In this series, we’ll be introducing you to some of the 23,000+ athletes taking advantage of the Firstbeat Sports solution to monitor training and recovery. We’ll get an athlete’s personal view of how they use Firstbeat in their sport and will learn more about their sporting achievements and ambitions.
Name: Tom George
Team(s): Princeton University, Team GB rowing
Firstbeat Sports technology used: Firstbeat Sports and Firstbeat Sports iPhone app
How long have you trained with Firstbeat data and feedback?
I have been using Firstbeat since September 2015. I was Rowing at Princeton University, sitting in the stroke seat of the Men’s Varsity VIII when I started using Firstbeat as a tool for my training.
Where do you row now?
I am now training with, and competing for, the Great Britain team. Last season I sat in the 4 seat of the Men’s 8+. However, at the moment I do not know what seat I will be sitting in for the upcoming season. Our selection regatta takes place in a couple of weeks.
What’s your biggest rowing accomplishment to date? And your future goal?
Last summer we won a Bronze medal at the World Championships in Plovdiv, Bulgaria, which is my biggest result to date. The ultimate goal has to be to win at the Olympic Games, if that isn’t the goal, then I don’t know why anyone would put themselves through the hours of training that we do.
What does your typical training week look like?
A standard training week for us is pretty full on and typically consists of 18 sessions which vary in length from around 90-120 mins. We will do a strength and conditioning / lifting session three mornings per-week and will row at least twice every day. Finally, we will train every other Sunday too! In terms of intensity, it varies a great deal depending on what stage of the season we are in, and what events are coming up.
What Firstbeat data and feedback do you look at and use the most to understand your training or performance or fitness?
I try to use the Firstbeat software as much as possible. It lets me gain a better understanding of my body, so that I can make improvements in training, and ultimately perform at my best when it comes to competition. I will use my Firstbeat Heartrate belt first thing in the morning to check my resting heart rate. This will allow me to preempt if my body is rundown or I am getting sick.
Furthering that, before each session we will discuss with our coaches what training zone (intensity) we want to be in. Using the results from step tests I know the heart rate parameters that define each training zone, so I can follow them closely to ensure that I am training at the right intensity. Finally, the Firstbeat software provides EPOC (Excess Post-exercise Oxygen Consumption) analysis and recovery time needed from a given workout. Over time, this information has allowed me to understand how my body recovers from certain types of sessions, meaning that I can perfect my recovery strategy.
Do you use the Firstbeat Sports iPhone App and what do you use it for?
Yes. I try to do the Quick Recovery Test once per day.
Effective recovery is a key part of an athlete’s life. How often are you below 30% recovered or above 70% recovered?
While I was at Princeton I found that I was regularly under 30% recovered. I have since realized that this was a combination of the demands of both the training I was doing and the academic commitments that I had to fulfill. I now try to keep my body as close to 70% recovered as I can but during the harder blocks of training this is not possible. There was a period during last summer when we were on a training camp and my Firstbeat data (via a Suunto watch) told me that I was 0% recovered and was 143 hours from being fully recovered!
What’s your Max HR? And how long can you sustain a HR 5-10 beats from your Max while rowing?
My max heart rate is around 192, I can sit 5-10 beats off this for almost the entirety of a 30-minute Erg test.
What’s the highest Training Effect you have achieved in a training session?
I have had a couple of sessions where I have seen Training Effect of 4.5. These are few and far between, but it is nice to know that I can push myself into these zones.
Erg tests are a big part of a rower’s training. What’s your personal best 2000m Erg time?
My 2000m personal best is 5.43.0. My average heart rate for the piece was 178, with a max of 190. My EPOC rose to 95 ml/kg in that time.
What else would you like to see from Firstbeat?
I would love to be able to see my data for Average HR, EPOC and TRIMP (Training Impulse) plotted onto graphs so that I can easily look at the development of my training and how my body is reacting to different workouts.
(Editor’s note: This is something provided with the Firstbeat Sports Cloud. See here to learn more about the features available)
If you could be a professional in any other sport what would that be?
This is a hard question, and one that I’ve thought about a bit. As a kid I would have said rugby without hesitation, and if somebody told me that when I finish rowing I could play, I would grab the opportunity. But I’ve gotten to know so many other sports that appeal to me. I would love to have been a professional road cyclist. The team atmosphere, toughness of racing and tactics all make it hugely appealing. Similarly, being a Premier League soccer player would be an unreal experience. In terms of a US sport, hockey, football or basketball were all great to watch, I would have loved to play them a bit.
The most influential coach and/or athlete you’ve learned from or look up to?
In terms of athletes, it’s pretty cool to be on a team with guys who I looked up to when I was just starting out with my rowing career.
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