This is a guest blog by Jim House covering the past 2 years of his personal experience using HRV4Training and HRV Logger
I have been riding a mountain bike for about 30 years. I am now 62 years old and just retired and have been diagnosed with leukaemia.
Rather than sitting around feeling sorry for myself I thought I needed a challenge. I live near Eastbourne in the UK and decided I would ride the South Downs Way, which is 102 miles long (90% off road), including 11000ft of climbing.
I have had successes and failures in my training so I have called this blog The Good, The Bad and The Ugly and I hope you can gain something from my experiences.
Jim and his playground
My approach in the past hasn’t always been very structured, but for this challenge, I decided to do it a bit differently. In early 2020 I started using HRV4Training and got myself a training plan.
From the HRV4Training screenshot below you can see just how useful the feedback was to know when to push and when to have a day off, and also the desired effect of adjusting training this way, which resulted in a stable and consistent HRV, never below my optimal range as shown in HRV4Training Pro.
The first 9 months of HRV monitoring showed consistently stable responses as I adjusted my training based on HRV4Training's feedback
In September I did a three day ride in Wales, where it rained (horizontally) and was very cold. I went completely unprepared and caught a bad chill. My HRV trace below shows how things went downhill in early October.
Then in a quite bizarre incident, I was bitten on the leg by a dog, on October 6th. I went to the hospital and was given antibiotics and released back home. Three days later things were beginning to smell (my leg) and I was urgently admitted to the hospital with full blown sepsis. I was put into intravenous antibiotics and you can see from my HRV plot what a huge effect this was having on my body.
Despite being drugged up on morphine I somehow had the presence of mind to keep taking my HRV readings in the morning.
Physiological response (HRV) to a cold (early October), a dog bite and resulting sepsis and antibiotics treatment. Then bouncing back and falling again due to restarting training too soon, which I eventually gave up on, to allow my body to fully recover.
I was eventually released from the hospital and finished the antibiotic course and you can then see the immediate rebound in my HRV. I then tried to start training again, but was physically exhausted. My HRV would bounce back but then fall again immediately with more sustained training. I had no option but to stop and rest from November to January, doing some very light rowing. Looking back it was probably a mental as well as physical reaction because it suddenly brought home to me just how compromised my immune system was at that time.
By early March I was desperate to start doing physical activity again, just to release the frustration I was holding and to get out into the open air again. At this point the HRV Logger for Android was just released, and I learnt a bit more about heart rate zones and thresholds, wondering if I was wrong with my aerobic threshold and was trying to restart my training at too high an intensity earlier on.
I started playing around with the HRV Logger to better assess training intensity and lo and behold my alpha 1 readings indicated an aerobic threshold of around 110 bpm, while I was previously assuming it was around 130 bpm.
I then started doing really low intensity rides and rowing to try and build up some stamina. You can see from my HRV trace in March and April that I was finally improving, but less stable than it used to be, due to combined physical and emotional stress.
Then I got carried away and started entering events again, which resulted in being very tired after events and my HRV shows this perfectly, with prolonged periods below my normal, which I never experienced in the previous year.
In the past 6 months, it has been much harder to maintain a stable physiological response, due to both emotional and physical stressors.
Despite the difficulties I have experienced, resulting from various stressors as well as health issues, I hope this helps demonstrate just how useful HRV4Training has been for me as part of my training programme.
Using the app has helped me identify what I am doing well and not so well so that I can slowly get a grip of things. Writing this has helped me as well because it makes it very clear what is going on. I would like to thank Marco and his team for the great HRV4Training and HRV Logger apps and all their blogs, insight and inspiration. They have helped me through some pretty dark times over the last few months.
p.s. don’t get bitten by a dog!
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This blog is curated by
Marco Altini, founder of HRV4Training
The Ultimate Guide to HRV
1: Measurement setup
2: Interpreting your data
3: Case studies and practical examples
1. Intro to HRV
2. How to use HRV, the basics
3. HRV guided training
4. HRV and training load
5. HRV, strength & power
6. Overview in HRV4Training Pro
7. HRV in team sports
1. Context & Time of the Day
3. Paced breathing
4. Orthostatic Test
5. Slides HRV overview
6. Normal values and historical data
7. HRV features
1a. Acute Changes in HRV
1b. Acute Changes in HRV (population level)
1c. Acute Changes in HRV & measurement consistency
1d. Acute Changes in HRV in endurance and power sports
2a. Interpreting HRV Trends
2b. HRV Baseline Trends & CV
3. Tags & Correlations
4. Ectopic beats & motion artifacts
5. HRV4Training Insights
6. HRV4Training & Sports Science
7. HRV & fitness / training load
8. HRV & performance
9. VO2max models
10. Repeated HRV measurements
11. VO2max and performance
12. HR, HRV and performance
13. Training intensity & performance
14. Publication: VO2max & running performance
15. Estimating running performance
16. Coefficient of Variation
17. More on CV and the big picture
18. Case study marathon training
19. Case study injury and lifestyle stress
20. HRV and menstrual cycle
21. Cardiac decoupling
22. FTP, lactate threshold, half and full marathon time estimates
23. Training Monotony
Camera & Sensors
1. ECG vs Polar & Mio Alpha
2a. Camera vs Polar
2b. Camera vs Polar iOS10
2c. iPhone 7+ vs Polar
2d. Comparison of PPG sensors
3. Camera measurement guidelines
4. Validation paper
5. Android camera vs Chest strap
6. Scosche Rhythm24
7. Apple Watch
9. Samsung Galaxy
1. Features and Recovery Points
2. Daily advice
3. HRV4Training insights
4. Sleep tracking
5. Training load analysis
6a. Integration with Strava
6b. Integration with TrainingPeaks
6c. Integration with SportTracks
6d. Integration with Genetrainer
6e. Integration with Apple Health
6f. Integration with Todays Plan
7. Acute HRV changes by sport
8. Remote tags in HRV4T Coach
9. VO2max Estimation
10. Acute stressors analysis
11. Training Polarization
12. Lactate Threshold Estimation
13. Functional Threshold Power(FTP) Estimation for cyclists
14. Aerobic Endurance analysis
15. Intervals Analysis
16. Training Planning
17. Integration with Oura
18. Aerobic efficiency and cardiac decoupling
1. HRV normal values
2. HRV normalization by HR
3. HRV 101