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Using our resting heart rate (RHR) to assess our training and recovery level

With all the new technology, we can constantly monitor our heart rate during training. We know the importance of not going over our maximum heart rate for too long, to keep our body, and training performance balanced and healthy. We should only push through our maximum heart rate (MHR) for a few minutes at a time. When you are most rested, your heart beats at its slowest rate (RHR), which is a good guide to your overall fitness level. In general, the lower your RHR, the fitter you are. Another excellent indicator of your fitness level and health is how quickly your heart rate recovers after your training session or a race. After you finish running or training, your heart rate should reduce a lot during the first minute, then it enters the “resting plateau” where it reduces more slowly for the next 30 minutes. The reduction of your heart rate during the first minute after training is your heart rate recovery (HRR).

Factors that affect your heart rate:



Fatigue, over-training

Not enough sleep

Poor hydration

Using our resting heart rate is a great tool to assess how our body is adapting to our training, intensity level, long-distance races and recovery. Runners can measure their resting heart rate over time to monitor and assess their increase in fitness levels during long endurance training sessions, and to track when they might be overtraining or not properly recovering after hard training sessions or ultra-races. Monitor your RHR for 3-7 days after intense training and ultra-races. If it’s elevated more than 7 beats/min from its normal average, that means that you are not fully recovered and your body is experiencing excessive training fatigue.

You can also use this daily data to identify long-term trends. If your RHR is steadily increasing over a few weeks period, it is probably due to over-training, not enough recovery time between training sessions. To lower your RHR due to over-training, you need to add a lower intensity training week to your schedule and make sure you get 7-8 hours of sleep. On the other hand, if you see your RHR slowly go down, that means your fitness level is increasing.

This is one of the easiest and very accurate way to record your heart rate without even using any heart rate monitor. This strategy of recording your resting heart rate will help you identify one of the major signs of overtraining according to your current performance level, using just one minute a day.

Way to measure you RHR, not using any technology: All you need is a plain digital watch, notebook and pen next to your bed. As soon as you wake up on the morning, before you start moving, find your pulse on your neck (just under your chin), or on your wrist. Looking at your watch, count your heart beats for 20 secs. Multiply by three and you have your resting heart rate (RHR). Record your resting heart rate every morning for at least two-three weeks. Monitoring your RHR data will help you track your fatigue levels, how well you are adapting your training sessions and races, which will help you prevent long-term over-training, help your recover properly from ultra-races, avoid sickness and keep your body, hormone levels stable and healthy.

Train Hard, Eat Right, and Feel Great!


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