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Training: Morning Resting Heart Rate (MRHR)
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Morning Resting Heart Rate (MRHR) is a strong predictor of the state of rest/recovery/general well being. There is variability that comes with changes in hydration, illness, temperature and altitude, etc, but I’ve found that setting aside the transient factors, MRHR is remarkably strong predictor of the state of rest e.g., how well I will perform that day, both cognitively and physically.
Interesting exercise: observe the change in MRHR when going from, say, sea level to 10,000' elevation.
Taking morning resting heart rate
Just as with tracking weight, it is important that MRHR be taken the same way every day, otherwise its validity as a predictor is reduced.
- Take upon waking, but avoid any activity prior. Ideally take it at the same time each day, since the sleep/wake cycle can be an influence. Do not eat or drink prior. Avoid alarm clocks as this can startle-wake and cause release of hormones that can affect heart rate.
- Lie flat on back completely still, as relaxed as possible. Even turning the head can bump heart rate up 2-3 beats, so it is very important to be completely relaxed. Allow at least one minute for the heart rate to return to baseline if moving/standing prior.
- Count pulse for 1 minute; do this 3 times to cross check. Better: use a heart rate monitor (a good one, not a sort-of-maybe one); usually this means using a heart rate monitor strap along with a fitness device that displays heart rate.
- Use a heart rate monitor for best accuracy, especially since heart rate variability (high when fit and rested) can be significant. This means using a heart rate monitor strap along with a fitness device that displays heart rate averaging over a few seconds. Newer devices that do not use a strap are dubious.
Record the lowest heart rate observed over 5+ seconds, along with a range over a few minutes. For example, 42-48 is typical for me when well rested, dropping to 38-40 when all systems are in peak states of rest and recovery. I have observed rates as low as 32 at sea level.