Today I met with my surgeon to see how the recovery is going. I was secretly hoping to hear it goes better than expected and I can return to my training.
X-Ray pictures, then range of motion assessment… impressive! What?
Indeed, I’m healing really fast and haven’t lost any mobility in the shoulder. In fact I am moving so well, that when I asked about physiotherapy he smiled and asked Why? He said I already do the things people usually can’t in this stage of recovery. He also allowed me to slowly get back to the training, however warned me about lifting weights and stay away from it. Swimming, Running, Cycling? Yes, Sir!
What contributed to such fast recovery?
1. Continuous movement. I haven’t stopped moving and every day I would find a way to keep the blood flowing. My arm can’t move, but the legs can. Walk, walk, walk… a lot of walking. Blake might’ve cut a few pounds from putting so many steps.
2. Nutrition. I always stay on top of my nutrition and closely look what I put into my body. Clean, nutritiously rich foods sure helped with recovery by delivering all the necessary building blocks.
3. Attitude. It was not always bright and positive. In fact, I went through a lot of frustration and it got pretty ugly at time. During those time I haven’t stopped reminding myself that it will not last forever and it’s a good mental training.
4. Support. Mental support from the people around helped me to see a better future and find the positives in situation. Knowing that there’s is someone you can ask for help gives hope.
Would I do anythingdifferently?
This is a tough question to answer. I don’t think I would do anything differently… Maybe just working on cutting the negative thoughts and emotions. However without having those dark periods I won’t feel so good right now. No, I won’t change anything. All was good! Couldn’t get any better.
I am so happy and grateful for recovering so fast, so well. I am grateful for everyone who helped me along the way. A huge Thank you!!!
It’s been though, it’s been painful, but it was a good mental training. Time to roll up the sleeves and get back to business! Watch me evolve…
I have always wanted to become an entrepreneur. I was fascinated of how someone’s single thought, a vision can become a business that changes people’s lives. I have always enjoyed reading successes stories and biographies of strong leaders, successful business mans and just the people who made significant impact into the world we live in. Their views on life inspired me and often gave me the will to keep moving forward, overcoming obstacles.
I look at the business as at the sport. So many similarities. Entrepreneurship gives me the opportunity to challenge my mind in a ways that sport doesn’t. I get to master such skills as persistence and resilience. I work on developing the vision, creating the plan and executing it.
I believe that entrepreneurship will help me develop my human potential through developing my leadership potential. It will give me a freedom to express myself through the work I will be doing. I want to create something that will not just bring the food on my table but also serve other people and society I live in.
Human potential is unlimited and it is our mandate to discover it.
Over the course of past several months I’ve ran a small business called Recovery Room.
MVP or how I called it – a “Smoke Test” allowed me to obtain business knowledge and experience as well as to make a decision on whether to pursue the idea or not. Through MVP (minimum viable product) I tested some of my core assumptions and obtained some valuable data that could be beneficial to others and should not be lost on my hard drive.
Considering the all the factors outlined in the document below and a personal loss of interest to the subject of advanced recovery, I have decided not to pursue this business project and terminate Recovery Room at its early stage. I might change my decision and perspective in future, but for now it shall remain as is. I still believe this is a good innovative idea and anticipate to see similar businesses open across US and Canada in future. I am also convinced that athletes can benefit from implementing and utilizing advanced recovery tools into their athletic routine. Because of that I am sharing the work I’ve done over the past several months with the public and allow anyone use it whether to start their own business or improve existing one. Below I attached my business plan outlining the vision for the business, a step-by-step process of developing this initiative and detailed marketing research.
There are six things we are trying to achieve with of proper pre-exercise nutrition:
Restore muscle glycogen (especially important for morning training). A lot of athletes ignore food first thing in the morning. Don’t be like most! Going into training fasted or under-fueled will catch your up later with what cyclists call “bonking” or runners call “hitting the wall”. You simply run off the gas (glycogen) and your body refuse to deal with you any longer. You are forced to stop, you lost!
Satisfy hunger. Realizing that you’re hungry in the last hour before exercise or race is too late. Eating so close to start will only harm you.
Optimize performance. This is a biggie! This is why you continue reading this chapter. Other than simply restocking your glycogen stores and fluid levels, proper pre-training nutrition has direct correlation with your performance.
Improve post-exercise recovery. If you start with your fuel tank on empty, even if you eat and hydrate during training, your recovery will be compromised. The better fueled and hydrated you are going into the training, the faster you will recover from it afterwards.
Salads are bad for you! This is the only time you hear me say it – right before training or racing. We are not talking here about eating for health and longevity, we are fueling up our carb tanks for performance. Understanding that, we stay away from fiber, high fat and protein foods. Those foods are slow to digest, may cause bloating and diarrhea during high intensity trainings.
Here is your general guidelines to follow, when deciding on how you are going to fill up your body for upcoming training:
Eat mostlycarbohydrates. The more time you have before exercise, the lower GI of your food choices should be.
Stay away from fiber.
Include protein, especially BCAAs. The 2018 Researchsponsored by Western University in Canada have shown that taking in BCAAs before aerobic exercise improves endurance and stimulates protein synthesis.
Of course, eating moderate-high GI foods will cause the insulin spike and shut down fat oxidation and your body will shift to burning carbs for fuel. This is concerning for many athletes that try to loose weight and train in fasted state to improve fax oxidation.
You got to pick one or another:
You burn fat and loose wight
You train and race at you peak performance, stimulating fitness gains.
Those two are not compatible. If you chose the option #2, continue reading as I’ll get more in depth on how to fuel up for performance. If your goal is to loose fat, you chubby panda, I suggest you read on some of my postshere.
HOW MUCH & WHEN?
To boost your performance, carbohydrate-rich easy-to-digest foods should be consumed no less than 1-2 hours before the exercise or race.
Everybody is different and the amount is determined by body size and gender. You should listen to your body, however here is some general guidelines:
3-4 hours before – Large meal (500-800 calories)
1-3 hours before – Medium-size meal (250-500 calories)
30 min – 1.5 hour before – Small meal, snack (100-500 calories)
10 minutes before start – Sports drink or Gel (100-200 calories), followed by 180-240 ml of water.
Race Week Diet
Typically a week before competition, athletes go into a “tapering” stage, where training volume and intensity is reduced to ensure the athlete is well rested before the event. Since they don’t train as much, it makes some athletes confused with their food choices. Let’t keep it simple: this is not the time to make changes in your day-to-day diet. You should continue to eat the same diet as while you was training, but with slightly reduces amount of calories consumed.
Skip the pasta party! The day before the race slightly add more carbohydrates to ensure your glycogen tanks are full. It’s a great time to treat yourself to some: bananas, peaches, watermelon, dried fruits, potatoes, sweet potatoes, yams. To keep your blood sugar levels in check from such high GI foods, add protein and fat with each meal. In addition, reduce the fiber and eat at your usual times.
A tip: The order in which you eat carbs and proteins matter. Simply by switch the order you eat your food you can control you glucose and insulin levels. Eat protein and vegetables first and carbohydrates at the end. Never eat carbohydrates alone. Read more on Food Order.
Lemon, Peter. “Effect of Branched-Chain Amino Acid Supplementation on Muscle Damage – Full Text View.” Search of: Spain – List Results – ClinicalTrials.gov, Western University, Canada, 2018, clinicaltrials.gov/ct2/show/NCT03766815.
Unlike professional athletes, a lot of people manage to balance full-time jobs, family commitments and relationships with training. Training and competing, tight deadlines at work, travel across time zones, misunderstandings with people you care about, illnesses, dealing with difficult kids – all accumulate and add to psychological and physiological stress. Add on top of problems at work one or two hard training sessions, sprinkle it with sleep deprivation and you are well on your way to burnout and injury.
Mood swings, food cravings, inconsistency and unpredictability in athletic performance, lack of motivation, low energy levels are only the symptoms of system overload. You feel drained and totally destroyed. At 3 pm you fall asleep on the toilet at work, or worse, while driving back home. Total load is the term proposed by International Olympic Committee. In addition to your training and competing stress, it takes into account the daily life stressors.
Faster, better, stronger, harder! Sleep less, work more! Sleep for the weak! No pain – no gain! Chasing “gains” in our sports, we totally neglect psychological stressors and daily life hassles. We are so good at pushing ourselves, but so bad at recovering. Do you really think you can keep on abusing and pushing you body this way forever without any consequences? How long do you think you can last until it breaks? The question is not IF, the question is WHEN? Understanding the implications of total load and how to manage it – is critical to achieving your goals.
Modern technologies allow people to monitor so many body metrics: Heart rate during exercise; Resting heart rate (RHR); Sleep duration; Sleep stages; Caloric consumption and expenditure; Glucose and Ketone levels, you name it. We have access to data, that only a few decades ago was available to scientists in research labs. So many metrics at your hand and inability to make sense of it leads to information overload and analysis paralysis.
Information is gold. You will learn what the HRV is, and can it help you to improve your health, well-being and sports performance. I will teach you how to track and interpret your HRV data and show you real life examples of how daily life events and trainings impact your performance and recovery.
By default, Mother Nature has programmed your autonomic nervous system (ANS) with two operation systems: Sympathetic OS and Parasympathetic OS. They both work simultaneously, however performing totally different tasks.
Sympathetic Operation System
This is the system that has direct access to the “red button” which in situations threatening survival will prime your body for action.
Muscles contract, and begin to convert glycogen into glucose.
Heart rate ramps up.
Bronchial tubes dilate to facilitate better gas exchange.
Pupils dilate to enhance visual input, even in low light.
Hearing shuts down (auditory exclusion – loss of hearing).
You feel almost like rocket fuel has been poured into your system. Nitrous oxide is fueling your engine. You are READY TO EXPLODE at any second now. Flames are shooting down your exhaust pipes. Go get them!
This system saved your great-great-great-…-great father’s life, when saber-toothed tiger decided to have some homosapien for dinner. It is the reason why you are being alive. It was developed from necessity as a survival mechanism to prepare your body respond with everything it got in a matter of milliseconds. This system is awesome.
Parasympathetic Operation System
Unlike SO system, Parasympathetic OS is designed to slow you dow. This system is responsible to deploy the parachutes when the race is over. It maintains both mental and physical health by helping your body to calm down from stress reaction you’ve had and divert energy from other body processes to “rest and digest”. It’s a pit stop, where you get repaired, refueled and prepared for the next race.
Turns on digestion system, sending you to use the restroom
Makes you horny
Puts brakes on the heart rate and lowers the blood pressure after the sympathetic nervous system has activated the fight or flight response
Now that everything is behind, it’s time to chill and restore the energy you expanded.
HRV, What are you?
Heart Rate Variability – is the physiological phenomenon of variation in the time interval between heartbeats.
Unlike the car’s engine, your heart doesn’t beat with exact same frequency each moment. The pauses between beats are not equal and can range from 0.85 and 1.35 seconds.
Note: The longest intervals between beats occur when you exhale, and the shortest intervals when you inhale.
HRV is simply a measure of the variation in time between each heartbeat which is controlled by autonomic nervous system (ANS).
Is it Worth the Hype?
For the past 4 months, every single morning I measured my HRV using HRV4Training IOS app. It costed me $10 for the app which promised to provide data analytics on the relation between physiological parameters, training and performance. It does not require any extra sensors and use iPhones flashlight with camera to measure your heart rate (technique is called photoplethysmography). The process of measuring is really easy:
Place your fingertip exactly on the camera. Touch the camera gently
Try not to move for the duration of the whole test, and breathe freely, without forcing any unnatural breathing pattern
Stay still for 1 minute
After each measurement the app will output the HRV Score. Higher score (or greater variability between heart beats) usually means that the body has a strong ability to tolerate stress or is strongly recovering from prior accumulated stress. At rest, a high HRV is generally favorable and a low HRV is unfavorable.
I also been journaling my emotional conditions, energy levels and training performances during that time period. I collected a lot of data to see if there are any patterns or corrections between HRV and my athletic performances , as well as overall feeling.
Traveling & Racing
Ukraine, Euro-tour, Marathon, Half-Marathon
From December 29th to January 19th I put A LOT of stress on my body and mind. I flew to Kiev, Ukraine from Toronto changing 8 time zones. I visited 5 countries during the road trip through the Europe. I drove over 5,000 km. I ran a marathon on January 5th in Paris and a half-marathon week later. Below is the data I got from the app during that crazy trip:
Left picture shows the recovery points and the right one shows the heart rate. To my surprise, app measurements show that cross-continental flight to another part of the world didn’t harm my body too much, neither the marathon did. Almost throughout the entire time of travel, training and competing my recovery points stayed nice and high, even higher then when I was back home. Same story with heart rate. It stayed low during the entire time, showing the positive trend even after the marathon.
Looking at this graphs it seems that my body handled travel, training and racing very well. In fact the scores are better than I had, while back home in Canada.
This is where it gets really interesting! Immediately right after returning back home, everything went down. My recovery pointsfell straight down, continuing this negative trend for 7 days! We can also see direct correlation to heart rate readings. For a week it continued to creep up indicating that my body is having a really hard time.
My theory is that during the time spent traveling and in Ukraine, my body was under some sort of adrenaline or in defense mode to absorb the stress. Shortly after I returned back home and touched my bed, my body switched off the defense mode and literally fell apart.
Not to mention that despite downward trends Ifelt good mentally and emotionally.
Can HRV predict good and bad performances?
Let’s put travel and stress associated to the side and evaluate the data during regular training under normal conditions. Consistent journaling allows me to go back and see when I felt particularly good or bad, strength or weakness. I used my post-workout comments to compare them with HVR scores on that particular day.
Below Average / Bad Performances
In contrast to low HRV scores, let’s review some more recent data with higher scores. Did I feel and perform better with high HRV scores?
Great performances / Breakthroughs
“Information is only useful if it’s actionable“
Now that we reviewed the data, lets bring the elephant into the room and answer the main question:
Does HRV4Training provide data analytics on the relation between physiological parameters, training and performance?
In my case it DOES NOT.
During the 4 months of recording and comparing HRV data to my overall feeling I did not find direct relationship between HRV scores and athletic performances. It addition HRV score does not reflect mental or emotional state, neither it was promised by developers it would.
I am sure there are people who found this tool useful and will disagree with me. However everyone is different and what works for one, does not work for another. $10 for this particular app will not break your budget and I encourage you to give it a shot and see if you benefit from it. I am opened for discussion on the topic and I might change my mind, but for now I will stop measuring my morning HRV using the app for the reasons I stated above. Instead I will work to recognize the signs my body tell me, when something’s not quite right. I will also listen more to my emotional state to access my condition and predict the readiness to perform on a given day.
Soligard, T., Martin Schwellnus, J. A., Bahr, R., Clarsen, B., Dijkstra, P., Gabbett, T., . . . Engebretsen, L. (2016, September 01). How much is too much? (Part 1) International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of injury. Retrieved March 7, 2019, from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/50/17/1030
Schwellnus M, Soligard T, Alonso J, et al(2016, September 01). How much is too much? (Part 2) International Olympic Committee consensus statement on load in sport and risk of illness. Br J Sports Med2016;50:1043-1052. Retrieved March 7, 2019, from https://bjsm.bmj.com/content/50/17/1043
What is Heart Rate Variability (HRV)? And how it can enhance your training. (n.d.). Retrieved March 7, 2019, from https://www.myithlete.com/what-is-hrv/