After watching the Boston Marathon I headed over to a local university for a health study including HRV, Cortisol (blood and saliva), and some questionnaires. It didn’t go very well as I was stressed trying to find the lab before I walked in and was immediately ordered to relax in a waiting room filled with the New Yorker magazine and dated newspapers. The information was exciting for me as I wanted to get the kubios data of live stress tests, and wanted my nocturnal cortisol. I had a catheter for blood and it was nearly ready to go. Unfortunately some technical matters didn’t let me go, but I was actually relieved. The cortisol cotton swabs were more than twice as big as before, and imagine putting a AA battery in your month made of cotton to pick up saliva for two minutes 6-8 times. Yes I will upload videos to youtube when I edit some of the clips as other subjects are not thrilled with the handycam I brought. My mouth felt so dry after one I thought I ate half a dozen saltine crackers. I did only once before the session was terminated from some technical problems (I will be doing virtually the same study later this summer) it reminded me how much I hated getting saliva, something you would think would be a breeze. It make me wonder how many people actually go through great lengths to get information on what is really happening. I don’t mind and consider it a hobby, but I realize that GSR is most likely a better solution as we need just enough information.
I use a lactate tester three times a year max. Usually it’s a few lab rats but never a team. Some teams do CK tests weakly and some do cortisol multiple times a day, making me wonder if athletes are compliant with meals and other constraints of getting data. Urine is also a problem, as someone has to collect and test, and much of the information we need is the recovery period, a time period away from the training and competition facilities. What to do?
The art of biochemical is getting just enough information to make decisions, not to make cool graphs that are borderline astrology charts. I prefer comprehensive tests done a few times a year with blood, HRV done daily, and now TMG done twice a week at hot zones (historically and statistically at risk regions). I am really excited to see what Jose Fernandez is presenting this year at BSMPG as I think his holistic view is going to change North American approaches to be both rich in sport science and practical. Jose works and understands athletes, and we need to treat them less like race horses and more like people. Organism or human development is nice, but it’s really about helping Diego with his speed or rehabilitating Stefano with his left adductor tear.
At the end of the day I would rather have a good mood tracker, sleep monitor, daily HRV, quarterly blood screens, and good speed/strength/conditioning records. It seems that every good presentation I have seen on training athletes always include stories of what was going on with the athlete in question, not the physiology but life periodization. I have just started playing around with Track and Share and hope to know more about the undercurrent of the athlete and not just a random number.