than 20 minutes for an active recovery ride but I'm trying to lose a couple lbs from all the overeating and drinking over the holidays.  The key with an active recovery ride is to keep the power output low.

What's next?  Obviously, the goal is to get my HRV gauge in the middle (green section).  You do that be resting and recovering.  In addition to curtailing your normal exercise regime, it's a good time to be eating quality foods and getting plenty of sleep and drinking fluids.  If you can, it's also a good time to do some guided breathing/meditation as this will help balance the nervous system and relieve tension and make you more relaxed...moving the gauge towards the parasympathetic side.  It will be interesting to see if the needle on my gauge moves to the right in the next couple days.  I'll let you know in a future blog.  Speaking of meditation, that will be the topic/title of my next blog.  Stay tuned.  Until then, Power ON!  Coach Rob

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