Am I just feeling lazy or mentally tired and breaking a sweat will give me the boost I need? Or am I really strained and training will make it worse?
We’ve been saying this a lot but we’ll say it again: It’s key to listen to your body.
But, sometimes it’s easier said than done. If you train too much for too long, you may end up in a state of overtraining where fatigue becomes the new normal and you lose the ability to listen to the signals your body is giving you. That’s when it’s good to have data to guide you back to the right path.
We asked Daniela Schäfer Olstad, Senior Researcher, PhD, at Polar, how the new Recovery Pro feature for the Vantage series helps you monitor your recovery status as a whole – not just how you recover from training but also how other factors add to your overall stress levels.
After all, we are not only physical beings – our minds our linked to our bodies and vice versa.
What to know about recovery
For training to be effective and progressive, you need to train hard enough and often enough. On the other hand, you lose the benefits if you train too much.
Without sufficient recovery, you won’t get results or more precisely, your improvement won’t correlate with how much more you train. To improve your performance, you need to recover in between workouts.
The tricky part is that there isn’t a general formula applicable in every situation that you can use to estimate your recovery time based on the duration, frequency or intensity of training. The time you need to recover properly is individual and different for everyone. John may need more time to recover from the same amount and intensity of training than Jim.
Moreover, recovery time varies not only between different people but also according to your current situation.
For example, you may need a shorter recovery time when you’re on a vacation and feeling relaxed without a care in the world. When you’re exposed to high levels of stress at work or you’ve had several nights of poor sleep in a row, you may need a longer recovery time than usual.
So, bottom line, everything affects everything. That’s why we dug deep into research to understand how overall stress affects physical recovery and how overtraining affects not only the body but the mind, too. Based on the research, we developed the new Recovery Pro feature that introduces a more holistic approach to monitoring and interpreting recovery.
How to optimize recovery
Previously, the Recovery Status was estimated based on training load and physical activity but as our mind affects the body, too, we need to consider other than just physical factors when we assess our recovery level.
That’s why the new Recovery Pro considers not only the strain from training and physical activity, but also stress caused by other factors, such as mental stress, sleep deprivation, altitude or heat exposure and nutrition.
Even though it’s sometimes good to live in the moment, when it comes to recovery, knowing your daily status isn’t enough. In addition to feedback on how recovered your cardio system is today, the Recovery Pro will give you feedback on how balanced your training load and recovery are in the long-term.
The Recovery Pro will tell you whether you’ve been training too much, too little or just right recently and recognize when you’ve had too much stress from something else than training.
Based on this information, you’ll get personalized training advice so that you can do your key training sessions at the right time and find the ideal amount of training for you to perform at your best.
How to use Recovery Pro
Do the Orthostatic Test with your Polar Vantage V (using Polar H10 chest strap) as often as possible to measure your daily cardio recovery level, ideally every day or at least before key training sessions. ￼
To make sure that your results are as reliable as possible, you need to perform the test in similar conditions every time – we recommend that you take the test in the morning before breakfast.
To get long-term feedback, you’ll need to take the orthostatic test and answer three mood questions at least three times a week to assess how recovered you feel. Just like Training Load Pro, the new Recovery Status also includes your Perceived Recovery Status that considers your subjective feeling.
Isn’t training load enough?
By monitoring your training load, you’ll see how straining your training is for your body and whether you’ve been detraining, maintaining your current level, making progress or overreaching. This feedback is based on your training history only and doesn’t take into account what goes on in your life and body outside of training.
Recovery Pro takes your training load data and combines your physical exertion level with other stress factors in your life. Based on this holistic view, the long-term recovery feedback tells you whether you should keep doing what you’ve been doing, push harder or take it easier.
Everyone reacts differently to training, even at the pro level. That’s why you need to measure how well you can tolerate training and how recovered you really are, also considering the factors outside of training that affect your daily situation. How you tolerate training can vary day by day and what was a walk in the park yesterday, can feel like an ultra-marathon today – and an all-out effort is not the way to go if you’re in desperate need of recovery.
Know when it’s better to give it a little less than all you’ve got – it’s not weakness, it’s wisdom!