Georgina Gardner Stockley
Primary Sport: Swimming
ithlete keeps me mindful so I go into each training session with clear intentions and achievable goals.
As a junior I took part in athletics (heptathlon), golf, swimming and alpine ski racing until I committed to swimming full time in 2012. Originally my goal for this season was to make Commonwealth trials however a shoulder injury in late October has adjusted my focus to recovering from said injury and changing the way that I recruit the muscles in and around my shoulders to prevent a reoccurrence.
I have used ithlete since I began training fulltime, over two years ago. My dad (and coach) came across it in the app store. As we did not have any way of knowing how I would cope mentally or physically with a fulltime, elite level training program we decided that it was the of the utmost importance that we had a way to gauge my body’s response.
It took a while to get to grips with ithlete but we quickly found its feedback helpful. Over months of use patterns emerge, deviation from which can alert you to anything abnormal. Throughout my time using the product ithlete has given me graphical representations of my physiological response to viruses and illness, changes in diet and psychological stress. Most recently my HRV was chronically low with little variation from day to day, even after long periods of low intensity recovery training. After a lot of investigation I found a book about sleep: ‘Sleep for Success: Everything You Must Know About Sleep but Are too Tired to Ask’ by Dr. James B Maas (which I thoroughly recommend). Maas has worked with multiple athletes, drastically improving their performance by altering their sleeping patterns. Through this I discovered that for a person my age nine and a quarter hours sleep per night is required to avoid sleep deprivation. At that time I was averaging around seven. We changed my training routine, starting morning sessions an hour later and going to sleep an hour earlier. After a week my HRV began to rise slowly and steadily. Eventually it flattened out around 15 points higher than previously and I began to function better in between training sessions too. Without ithlete I would not have realised anything was wrong as I was used to my chronic exhaustion.
We have found that it is not necessarily about ‘doing what ithlete says’ but instead listening to what ithlete is telling you about your physiological state. Subsequently it is most helpful as a method of confirmation that we are achieving what we intend to achieve. For example: if I am attempting to overreach before a recovery week, amber or red readings towards the end of the training cycle confirm that this is being achieved. In contrast rising HRV during a taper confirms I am recovering adequately. If I get a red or amber reading at a time when I don’t want to push myself into a state of overreaching then I reduce the intensity or change the focus of the day’s session. Equally if my HRV is very high then we know we can safely increase the training load.
As a sprinter I am primarily focused on high intensity training and it is therefore easy to over-train. As a result of ithlete we have spent a lot of time investigating and exploring how to train for speed without constantly causing failing adaptation. This has led to us limiting the number of max effort sprints and lifts that I perform, limiting the distance of sprint repeats and making space in my program for adequate low intensity recovery training often in the form of swim drills, long walks or bike rides.
At the most I train around twenty hours a week and at the least around ten. ithlete forces me to constantly pay attention to my body. It has taught me to be flexible and non-precious with my training plan. In many ways it would be a lot easier to execute a pre-written program every day without considering what my body needs and what will benefit it most but training in that way is likely to lead to burnout and will certainly not produce the greatest gains in performance. ithlete keeps me mindful so I go into each training session with clear intentions and achievable goals.
Alongside this the ithlete team have been extremely helpful whenever I have contacted them with any questions and are always keen to discuss patterns and readings. It’s a great product from great people. Thank you ithlete!