Why HRV and MAF is the Key to Healthy and Fast Athletic Life
True story (this athlete will remain nameless, but she is mine): The first year I worked with her we were fighting tooth and nail over getting her to slow the F#@k down in her running (and all other aspects of her life). She almost fired me, and I almost fired her, until I really had an epiphany (well, it was really several podcasts regarding leadership) that I did NOT educate her enough, and that she needed to educate herself as well in the process if she was going to take ownership of her training.
As she was going on vacation, I suggested that she read the Primal Endurance book while driving down to Florida. This is what she related to me after her trip: “I turned to my husband and said, ‘they are writing about ME!’. She got it. Since then she has been onboard with the MAF protocol. The better news is that she hasn’t been injured this 18 months (even though she still loves to go see her favorite PT for quality time). Downside? Her MAF speed has not changed much, but we shall continue the story as to the reasons why below.
She still lives a stressful life. She’s got two great kids, a solid relationship with her husband, and she is in a high leadership position in her business life. Can we say #stressonstressonstress? This is what she wrote to me this week, and I wanted to share this with everyone because we all have been in this position at one time or another in our lives.
“So when you’re done being pissed at me for not telling you all this as it happened, I think you’ll find this slightly gratifying.I’m not sure if I ever told you about how a number of years ago after doing the Kinetic half on a Saturday and the Columbia Oly 8 days later (May), I experienced a weird irregular heartbeat starting a couple of hours after the race. It came fairly routinely on and off for a number of months. When I finally went to the cardiologist in August, it had stopped. They ran a number of tests and couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary and weren’t worried.It didn’t happen again regularly for a number of years. Late this summer it started on and off a little bit more regularly. I still wasn’t that concerned because it never gets worse with exercise, I never have any other symptoms like dizziness, cold sweats or loss of breath. While I wasn’t too worried, I figured maybe I should actually have it checked out. So, Friday I went to the cardiologist. Obtw, none of this has anything to do with the workouts I’ve been missing, those are just plain and simple time prioritization problems.Bottom line up front he’s running a bunch of tests just to make sure, but he’s not worried either. He thinks it’s a combination of lack of sleep, caffeine and dehydration that my body is particularly susceptible to and causes an irregular heartbeat.The reason I think you’ll find this gratifying is I was very honest with him and told him my history of running at super-high heart rates like over a hundred eighty for an entire 5K and he was so totally not impressed. I managed to talk him down off of the wall by telling him how I had this great coach who’d been having me (much to my chagrin) run at low heart rates for the last couple years. He is totally in your corner. He believes that running routinely at high heart rates causes long-term damage to otherwise heart healthy athletes. So there you have it. I guess it’s official, my (albeit reduced from before) whining is going to have to cease. I will however keep you informed on what he says. “How many of you operate on less than 7 hours of sleep a night, and think you’re getting away with it?How many of you are drinking way to many beers (can we say inflammation?) during the week to celebrate surviving the day?How many of you are always trying to push the envelope thinking that this will ‘only make me faster’?How many of you work more than 40 hours a week, and is it an easy job or is it a higher stress job?How many of you have little kids at home?How many of you have a supportive spouse? As the non-supportive creates even more stress (and this is a totally different discussion).How many of you keep track of your HRV daily?How many of you listen to the HRV if it tells you to take the DAY OFF?How many of you train when you have a cold (and the HRV says back off?)?How many of you drink more than 2 cups of coffee a day?How many of you drink less than 60 oz of fluid a day, and skip the electrolytes?These are ALL THINGS UNDER YOUR CONTROL! You can become the better athlete, better parent, better and more productive employee/spouse by taking care of yourself.SO WHY DON’T YOU? Why don’t you take care of YOURSELF?Slow down. Take your HRV daily. Skip the alcohol as much as possible. Eat as clean as possible. Get more sleep.