Biohacking: Quantifying Exercise Recovery

Last week I ran 135 miles in one non-stop push. Now I’m trying to figure out how long I need give myself to recover from that effort. Combining data from The Oura Ring and a Nokia Body Cardio Scale I can gain some insight as to how my recovery is going. I’ve decided to focus on these four measurements as critical indicators :

  • Heart Rate Variability (HRV)
  • Temperature Deviation (TD)
  • Respiration Rate (RR)
  • Water Mass (WM%)

The first three indicators I can pull from The Oura Ring. Let’s take a look at Heart Rate Variability as this is considered one of the most reliable indicators for recovery. The Oura Ring records HRV all night long and provides an average value. While I normally have an HRV in the 60’s when I finished running on the 16th my HRV had dropped to 40 almost 20 points below normal. You can read more about HRV here. I have seen this behavior consistently with running ultra marathons of varying distance. My HRV value levels are reduced for several days after these events.


Another sign that I am in a recovery mode is an increase in body temperature. Normally I am with .1 degree celsius of my normal body temperature. After this event I have been over 1.1 degree C over normal. In other words I am running hot and it would also look this way if I were sick. After the initial night of sleep my temeprature deviation was greatly reduced to being much closer to normal, but not fully recovered being between .2C – .6C above normal.

Respiration rate is simply an average of how many breaths/min are taken during a full nights sleep. I went into this event with 13.5 breaths/min and immediately afterwards was at 15.6 breaths/min. A huge increase that took five days to get back to normal levels.

My hydration level is usually at 61%. I have over a year of data confirming this. However, it has been really bumped up post race peaking out at 66%. I’m using the Nokia Body Cardio scale to collect this data and what is interesting to note is how slowly the recovery time has been to release the excess water in my feet and ankles. Even five days after the event I’m still around 64% water mass which is several percentage points about my norm.

It is starting to look like a week long recovery to get everything back to normal. However, since this was a long, slow, low effort event I’ve already resumed my maintenance mileage of seven miles a day. While some people prefer to go by feel alone I have found the combination of data and feel to be the best indicator of when I can resume more stressful training.

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