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Blog, Recovery, Training, Triathlon

In two of my previous posts I have talked about the importance of recovery and how to use HRV to measure your fatigue and your level of recovery. I want to expand on this topic a little bit more as I think it’s really important when it comes to endurance training.

A while ago I came across the website RestwiseTheir mission is to provide athletes a tool to increase their performance through intelligent recovery. That caught my attention and I decided to give it a try to see what it is all about. As it says on their website…

Using evidence-based research, rigorously-tested variable weightings and a proprietary algorithm, Restwise has defined a patent-pending solution to the question that plagues every athlete: “am I training too hard… or not hard enough?” Make better training decisions, and do so with confidence

As athletes we should all understand the importance of recovery but even this understanding makes it really difficult to strike the right balance between recovery and training. What is the right dose of training and recovery? Am I training too much and have too little recovery? Or do I have too much recovery and don’t get any fitter, stronger or faster? These are all interesting questions that we ask ourselves quite often during our training.

What I found out is that we all love to track our training progress, as we do on training platforms such as training peaks. These are great tools and help to plan and structure your training but in my opinion it doesn’t give you much capabilities and insights to monitor and track your recovery levels. It doesn’t factor in things such as

  • Sleep time and quality
  • Resting heart rate
  • HRV
  • SP02
  • Weight
  • Your energy levels, your mood state, your appetite, muscle soreness, injuries etc…

That’s where a tool such as Restwise becomes really interesting as it’s trying to close that gap between monitoring Training + Recovery. Their solution is quite simple but effective

  • They identify the research-based markers that relate to recovery and over training
  • They determine their relative importance and build an algorithm which puts all the data together in a way that the resulting calculation is meaningful
  • They wrap it into a web-based tool that doesn’t require a PhD to understand and make it accessible for athletes and coaches
  • The tool generates a score that tells an athlete how prepared their body is for hard training (this is the key)

I think from an athlete perspective this is an interesting way get more insights into your training adaptations but I reckon the real benefit here is for coaches. They have the ability to track the recovery levels across all their athletes and see how “ready” they are for training! They can use that data to design and adjust the training plan accordingly to maximise the training outcome for their athletes. That way they can make sure their athletes are fully recovered come race day to perform at their best. For individual coached athletes this could be helpful to decide it a hard training session should be skipped or changed to an easier session to limit the risk of injury, over training and more fatigue.

So how do you get started using Restwise. It’s pretty simple. You need to subscribe to one of their plans they offer on their website. They provide a 30 days free trial and then you can continue on a 12/6 or month by month subscription. It’s $19 per month but you get it cheaper if you buy a 12 months subscription for $149.

To get the full benefit out of Restwise you should also invest in a pulse oximeter ($20 on Amazon). Unfortunately Restwise does not use HRV in their algorithm at this stage. Based on the information on their website this will be included soon. Despite that missing feature I still use HRV on a daily basis as it is still one of the best measurement tools for your fatigue level in my opinion. You can still enter and track your HRV scores on Restwise. For more information on HRV check out my blog article here

Once you have a subscription you can download the Restwise app for your smartphone. I usually check my Resting HR, SP02, HRV, Sleep time & quality after I get up. I try to do it first thing in the morning to have consistent data over a longer time. You then have to enter the data into the app (you can also do it on their website if you prefer). It will ask you a few questions that you need to answer

  • Resting heart rate
  • SP02 (Oxygen saturation level)
  • Weight
  • Hours slept
  • How well did you sleep
  • Energy level today
  • Mood state today
  • Yesterday’s training performance
  • Your appetite
  • Do you have any sore throat, headache or other illness
  • Do you have muscle soreness
  • Any injuries that are affecting your training
  • Urine shade

Once you enter all the data (be very honest here with yourself when answering the questions) you can upload them and Restwise will provide you with a test score and some recommendations in regards to your training. If you have the coach subscription you will be able to add all your athletes to your profile to track their results. That’s a pretty handy tool for a coach in my opinion.
restwise1

restwise2

If your coach is not using Restwise but is tracking your training on training peaks, you can upload your results to your training profile. That way your coach can analyse your results and make recommendations in regards to your training. Very handy indeed.

Wrap up

I personally have mixed feelings when it comes to using the tool. I use it at the moment and find it interesting but it might be an overkill for some of us.

Ok, from an individual perspective, I think it’s interesting for self quantification. You get feedback on how your body responds to training load. It can help to prevent over or under training if you are honest with yourself and the information you put in. Obviously it’s easy to fake your results (oh I had a shitty sleep tonight and feel sore this morning but I still want to have a good recovery score so that I don’t have an excuse to miss my training session today and slack off). Again, this tool relies heavily on your input, so if you cheat and fake your answers the results are pretty much useless.

In my opinion Restwise is a very interesting tool when it comes to tracking athletic performance and recovery. I think it is mainly targeted for professional athletes and sport teams, rather than the recreational amateur athletes. Saying that I still think there can be some benefits for high performing age group athletes. Especially if they are coached or on a specific training program and aiming to optimise their performance and get the most out of their training investment. I think the real benefit comes in for a coach, who needs to design training plans an track the progress and development of these athletes. Using this data could help to adjust training load, volume and intensity for individual sessions based on the recovery level of each athlete.

If you are a high performing age group athlete and love to analyse data, this might be something for you. There are some good videos on the Restwise website that are worth checking out. I have posted them underneath in case you are interested.

For Athletes

For Coaches

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Triathlon

My last season ended with racing at the IRONMAN 70.3 World Champs in Zell am See in Austria! What an amazing experience and a great way to finish off my first season of long course triathlon racing,

Overall it has been a fantastic year of training, racing and learning. After my big set back in February 2014, when I was hit by a car that left me with a broken shoulder and out of training for almost 6 months, I have worked my way back through hard and consistent training! Considering the circumstances I am more than happy with my achievements and the progress I have made so far. I also know there is plenty of room to improve and work on.

As I have progressed through the year I have learned a lot about myself, my body and how to connect with it to unlock your potential. Although I haven’t found the perfect approach yet,  I am surprised of what we are capable of doing and what mental boundaries and challenges we face. I think one of the most important things I have learned last season is the importance of the mental aspect in the sport of triathlon. As it is well know, mental strength is as important as physical strength when it comes to endurance sports.

Before you go into a race you set expectations and goals (usually a target race time or ranking). I think it is important to have specific goals when it comes to triathlons or life in general. On the one hand a goal can be a driving force that motivates and keeps you focused and on track. On the other hand a goal or expectation can also limit you or work against you during a race when things don’t go according to plan and you need to rethink and adjust your mindset.

When I was racing at the World Champs I faced that situation. I went into the race with high expectations of what I wanted to achieve. And I was well on track until the last part of the race – the crucial run that makes the difference. Until this point I felt really good, despite the though conditions on that day. I had no major problems but as soon as I started my run I knew immediately that it’s not going to work out as planned. That was a massive hit on my confidence, I lost trust in my capabilities, was mentally stressed and started to develop negative thoughts. The pain, tiredness, heavy legs, the heat all the negative things hit on me. I wasn’t mentally ready to deal with that and overcome these doubts and stay in the moment and develop positive thoughts!
My reaction at that point was, ” OK that’s it, your race is over, you can’t reach your goal, now just finish the run and get on with it. You at least own this to your supporters”

Pete Jacobs once wrote the following: “If you are putting expectations on yourself and during the race you don’t feel you are achieving them, there is only one way you’ll go, and that’s backwards. Staying mentally strong during a race means a clear mind free from stress, and that’s what keeps your body functioning at its best”. 

I think that’s exactly what I experienced. My mind wasn’t clear, I wasn’t in the moment and too stressed about my expectations. I am a big believer that only a clear and focused mind will allow you to perform at your very best!
After my initial disappointment, I am now very glad that I could experience that situation, I will learn from it, grow stronger and will deal with it in a better way the next time. If I face a similar situation (and I am pretty sure I will at some point) I hope that I am prepared to react in a better way.

So I am looking ahead to a very exciting next season. After a short break, I will settle my mind for the next goal, which is IRONMAN Austria in June 2016. I guess racing an Ironman distance will require even more mental focus and the right mindset to master such a race. I am very excited to take on this journey. I had a great last 12 months, with a lot of highs, great moments and important lessons learned. I can’t wait to get on my next journey, full of excitement of what is ahead of me. Keep an eye on my journal to find out more about my preparation for this race.

Be present in the moment, be mindful, relaxed and focused.

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