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US Ski Coach Mike Day Talks Training with WHOOP
Ski coach Mike Day discusses the value WHOOP data has for him both on and off the mountain.
Hello WHOOP community. My name is Mike Day, I am an alpine coach with the United States Ski Team. I am currently back home after recently completing camps in Mammoth Mountain, CA and Copper Mountain, CO for our first on-snow preparation period for next winter’s competition season. I have been coaching for 25 years at various levels and ages throughout the country. I was born and raised in Maine, which is also where I began my coaching career at Carrabassett Valley Academy at Sugarloaf, ME. From there I moved on to the Park City Ski Team in Utah before later joining the US Ski Team for the first time. I coached in Salt Lake City in 2002, then moved on to a stint with Fischer Ski Company before rejoining the US team. After that, I took a break and worked at Green Mountain Valley School in Waitsfield, VT for a few years. I departed there in 2015 and am now going into my sixth season with the National Team. I never thought I would be back on the World Cup Tour, but here I am.
How Does WHOOP Help Make Me a Better Ski Coach?
As you can see from my experience, I am now officially old… I turned 50 this year, so at this point in my life optimizing my sleep and recovery is of extra importance to keep up with the rigors of the job. I want to talk a little bit about how I use my WHOOP and what I see as my most beneficial data. I think I can speak to many in the community about how motivating this device can be, the data does not lie. My fitness levels have consistently been a struggle for me throughout the years, and now I feel like I have a much clearer understanding and path forward with my WHOOP. I travel around 220 days per year and work in a high-stress job--I am responsible for the programming of one of the most dominant athletes in the history of ski racing. The daily expectations are incredibly challenging (not to mention the difficulties brought forth by the global pandemic), and we continue to produce positive results.
Sleep, Recovery and HRV
The data that seems to drive my work performance the most is coming from sleep, recovery, and heart rate variability (HRV). We work in a very harsh environment and have demanding hours. I need quality sleep. We do not take many days off during the competition season, so my recovery numbers are important to keep me going day after day. HRV has also been extremely telling for me. In the heat of the competition season, away from home for months on end, my HRV was a bit scary. It was consistently in the teens, now that I am back home (or at least in the USA), I am seeing significantly better numbers in the 30-55 range.
Mike's HRV improved dramatically following the conclusion of a long competition season on The Road.
This tells me a lot and helps me to formulate management strategies moving forward. I am also happily married 20 years, and have two kids, a 12-year-old-girl and a 14-year-old-boy. I believe the same data that helps me perform at a higher level at work also helps me perform at a higher level at home. These metrics are usable for all parents on a daily basis.
Competing During a Pandemic and the Road Ahead
To quickly touch on COVID and my last competition season, it was extremely difficult. We were on the road and away from home for more than 6 months. This year (and most years) all of the ski races were held in Europe. For Americans with no home base, we lived like gypsies, from one hotel to the next. It proved to be a very challenging and stressful winter. Nutrition, sleep, recovery--you name it, we struggled with it. It felt like COVID was closing in all around us most of the year.
Traveling and other stresses during the pandemic negatively impacted Mikes' daily Recovery.
I am now happily vaccinated and seeing some light at the end of the tunnel. I was fully vaccinated for my last trip and it already felt slightly more normal. While I don’t believe we are completely out of the woods and I’m sure we will still see control measures in place next year, we are definitely moving in the right direction.
A return home, better sleep, and a growing sense of normalcy helped mike get back in the green.
I look forward to sharing my adventures from now through the season ahead. It will be a very interesting preparation with many foreign travel restrictions still in place this summer. As always, we will find creative ways to get on snow and get the work done. Thanks for joining me, and stay safe out there.