Thursday, January 6, 2011

HRV and Feeling Good

Once in a while... actually much of the time (might be some sort of curse), I like to 'step back' and attempt to broaden my scope of all the concepts and details of training theory and application, and simply amuse at some of the things we as coaches, trainers, therapists like to analyze. If I don't I go crazy. A recent and potentially solid measure of how training is going and the state of things within the body is heart rate variability; an increase in variability a better state of individual, a decrease... not so good.

What about just feeling good? What is feeling good? Do people know what feeling good is? Is a measure necessary; or can or should 'feeling good' be a measure? Are people out of touch with themselves? In coaching, can I not trust the athlete's judgement? Or what does feeling good look like? Can I not 'sense' the signs? Maybe therein lies the issue; disembodiment, poor teaching, poor relationships, empathy and a failure of human connection.

I know the answer is that it's good science to track and organize things that can be good indicators of health and positive states, but what's the cumulative outcome of all things functioning well? What is it? An 'artificially' isolated measure of one organ? Yes 'the heart tells the story' and 'home is where the heart is', but what do individuals cognitively make of this? My wild guess is it's some sort of emotion that is recognized as feeling good. Can it be tested? I think it can, but in most cases it might need to be subjectively measured, at least relative to an individuals normative baseline... and this can be tricky too; allostasis?

I am for measuring heart rate variability, and I think it holds some very unique possibilities. But I, or any coach, shouldn't let a lack of technology that allows to quickly and easily measure HRV hold me back from making good, better, and/or right decisions. The body leaves clues and those could be measures as well. It's just important to be consistent.

Trying to decipher all things human gets quite messy, but "waking up" and being aware is an important step in the right direction. And in athletics, for most, all that matters is performance; that's the main measure. But what to measure? Some sports are easier than others. Just find some consistancy. I pull my hair out trying to figure all this stuff out (maybe that's where it's going).

This could lead into an endless discussion on what to measure and what not... but this is nothing more; just an abstraction... on my blog. Sorry if I wasted your time... looks like I wasted mine too! LOL



jleeger said...

great post Aaron! And awesome picture! hahaha!

Sprorts psychologists measure "affect" in athletes - do they like their training or not, and how is it influencing their behavior?

But this, again, is just another variable. Another number to count.

Science, sadly, has turned away from the sort of science you do in your job every day - the empirical observation of individuals, to determine what's best for them in the moment.

This is the "art" of science, which we lost as a culture in the early 1900's.

It is also, I think, why Nobel recipients are typically in their 40's - it takes that long to develop "expertise" at the "art" of science.

So, keep up the good work!

Anonymous said...

"But I, or any coach, shouldn't let a lack of technology that allows to quickly and easily measure HRV hold me back from making good, better, and/or right decisions."

Hey Aaron,

Found my way to your blog via Elite Track (and I also follow Patrick Ward). I have been doing daily HRV measurements using a Suunto T6d watch and software from Firstbeat and Kubios with good success (I have about $300) in my "system".

I look forward to reading more.