I think I have asked this question before, but let’s not dwell on that.
I’d like to point out that as a coach I am extremely sensitive to any sign of overtraining in my athletes. I build in rest and recovery. Because it is during that rest and recovery that our bodies can repair the damage done during training and become stronger. Simply put: Training stress + recovery = stronger athlete. Training stress – recovery = broken athlete. Unfortunately, as an athlete, I seem to be able to ignore the flashing red warning signs completely.
If I knew how to tweet, I could start #whyicannotcoachmyself.
I was working out with a CrossFit coach in November and he mentioned the Whoop. Whoop? I’d never heard of it, but after researching it for about 10 seconds I decided I had nothing to lose. I was desperate not to go back to the black hole I was in for October and November.
Whoop is a wrist based 24/7 wearable with a terrific app that delivers a daily verdict on your training and recovery. Whoop measures strain from training & daily activity, sleep quality & quantity, heart rate variability and resting heart rate. Then it gives you a recovery score from 0-100%.
0-33% is RED = STOP
34-66% is YELLOW = PROCEED WITH CAUTION
67-100% is GREEN = GO FOR IT
While I know a piece of wearable technology cannot actually save me from myself, I am hoping it will provide the data I need to convince me to rest BEFORE I enter the overtraining void.
It is a definitely work in progress, but so far I am impressed. Whoop is extremely comprehensive, unlike my 1x daily HRV measurement tools. More importantly, it has been correlating very well with how I feel. Since I don’t usually listen to my body, it gives me the hard data to take how I feel seriously. At least that’s the plan.
I say it is a work in progress because this past week I saw a drastic downward trend in my recovery. This told me I should have stopped earlier, before I hit the red light(s) but since I was already planning to take Friday, Saturday, possibly Sunday as recovery, I pushed a few days too far. I think it is best illustrated with the data:
December 31-January 6: I’m feeling really good, I’m able to handle significant training stress. I even take a planned day off (Friday). In general, I’m getting high marks from Whoop.
January 7 – January 13: I’m still feeling great, I’m pushing my body but I’m starting to take it a bit too far. Feeding the addiction! I take an easy day but not easy enough. By the end of the week, I believe Whoop was trying to tell me something.
January 14 – January 20: I’ve got planned recovery at the end of the week, we get fresh snow, I have plans to train with people. The excuses are plentiful. In my defense, when Monday’s score came up, I did skip CrossFit and take it easy that day. I slept well and was rewarded with a green light on Tuesday. Clearly that was just a blip and I should have seen as much. I pushed through Wednesday and Thursday (powder day!), when Whoop was clearly telling me I was over-reaching and it was time for recovery. Over-reaching is ok, good even, as long as a) you recover in time and b) you don’t go too far into over-training. I think the translation of the Whoop-ese here would be “Hey dumb-ass, stop already”.
Friday, Saturday and Sunday have been complete rest days, with easy dog walks as my only “training”. Perhaps if I had taken more rest earlier, I would not have seen so much red. That’s my goal next time once I get recovered enough to train again this week (hopefully).
Even though it IS still a work in progress, Whoop is by far the best recovery tool I have used. I think it will be extremely useful once I learn how to pay attention to the trends. It’s a bit of a game – in a good way – and now I want to see green and yellow, with no red.
Even if you don’t tend to over-train, Whoop provides extremely valuable data that any athlete can use. It measures everything, not just the strain from training. Because everyday life activity, sleep, and how your heart is responding are valuable inputs to determine your training status.
If anyone out there is interested in trying Whoop (you have to commit to 6 months, but after that you can quit if it is not for you), drop me a line at firstname.lastname@example.org. I can refer you via your email address and you will receive $30 off. And I receive a free month, so this is not just me being altruistic.