It’s obviously not always practical or possible to go to a fitness lab every week and be tested. So what can you do to get an indication of your fitness level and your current training state? Polar RS400 and RS800CX have a couple of nifty built-in tests that you can utilize to see your own level of improvement and if you are over or under training.
First off there is Polar Fitness Test and it works like this: Put on your Polar WearLink® strap and shuffle onto a nice soft couch or bed. Then, enter the Fitness Test display, press start, and just relax. Wait 5 minutes and it will give you an OwnIndex® score. This number tells you your maximal oxygen uptake (VO2max), so you know how good your fitness is. If you do the test consistently you can monitor changes over time. Polar Fitness test works by taking the heart rate variability as well as the actual resting heart rate and other individual factors into account - clever and very simple to use.You can also use the test to get a good safe estimate of your maximum heart rate. Just make sure you've set HRmax-p to On (Maximum Predicted HR).Polar Fitness test is a great tool to see if your training is having the desired effect on your fitness. A good way to do this is to monitor it on the same day each week, e.g. in the morning after a rest day. That way week to week your lead in activity and stress is similar and you'll get a better indication of changes. But, don't panic if your fitness score actually drops at the end of a hard block of training (say 2 or 3 weeks’ worth) - that’s to be expected. All it means is that you are simply tired - a good indication that you are ready for an easier week to regenerate and adapt to the training you've inflicted on yourself.
Obviously it would be nice to get a day-to-day picture of recovery and state of readiness for hard training, right? Are you ready to do that planned hard workout? Do you need another easy day before a planned hard race simulation? Well, that’s where the OwnOptimizer test from Polar can help. This test works by seeing what impact the recent training load has had on the body by gauging the nervous system's control of the heart. The test checks to see how the nervous system controls the heart in response to different loads placed on it; in this case it’s simply lying down and standing up.OwnOptimizer advises you about what state you are CURRENTLY in. There are nine states ranging from Good Recovery to Parasympathetic overtraining, and with each state you can get an idea about what to consider for your upcoming training.If you were training for a marathon and did the test the day after the first really big run, what you could expect to see would be either 6-Hard Training or 7-Overreaching. You should then look at your plan and see that you have a light day of training planned (say a 35min Zone 1-2 Flat Run) and figure that this should be fine.If you then test again the next morning and see 1-Good recovery then you know that you are ready for another good workout. If you still see a 6 or a 7, you know you haven't fully recovered and that you probably still need another easier day before you get going. You should then recheck the following day just to be sure, and maybe also have a look at the upcoming week and consider making changes to accommodate an extra easy day or two.Over time you'll learn to modify the weeks based on these changes. Of course this is what experienced runners and their coaches do. They just are able to make these subjective calls based on years and years of training. Sometimes objective feedback like this can help you make the best decisions.Now, everyday runners can take advantage of these features in the RS400 / RS800CX and get quality objective feedback – it’s like having a coach on your wrist.