Majority of the runners in my running group have Garmin devices, and have seemed curious as to what Training Effect (TE) and Performance Condition mean. Both of these measures are Garmin specific and have been developed by a company called Firstbeat Technologies Ltd.
What do they mean and how can one use these values for training?
The Performance Condition generally pops-up between 6-20 minutes into the run, with everyone either being concerned or curious…”why is there a minus?” what does the plus mean?”. Simply put: a positive value is good, negative, not so good – in a little more depth: the positive value indicates, based on your heart rate, anthropometric measures (height, weight), your age, and your pace, as to whether or not you are going to perform well on the run. Whereas a negative value can be indicative of fatigue. You can view this performance measure throughout the run, by adding it as one of the data screens – but if you’re monitoring your HR on a regular basis, you’ll manage just fine.
The Training Effect (TE) is based on your HR, duration and intensity of the workout. It is on a scale of 1.0 – 5.0, indicating the impact of an activity on your aerobic (endurance) fitness.
This TE can be used to help you further monitor your improvements in your aerobic fitness and/or level of fatigue.
*Please read “Overtraining and Recovery”
How does Garmin calculate your TE?
Garmin uses peak EPOC (excess post-exercise oxygen consumption) in order to determine TE, combined with your activity class. The activity class is a value that represents your activity level of the previous month, and the class ranges from 0 -7, 7.5 – 10. EPOC reflects the disturbance of the body’s homeostasis related to exercise. Firstbeat Technologies Ltd (the company hired by Garmin to help add all these features to your watch), uses a heart rate based model to estimate EPOC and thereby TE during exercise.
The peak EPOC thus determines the TE of the exercise activity, as can be seen in the below figure:
To summarize EPOC:
- The higher the exercise intensity, and the longer the exercise duration, the more EPOC accumulates
- The sorter the recovery periods during exercise, the higher the EPOC
- Exercise recruiting large muscle mass, such as in cross-country skiing, result in higher cardiorespiratory load and intensity of exercise and lead to higher EPOC as compared to exercises recruiting smaller muscle mass
- EPOC can be evaluated for any given moment during exercise
- The higher the EPOC, the higher the TE.
How do I use this information to adjust my training?
Training programs for beginners
- Exercise should be performed regularly 2 – 5 times per week.
- Easy exercise sessions should be scheduled between harder ones.
- In addition to endurance exercise, also other types of exercise sessions are needed: strength and flexibility 2-3 times per week each.
Training programs for trained individuals
- Effective exercise sessions should be done 1 – 4 times per week.
- Training should be focused on the specific sport in which one wishes to improve.
- Workouts of long duration and low TE are needed between more demanding workouts to maintain an endurance base.
- Easier training periods must be scheduled between the more demanding ones.
- The overall training load of highly active individuals is often very high due to the high intensity, long duration and high frequency of workouts.
- High training frequency causes single workouts to load the body to a greater extent than otherwise expected, due to residual fatigue.
- Therefore, all workouts cannot be improving; a few of the weekly training sessions must remain maintaining. Furthermore, even the top endurance athletes need easy weeks between the harder ones to ensure that the body has time to adapt and recover, which allows the level of fitness/performance to improve.
- Replacing the easy workouts and easier training weeks with harder ones may, in the long term, lead to the development of an overtraining syndrome.
What are the benefits of the different TE’s?
The concept of Overtraining and Recovery is one that all athletes should try and familiarize themselves with. But don’t worry, there is a reason there are individuals who have studied the concepts in detail, they (like me) are here to help you. Read the blog on Overtraining & Recovery for more information