This month our focus at ithlete will be stress. Whether its stress at work or stress in your chosen sports it all affects your heart rate variability (HRV) and readiness. Throughout September we will provide you with some helpful tips and content to effectively manage your stress levels and hopefully improve your heart rate variability.

Lets set the scene, it’s the morning of the race, you’ve just taken your HRV measurement with ithlete and it’s an amber warning. Sound familiar? Well you’re probably wondering how because you’ve followed your training programme to the letter, finished each one with the perfect recovery shake, and have prepared your event strategy thoroughly. So why the amber reading?

Changes in your HRV can be caused by a variety of factors, including breathing, emotions, various physical and behavioural changes. A decrease in your HRV on race day will almost certainly be linked to the anxiety and nerves you are feeling towards your upcoming event. A combination of stress and anxiety will stress the system sufficiently for you to be in amber. If you read our training blogs, a running theme throughout is an amber on the day of an event from our contributors.


Certainly do not fear the worst. If you have read Andrew Flatt’s piece on interpreting HRV data then you will know that a decreased HRV reading has been detected in a range of athletes prior to competition as a result of heightened levels of excitement or anxiety. Furthermore, lower HRV has been reported to be advantageous in sprinters on the day of a race.

Here are some helpful tips to overcome those pre event nerves to really help you get in the zone:

Get an Early Night

Ensure you are well rested, and you have had good quality sleep, eaten the right foods and are well hydrated. All of this will calm your body and mind before the race.

Breathe Deeply

When we’re tense or fired up, it is easy to forget to breath. Before your big event, try to stay calm and keep your breathing deep and slow. This will calm the body, avoiding excess cortisol and adrenal being released.

 Remain Calm

Listen to music, stretch, walk, read a book, talk in a light, positive conversation to others. If you feel really nervous, take a moment to write down, ‘what is it that makes you feel really nervous and how can you let go of this

Arrive Early

Travel can be stressful enough without the worry of being late so arrive with plenty of time. Get a feel for the event and get prepared.

You can monitor your stress whether through training or work with ithlete. Through ithlete Pro you can use the fully configurable timeline chart for HRV, resting heart rate, training load and subjective data (including stress) enabling better insight into which lifestyle factors impact performance and recovery most.


Make sure you keep an eye out on our Blog, Facebook and Twitter pages throughout September for everything stress related