Two weeks ago I started using the RESTWISE Recovery, Science & Technology system to monitor my training intensity and my body’s need for recovery and rest. My hope was that RESTWISE would enable me to keep moving the needle forward in preparing for the race of my life in Boston on April 16th, while ensuring that I get there 100% healthy and fully recovered from my training cycle to do battle on the most storied marathon course in the world.
To PR at Boston this year I am going to have to have absolutely everything come together for me in a perfect storm of events. Training, health, focus, determination and of course a little help from the weather Gods. If all of those variables come together like I hope they will, we should be making some personal history making the final turn on Boyleston Street at just about 1:00 p.m. on Patriot’s Day.
RESTWISE was developed by an impressive team of athletes, scientists and mathematicians who were able to design a weighting system blending scientific data with the athlete’s own subjective self-analysis to produce a recovery score out of 100.
This score, and especially the trending of the score, alerts the athlete when they are running an increased risk of overtraining and/or injury.
Please click the link above for a brief description and overview of their product.
Now, on to the good stuff.
Every morning for the past two weeks I have faithfully recorded my resting hear rate, blood oxygen saturation level and weight and entered it into the RESTWISE App on my iPad. I then answered the 8 quick questions regarding my sleep pattern, energy level, mood, appetite, training performance from the previous day, whether I am ill, if I have any muscle soreness or an injury and finally my hydration level based on my “urine shade”.
What is interesting is that before using RESTWISE, I did a few of these things on my own every morning ablbeit in a much more subjective fashion. I would weigh myself and mentally calculate that vs. the previous few days. Was I dehydrated? Did I need to be more careful and perhaps take a water bottle with me on that morning’s run?
I would think about the sleep I got, how I felt and if I had any soreness or a new injury brewing.
I would evaluate those readings; assign some sort of “mental score” to it and then go for my run. If I struggled during the workout, I would chalk it up to not feeling good. If I nailed it, I would pat myself on the back and think, “man, you’re a warrior – great job”.
But never once did I think about skipping a workout or altering it in any way. Never.
I ran the workout as scheduled because as an endurance athlete – that is what we do. We overcome obstacles. We persevere when others wouldn’t. We don’t back down from challenges, we embrace them.
One of my favorite quotes that I play over and over in my mind on a tough day is the thought that:
“Somewhere out there a runner is training when you are not. When you race him, he will beat you.”
More often than not, I feel like I am that runner. Out there in the rain, wind, heat, humidity, hammering away when others would not.
That’s all fine and well, until it isn’t.
RESTWISE to me is a tool that provides me with an opportunity to check myself and my ego at the door.
By looking at a tangible, scientifically derived score from a respected recovery model – the same model Ryan Hall used to run the fastest American Marathon time in history at last year’s Boston Marathon, I can “KNOW” when I am in need of recovery, and the next, most important step is to alter my training plan to accommodate it.
If I am at 60% recovery level and need a break, I can move that morning’s hill repeat session to later in the week and just run easy – or take a day off – without feeling “GUILTY” that I caved in. That I didn’t push harder when times were tough.
I can leave those moments for “digging deep” for race courses and not feel like I have to tap into them on a training day.
Training is all about pushing your musculature and aerobic capacity to new levels, then providing recovery so those stressed muscles and systems can adapt to new levels.
Without the “recovery” stage, there is no adaptation – only a breaking down of the systems. Leading to poor performance, injury or both.
I get it now – 100%.
Time to not only be a tough athlete, but to become a smarter one as well, with those two tools in my toolbox, we might be very tough to beat as marathon season moves to triathlon season and we move up to the 45-49 year old Age Group at the end of July.
Am I really going to be 45 in July? Holy Moly.
So after two weeks, what did RESTWISE Tell us?
The screenshot below tracks my recovery level day to day, peaking at 100% on a couple of occasions (Feb. 4 and Feb. 10), spending most days in the 80% to 90% range.
What is interesting is to see the downward trend that started on February 11th and then bottomed out on February 12th – reaching a low recovery score over this period of 40%.
The green line that I chose to include in the chart (you can include as many of the variables as you would like to track in the graph) shows my training performance.
Most days it was normal or above normal, but as we reach February 11th and 12th, my performance suffers badly as my need for a recovery day increases more and more.
After taking a rest day, both my recovery score and training performance rebounded nicely.
So as we continue to move forward leveraging the RESTWISE system, I will pay more careful attention to the trend lines and try to “nip the decline” in the bud – be more flexible about shifting workouts around to accommodate my need for recovery, so that to paraphrase Ryan Hall’s philosophy:
“I will run my easy workouts easy, allowing me to run my hard workouts hard”.
Avoiding the pitfalls of overtraining, and never really being rested properly to give max effort on the days that call for it. For the first time in a long time I’m starting to think that the Boston Marathon should start feeling a little bit nervous about me on race day, and not the other way around.
Run on people.