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Monitoring Your Recovery

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January 17, 2012 by peakcentre

Ed McNeely

Training without monitoring your progress is like driving with your eyes closed, you will get somewhere but you can’t be sure where or what shape you’ll be in when you arrive. Through daily monitoring you will be able to make the fine adjustments to your program that allow you to continue to progress and recover at the fastest rate possible.

 The Recovery Questionnaire

 The recovery questionnaire is filled out every day of the week whether there is a workout scheduled or not, you want to be able to measure the effect of a day off as well as a training day. A 2-3 week baseline should be established in the off-season when you are doing little or no training. The baseline is used to measure how far from a fully recovered state you are moving as a result of training and will be referred back to every week so keep the baseline numbers handy.

 Each of the items in table 1 are rated on a scale of 1-10, using half points as well as whole numbers. high numbers are better ratings for example a rating of 10 on quality of sleep means you had a great nights sleep, a 1 might mean you were up most of the night. The ratings are based on how you fell when you first wake up and get out of bed in the morning. Be honest with yourself, as you will use this information to adjust your program. Body weight should be measured after voiding and before breakfast so that conditions for the weigh in are standardized. Morning heart rate is measured as soon as you wake up. Keep a watch by your bedside and take a 30 second heart rate count and multiply it by two to get the number of beats per minute.

Table 1. The Recovery Questionnaire

Item Mon Tues Wed Thurs Fri Sat Sun Average Baseline
Hours of Sleep                  
Sleep Quality                  
Muscle Soreness                  
Joint Soreness                  
General Fatigue                  
Desire to Train                  
Motivation                  
Morning HR                  
Bodyweight                  

 Using the Data to Adjust The Program

 All data is compared back to the baseline established in the off-season. No single variable can assess recovery; the power of the questionnaire comes from the use of multiple variables simultaneously. If you see an increase of two points on the unshaded variables, compared to the baseline, on three or more variables two days in a row you need to take a day off or cut both the volume and intensity of the day’s training in half. If the week average of three of the unshaded items increases by three or more points you need to schedule a recovery week, even if one is not planned in the program.

 Morning heart rate and body weight are not included in the daily and weekly analysis because changes in these items are much more gradual than the other factors that are being monitored. Increases in morning heart rate of more than 10 beats per minute for a week or more should be looked at closely, if it is occurring without changes in any of the other variables it may signal a loss of aerobic fitness which may or may not affect your performance depending on the endurance demands of your sport. If the weekly average is increasing and morning heart rate is high you need to consider planning a recovery week.

 Unintentional decreases in bodyweight are one of the early signs of overtraining. Body weight can fluctuate daily because of hydration levels and what you ate and drank the previous day. Very large athletes can see their weight change by several pounds from day to day; because of this it is better to use weekly percent changes in body weight to assess your long-term weight profile. If you see a weekly-unintended weight loss of more than two percent something needs to be adjusted in training or diet. First increase fluid intake to see if you are dehydrated because of the week’s training schedule and insufficient fluid intake. If the weekly average of other variables is increasing and bodyweight is decreasing there is a good chance that you are beginning to overtrain and need to schedule a recovery week.

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