Evaluating tiredness to train

Something I’ve been thinking about after I didn’t give enough leeway to the heat we had over the summer when training and let it lead to detrimental performance.

What sort of ‘system’ (if you can call it that) do you use to decide whether to go full gas on the training plan, get through it with quality, get through it, have an easy day, stay in bed… etc. ?

Obviously my question assumes you have some sort of training programme, otherwise I get that you can just decide on the day what you feel like.

If you are tired when you wake up do you have a crack anyway? If you have good energy but doms do you ignore them?

The problem as I have found it is that if you get stuck into a session if tired you often feel good once you are into it - your body responding to the demands I presume - until one day you don’t’ and you fall off a cliff.

I’m considering some kind of mark out of 10 in the morning - 10 is ready to break PBs, 0 is couldn’t get out of bed if I tried. 8 good. 7 would be feel okay. 5 would be lethargic and fuzzy.
At 5 I’d probably go easy and cancel any intervals. At 4 I’d probably sack it off altogether.

Over to you…

The technical method is to use HRV. If you have a bluetooth chest strap and elite app (free) then you can basically get a good idea and it does seem to be pretty good. My rule of thumb is when tired start easy and see, if after 15 minutes you still don’t feel good bin it, if you feel ok keep it easy. With weekend warriors you also have to factor in life stresses and sleep patterns so even if you start and then feel good, its worth keeping it easy as you don’t know what the rest of the day could throw at you.

Heart Rate Variability. I’ve used ithelete for a while. 1 min reading every morning. It gives a Green, Amber, Red warning on how well rested and recovered you are and whether you are ready to go. There was as study done recently and groups who went full tilt when the HRV was highest and dialed it back when low saw the most gains.

Some of the new Garmins will do the measurement if you have the latest HR strap

Also the newer Garmins have the Performance Condition metric which uses HR, HRV and some other bits to evaluate of fresh you are once you get going. If you are going out for intervals that says you suck then you can dial it back.

The problem I have had in the past is using this data effectively. I became too transfixed on my plan that I wasn’t able to adapt when the data was telling me I should.

DOMS stopping you training - HTFU

Other stuff, yeah fair.

Thanks. (and @GRamsay ).
I’ve tried the HRV4 training app (uses the camera on the phone) and it seems to be a bit all over the place. If your HRV goes down is that supposed to reflect ‘tiredness’ ?

ha, not much has stopped me training. That’s the challenge.

Its a bit complicated as I recall. You need a baseline HRV which you get on a quiet week. You then need to evaluate (the app does it for you) the trend. If its trending downwards (i.e HRV is lower) then you are poorly rested and recovered. If it goes up when you are recovering well and can push hard. Its something to do with the parasympathetic and sympathetic nervous system.

It also serves as an early warning system that you are getting a cold etc. Some days you will wake up feel great, HRV will have tanked, next day your ill.

I found as well that some days it just didn’t correlate. Felt great, low HRV. Other days high HRV, felt like shit.

Its a useful indicator if you can adapt, but listening to how you feel is almost as good I think and sometimes better. I think with HRV is giving you the knowledge to know, I dont feel great but I can push through.

so do you need a ‘special’ (expensive) HRM for this or will the standard Garmin one do the job, and then you just need the appropriate software to analyse?

As it’s Garmin, i’m pretty sure i’m going to know the answer to this!!

For Garmin to do it you need the new Garmin Run / Garmin Tri red or blue strap. For the apps like ithelete you can use their finger sensor or you can use certain HRM straps, they need to be able to read the r-squared values which most can’t, I think the polar straps can. I use the finger sensor.


Normal Garmin one doesnt work. I think it just needs to be bluetooth, but I’ve got a standard TICKR which was about £40 and has the functionality.

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Its not about heart rate, its about the variability in the time between beats. I dont know much about the science, its is a massive subject, but the elite app (others are out there) basically says train yes no or be mindful . I do know a lady who had a very serious RTA last year with concussion and has since started getting migraine and see has noticed a trend of HRV changes just before a migraine hits. From what I’m seeing it’s quite a powerful tool that they are only just starting to find out about

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This is quite a nice little summary:


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If you are evaluating your tiredness to train, you are too tired to train.
Are you getting paid to train?
If not, you don’t have to train. You know this,right?

Why not just exercise and have some enjoyment instead?

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This makes me think of how much I actually enjoy Sunday morning winter rides in all weathers. No pressure to do a certain speed/distance or TSS; just go out and ride on the road bike. If the weather is poor, then it just makes you a ‘Rule 9’ #badass.

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:grinning: Yes, very true. I also get enjoyment out of executing a training plan and am well aware that they will leave you tired at times. As I get older I am having to pay more attention to this.

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On most of my sessions I am now working on RPE. One of the surprising aspects is that I am pretty good at estimating my HR at any given time. If I am feeling “normal” I can estimate my HR to +/- 3 bpm. Sometimes when I run I just feel really good and go at a slightly higher pace & HR, sometimes the oppostite occurs and I just go with a slower pace.

I am finding it really liberating not following my watch

I use the watch pretty rigorously for Intervals and Tempo sessions

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At the moment, no. I have 3 key sessions per week in plan , the rest I treat as flexible/optional. I haven’t chosen to skip a key session, but I did have two rest days last week instead of one because I hadn’t slept well one night.


I’m very similar @Matthew_Spooner . Years of running to HR and my body is pretty consistent. The numbers vary when i’m in different states of fitness, but i’m normally pretty accurate.

That’s pretty much going to be my mantra as well. Couple of key sessions, then whatever else i can fit in. No pressure and stress, just do what i can.

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