Ronda Collier: HRV for Better Training, Managing Fatigue and Preventing Burnout

June 12, 2015

1024x1024Hum2ColorEmbossOnRedICONRonda Collier, CEO of SweetWater Health, the makers of the SweetBeatLife heart rate variability (HRV) app, returns to the podcast to talk in detail about the applications of HRV for your endurance training, racing, recovery and fatigue management. These concepts are useful for both coaches and athletes.

We last talked to Ronda in fall 2013 about the basics of HRV, and you can hear that show here. We’d advise you to listen to that show first for a general education on HRV if you’re not that familiar with it – this show goes much deeper.

Get started with the SweetBeatLife app, which is the HRV app of choice for the entire Endurance Planet team!

On this show we cover:

  • What are some big changes Ronda’s seen in the world of HRV and with the SweetBeatLife app.
  • Are there notable differences in HRV between elite athletes, recreational athletes and non athletes?
  • The importance of individualization and not generalization in your HRV score.
  • The importance of sleep and worrying less.
  • HRV has circadian rhythm.
  • How we can use HRV to assess readiness to deal with training.
  • Can we use HRV to decide if that day and/or the program can be HIIT or more moderate aerobic-based.
  • Does Ronda have opinions on either style of training in terms of long-term health and robustness for athletes?
  • What ‘baby steps’ can we implement for an athlete looking to actively improve HRV (or a coach looking to convince an athlete of the merits of such strategies) without taking away from training.
  • What sort of long-term changes can interventions like meditation, stress reduction/lifestyle changes, coherence training, or even less intense training have for the athlete who’s chronically stressed out?
  • Definiing the nervous system and what HRV measures:
    –The SYMPATHETIC – low-frequency (LF), fight or flight; high energy sources to deal with (real or perceived) challenges or threats
    –The PARASYMPATHETIC – high-frequency (HF), rest and repair; vagal tone; brake pedal. HRV is indication of Vagal Tone
  • LF vs HF
  • Fatigue & overcoming fatigue
  • How can HRV show the way you are tired, meaning which part of the nervous system is fatigued.
  • Why is ‘sympathetic dominance’ which we often see in times of overtraining, is arguably more dangerous than parasympathetic dominance?
  • How always being in fight or flight mode prevents the athlete from resting when they need to the most (!)
  • How do you recover the parasympathetic as an athlete?
  • How does rMSSD fit in, its value, and why it’s possibly worth tracking this number too.
  • HRV vs. RPE, common sense, and using other feedback metrics to gauge readiness to train?
  • HRV before a big race (hear tawnee’s HRV before IM Tahoe ’13)


Comments (3)

  • Michelle says:

    Two questions:

    what is the difference between SweetBeat and SweetBeat Life?

    Also, during IM training build weeks when you are training ‘tired’ to mimic race day, not completely recovering each day, and have a lower HRV (Not super low, avg low) through out the week. How should that be approached?

    Thanks for all the great info on HRV.

  • B Scott says:

    Are you suggesting to use day-to-day HRV? That’s a not a very valid/accurate method and unlikely to identify real fatigue/stress. Surely you need to be turning your HRV values into weekly averages to improve accuracy if it’s going to be of any real use. Also I think more importance needed to be placed on standardising when HRV is taken so independent confounding variables aren’t affecting your values

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