Shay Seager

Shay Seager

Occupation: Athlete, Personal Trainer, Yoga Teacher, Nutritionist
Primary Sports: Rowing

“I feel more confident in my training plan, I recover better, I waste less time trying to figure out what I should be doing and when I should be taking rest – it takes the guess work out of it.”

I started racing competitively in boardercross Snowboarding and swimming in my hometown in Lake Tahoe. When I went to college I wanted to keep my fitness up so I began doing half ironman Triathlons. From there I was recruited to row for UC Berkeley’s Varsity; placing first at Pac 12’s and 2ndat NCAA (as a boat and as a team).  During my time at college I also trained with the US Rowing National team. I aspired to make the 2012 London Olympic team, however in October 2010 I was severely overtrained and it has taken me 2 years to recover.

I used to question myself incessantly which left me to  defaulting to doing more – left to my own devices I will eat less, train more end up overtraining.

Before hearing about ithlete I didn’t consider the time my body needed for rest and recovery. If my coach scheduled a day off I did, otherwise I would train 7 days a week. I have experienced many symptoms of overtraining and suffered from various injuries which were caused by overtraining. These included;

  • Depression
  • Extreme fatigue
  • Adrenal fatigue and collapse
  • Significantly increased allergies
  • Weight gain
  • Hormone imbalances
  • Dislocations
  • Stress fractures
  • Costochondritis
  • Shin splints
  • Tendonitis
  • Pnemonia

I was experiencing injuries all over my body all the time, every day I would wake up with a new injury/pain and I was getting sick frequently.

Luckily my trainer introduced me to heart rate variability (HRV) and suggested that I track it to see how I was responding to training.

Since I started using ithlete over a year ago I have been pulling myself out of an overtraining hole, which I had dug pretty deep. With the help of ithlete, I have seen my strength improve, my lean body mass increase/improve (which is huge because when I got overtrained I was catabolic all the time and burned up lots of my muscle), and my fat mass decrease. I feel more confident in my training plan and so I spin my wheels less trying to figure out what I should be doing and when I should be taking rest – it takes the guess work out of it. I have also noticed that things like dehydration, and sleep impact the numbers a lot.

I use to train 25-30 hours a week, now I train approx 14 hours a week, that’s a real difference and I am seeing significantly more improvement. Less is definitely more. Using ithlete basically kept me from doing “bonus” (unscheduled workouts I did because I thought more was better) workouts and helped me feel confident in taking rest, whether that was a day or an afternoon. It also encouraged me to consider recovery as an equally important element of training and allow my body the appropriate rest time.

When I first got the ithlete system I pushed the boundaries. What would I have to do to go orange/red or pull myself back into green? Once I got familiar with the system and how I respond to training I took ithlete’s recommendation every day – and I still do!

Because I am recovering from overtraining I am trying to stay green/white all the time until Jan at which point, if all goes to plan, I will be cycling my training, as ithlete prescribes, with 3 weeks building 1 week taper to get me ready for racing in June/July. I am confident that monitoring my HRV and listening to ithlete’s recommendations will help me reach my goals next year.

My coaches also use it to programme as they can see when a workout was not very challenging and when one was super challenging, which helps make the most of future sessions.

I like ithlete because it is a non-biased approach to making informed decisions about my body.  It is easy for me to say, “oh I’m sore, but I need to train anyway” or “Just 20 more min” but with ithlete I know that I shouldn’t go into the orange/red. As I get feedback every day, I can see when I am heading in the direction of going red/orange because my numbers dip, I take more recovery. It’s not always a warning message; when I see my numbers jump high I push harder in the gym. This way, I feel safe!

Some advice to new users

When I first got it I would forget to take the measurement every day. So, to get in the habit I set my alarm to tell me to do the measurement and I wrote it everywhere, like on my mirror and on the fridge (because I wake up at 5am and I am not really thinking until 10am so I need to be berated with reminders) but now it is a habit. After a while you start to know when you’re reading is going to go up or down, I’m not usually surprised by the information anymore, but I still use the system and prioritize it because it gives me reference (I can look back at training days and see how I responded) also I can send the information to coaches so that if I need to take an unscheduled rest day they can’t argue with the data, they back off and respect your body.