Monday, April 17, 2017

What I Track and Why

Data collection is the thing in sports at the moment and for good reason.

Without data how do you know what's working and how much it is actually working for you?

What trends are you finding with specific volumes and intensities of training?

Could you redo your program a little to make things more economical?

Without data you will never know.

What this leads to is players and coaches simply rehashing old training idea's from years gone by, probably things you've already done that seemed to garner success , but for reasons you probably don't know.

How you get a certain result is just as, if not more important then what result you actually get.

Today I'll take you into my world a little bit to show what I track and why.


All my training is logged in an excel spreadsheet each footy season.

I have a spreadsheet right now that has a sheet each for 2013 through to this year 2017.

I can look back at old phases of training and find the successful one's, then have a play with it to see if I can tweak some further improvements out of it.

If I need some benchmarks then I can also look back and see what I've lifted for what load and volume for specific exercises.

All training sessions are logged into the spreadsheet whether it be gym, sprints, running or footy training - easy, medium or hard sessions.

They are all there.


It wasn't until 2015 sometime that I started testing my HRV daily and logging it into my spreadsheet.

The reason for this was to see how certain workouts affected me in the days after it.

I've written about the high/low system before and this is perfect for showing why it's a great idea to implement as an athlete at any level.

Here's how my daily readiness last Saturday looked:

Sat Round 1 -

* Resting heart rate x 63

* rMSSD score x 28 - is a second HRV score more then anything which is what some other HRV app's go off

* Daily HRV Points x 6.8 - my readiness for this day specifically

* 7 day HRV Points Average x 6.8 - the average of your last 7 days HRV readiness which looks at chronic type fatigue

I take my readings via iphone during one of my 2 snoozes I have in the morning which takes literally 1min, and it provides me all those readings above all at once.

After that the reading it takes you to a 10sec daily survey for you to put in your training info plus some personal stuff like motivation, sleep quality, diet etc and then it provides you with your HRV score for that day and an updated 7 day average.

Here's an 11 day stretch from last year (the first number - 8, 9 etc - is simply the 8th of April):

8/63/28...6.8/6.8 - GAME DAY
9/62//29...6.9/6.9 - SORER THEN I THOUGHT I WOULD BE
10/58/64...8.1/7.1 - LOW TRAINING DAY
12/87/17...6.2/6.9 - SICK...NO TRAINING
13/98/15...6.0/6.9 - SICK...NO TRAINING
16/58/22...6.5/6.8 - DAY OFF
17/63/23...6.6/6.6 - HIGH TRAINING DAY
18/59/35...7.2/6.6 - LOW TRAINING DAY

I don't usually put the small notes in my log, it's a bloody good idea to though, but I did at this for this stretch as I had some extremely rare sickness mid-week as you can see above.

The reason you get sick is not really because you've caught something, we catch stuff every single day, bit it's when you're immunity is down and you can't counteract it, is when and why we get sick.

I wasn't feeling overly fresh for footy on the 8th as I did a lower body training session on the Friday which wasn't huge or anything but it had to be done - that would have been classified as a high day in the High/Low system and you would usually do a low day the day after a high day but I played footy so that may have started my downfall.

You can also see that my HRV was low-ish on Sat (mid 7's seems about perfect for me) which can indicate that I haven't fully recovered from not just yesterday's training, but my training from earlier during the week.

It seemed that I bounced back from the weekend come Monday with an 8.1 HRV but a high score isn't always good which is why the average HRV reading is handy. 

A reading that's too high can be just as bad as a reading that is too low because as always, it's all about balance.

I started to feel a little bit more tired Tuesday evening at work then normal and once I got home and settled in, I felt it coming on and wondered what the morning might bring.

My constant tossing and turning during the night let me know pretty early on what was going to happen and I was knackered for 2 days where I went to work in the morning, slept or laid on the couch doing absolutely nothing for 9hrs, then went back to work to go back to bed again.

I'm very good at doing nothing when I need to be which always helps me recover quite fast from these things.

My RHR and HRV on Wednesday was super high but you can see it improving each day after.

I had a sprint session planned with one of my Women Footballers for Saturday so I was gunning for that day to be back on track, and it's always better to do a 'lead in" session before a big session because like a car or a horse, you can't just go from nothing to world champion without a few warm up laps under your belt.  

Friday I did a very easy recovery session, just to get a light sweat for about 20mins focusing on aerobic capacity so 50 - 60% (far closer to 50).

Saturday you can see my HRV was mid 7's which is "my spot" so I could go as hard as I can although my times weren't great from the lay off.


Often you can find trends occurring which can lead to things like sickness and injury before they actually happen from your daily scores.

As mentioned in the video above I've completed about 170 training sessions since September last year which is a lot but they have followed a loose high/low system as also mentioned earlier, so not everyday is a world record attempt (not should it be).
I've trained 6 days a week pretty much every week, I'm 38 (old), have a disabled wife, a 6yr old son who never stops and the studio which always touch and go so there's a lot of stress, physical and mental, on my plate at all times.

About a month ago I noticed that my 7 day HRV average was dropping each and everyday and it did so for 20 days straight.

I knew something was happening that could end in tears so I scaled my training back a little taking some or all of the small rocks out of the my training to decrease the training volume on my tired body.

Every year for about 3 years, before this one, at some point in February or March, I've had a lower back blow out for no physical reason.

I did it by power cleaning a moderate load, I did it running and I did it doing some core work for memory - all things I can do very easily.

But if there's 1 thing we should all get out of this blog post it's this from David Dellanave - the reason we get injured at training or in competition is because we applied a level of stress that the body couldn't handle at that exact point in time and regardless of your training and prevention work, it can be totally out of your control - unless you have some data to go off.

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