By Ben Hoffman
Even though the most complete picture of my internal physiology is achieved by analyzing the interplay of all 10 of the parameters on my Cercacor Ember, there are 3 key measurements I highlight throughout the year as my "go-tos." Of course these may vary from person to person, but I have been fortunate to log over 4 years of data on my device and learn what gives me the best snapshot of overall health and performance within each training cycle.
The first measurement I track is hemoglobin. One of Ember’s greatest benefits is its ability to measure hemoglobin non-invasively, which previously required a blood draw and subsequent waiting period. Now I can see day-to-day, moment-to-moment exactly what my levels are, and stay on top of any major changes without having to wait until I feel badly or have some other reason to check my values. Because I spend time at altitude every year, I can see how my body reacts to that stimulus, and I can also track my day-to-day hydration levels.
The second reading I track is PRV, or Pulse Rate Variability. This is a very basic and literal measurement of the slight variance in the time between heart beats. The reason I highlight this particular reading is that it can give a good look at the body's ability to tolerate stress, and to show whether the heart and body are properly recovered after sessions and ready for the next. Generally speaking, the higher the PRV the better, so if I see a low number on a morning workout, I may back off the intensity or duration of a workout, or, conversely, may use it to push myself harder even if I'm not feeling perfect. The numbers don't lie!
Finally, I track SpO2, or oxygen saturation, which is a measurement of the amount of oxygen your blood is carrying as a percentage of the maximum it could. A healthy adult’s SpO2 should generally range between 96-99%, so if I see anything significantly lower, I pay close attention. Of course, there are times when I am seeking the stress of lower SpO2 numbers to create a hemoglobin building response in my body, but in normal circumstances, this gives an important snapshot of health, as many bodily functions rely on having enough oxygen in the system. It is especially important in the current environment of a global pandemic with the Coronavirus to keep an eye on this measurement.
Chasing the top level of Ironman racing requires diligent training and recovery, as well as a keen understanding of the inner workings of my body. By utilizing the Cercacor Ember daily, I can track all the relevant data over long periods of time, share them with my team, and make more informed decisions that help my overall performance.