Why You Need Daily Subjective Data to Crush Your Training

by | May 1, 2021 | Mindset, Training

Last week when I was chatting about RED-S with researcher Alex Coates for Ontario Cycling (you can watch a replay here!), we had a long discussion about the importance of keeping track of subjective data. Basically, we agreed that whatever method you use, it’s critical to ask yourself every day, “How am I feeling, really?” This is something we talked a lot about in our book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, because we see a lot of athletes who get so bogged down in objective data coming in from so many sources (heart rate monitors, power meters, sleep trackers, etc.) that they simply forget to tune in and ask, How do I feel?

Objective data is great and super helpful, obviously. But it’s important to not outsource how you feel, because—as strength and conditioning specialist Sheldon Persad explained in a presentation for the Canadian Sport Institute, subjective feelings are still the most reliable indicator of problems and concerns, and the most important question to ask on a daily basis is simply “how do you feel?”

If we can tune in to our subjective feelings more closely, we can prevent a lot of injuries, overtraining, RED-S and so much more. But it does take a bit of work.

There are a few ways to get to the heart of how you feel, and asking a few questions is ideal if you’re just coming back to the idea of tuning into your body. The exact questions you ask yourself daily don’t really matter, and in fact, we encourage you to think about what markers are surefire signs to you that something is out of whack. Some people get grumpy, while others get more emotional, while others get more monotone and closed off, for example. Do some thinking about your best signs that something isn’t feeling right. Think about physical factors as well, like soreness and fatigue.

So, someone might create a spreadsheet with a 1-10 rating system (or 1-5, whatever floats your boat) measuring:

  • Fatigue
  • Stress level
  • Mood / emotional state
  • Irritability
  • Soreness
  • Sleep quality/quantity
  • Appetite/satiety

You don’t need to do do all of them. Pick the few that feel the most obvious to you! If you don’t want to make your own spreadsheet, you can make a note in your Training Peaks that you use every day when recording your workout, or you can use an app on your phone. We love the HRV4Training app since it adds in some objective data and some ‘about your day’ info in addition to asking subjective questions (and you can add more questions!).

Want to learn more? Check out our book, Becoming A Consummate Athlete, right here:


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