A new triathlete on a bulletin board I monitor was all up his ass because his recovery measurement said this, or his coach said that. HRV data this. My $250 per month coach told me that. This is what I wrote:
Wiitago, take it from a person that has helped a lot of triathletes over my 20+ years of doing crazy endurance sports, don’t get caught up in the “my plan” says I have to do X, Y and Z, therefore I’m going to do X, Y and Z come hell or high water. It will not end well for you. Understand that there is a different between missing a workout because you were too lazy or hungover and missing a workout because your bio-metric markers are showing you should miss a workout and you feel like crap.
And missing a scheduled day of training because you are fatigued does not “throw your whole schedule off”. You miss a day, period. If it’s a ride, you ride one less time that week and you move on. Redoing an entire week of a training plan because you had to miss a day for whatever reason is what super anal people do because of how we are wired and not because it is the intelligent thing to do.
You are right, don’t over think this. Take your HRV during a couple of weeks of normal training. Make sure you are taking it with something that gives valid results. There are a lot of crap measurement devices out there. After at least two instances of doing both an easy week and a hard week you should be able to understand how your HRV works for you. Then start going by it. I don’t coach people because I think it is a fool’s errand for the athletes. Today’s “triathlon coaches” are akin to the “Personal Trainers” you see at major gyms . . . they have very, very little knowledge outside of the weekend-long USAT Level I Certification class they went to. They provide a one sized fits all workout plan they downloaded from Training Peaks or something. They do very little actual analytical work with their athletes. More and more triathletes are following these types of plans right into the gutter.
I’ve done what I’m about to write with probably 30 athletes that couldn’t figure out why their $250 per month training plan were making them go slower. Come up with a weekly schedule that works for you first and foremost. Every Monday I swim and run. Tuesday I ride easy. Saturday is a long. Etc. Make the weekly schedule around your life, not your life around the schedule. Repeat it, repeat it, repeat it. Don’t get caught up with all this periodization crap that tells you in April you will do a building block even if your body is not ready for it, or you are ahead of schedule and you should have started “getting after it” weeks ago. Train by feel and by using a couple of measured markers, HRV being one of the major ones. Vary your intensities between very aerobic and very, very hard but do it based on how you feel, not what the schedule says. If your HRV is depressed for three days, do all aerobic sessions for a few days or rest. If it is high and you wake up feeling good, bust out a crazy HIITs workout even if you were suppose to run easy that day. I don’t know when or why we got away from exercising based on what our body is telling us. Oh wait, I do. It’s when all these computer-based training plans got popular and common sense fell by the roadside.
It’s like Days of Thunder (I might be dating myself). “His way . . . my way!” I could take two athletes, equal in ability and dedication. One would follow “their coach’s plan” and mine would follow how they feel. I would bet that 7 out of 10 times my “feel” athletes would be going faster, feel better, be less injured AND spend more time training because of the aforementioned things.