Using Day Strain to Adjust Workouts: A Mail Carrier's Story
An avid recreational athlete, Angela McCloud participates in CrossFit, yoga and weightlifting, while frequently training for half marathons too. She also regularly walks up to 12 miles per day simply by doing her job.
Angela is a postal carrier in Fairport Harbor, Ohio. “The majority of my activity actually comes from work,” she says. “I have about three hours of total driving over the course of a week, but my routes are mostly residential walking. I cover an off day for each of my regulars, so I have five separate routes. They run from 7-12 miles each, plus whatever I get for overtime. Normally, I plan my workouts based on which route I have that day. There’s one tough route where I won’t do anything afterwards–it’s absolutely not going to happen. It’s the longest route with many, many stairs. It’s something that just makes you exhausted by the end of the day.”
Even with the knowledge of how far she’d have to walk each day, it was still difficult for Angela to find a happy medium between work and working out. The fitness wearable she used previously tracked her steps and monitored her heart rate, but it didn’t tell her the cumulative effect her work day had on her body.
“I used to do the same CrossFit routine every morning,” she says. “It was terrible because I didn’t know my body well enough, I didn’t know how much Strain I had each day. I started using WHOOP so that I could plan my activities around my actual Strain, not just on what I was thinking I was going to feel. I always know how much distance I’ll have to cover, but what if it starts raining, or I have extra packages, or I get overtime? The WHOOP Day Strain accounts for all of that. Having the data at the end of the day, I can say to myself ‘OK, I worked a 14 Strain today, maybe I should save the workout for tomorrow and get to bed early tonight.’ That’s an incredible use of information for me.”
Angela makes great use of the Sleep Coach as well: “I usually work out in the morning. Knowing when to go to bed so that I can wake up at a certain time to exercise and still be able to perform well at work is extremely valuable to me. It’s awesome to have that information at available my fingertips.”
With her alarm clock set for at 6:30 am and her Sleep Performance set to Peak, Angela usually checks the Sleep Coach before dinner, then does her best to get in bed by the recommended time. She also checks her Day Strain and will often push back her wake-up time by half an hour if her Strain is higher than expected, or do yoga instead of CrossFit or jogging.
Here’s a look at a recent month of her Sleep Performance data:
Angela achieved 100% of her Sleep needed to Peak in 18 out of 30 days, and never once dipped below 70%. She also hit 100% every Monday, starting her work weeks off on the right foot.
Below is her Strain data for the same month. The blue bars indicate Strain from workouts she logged (the very short blue ones are from yoga):
Saturday, May 13, was Angela’s highest Day Strain (19.5) since getting on the WHOOP system. She competed in a half marathon in the morning, and then also did a two-mile “fun run” that night. Why? “My boyfriend signed me up for that,’ she says. “He thought it was a different Saturday.” She then took it easy the next day (Sunday, May 14, an 8.2 total Day Strain) in order to prepare for the week ahead.
“There are definitely routes that I’m more stressed out on than others,” Angela adds. “Some have more parcels than others. And since my routes rotate, if you look at my Strains you can often see diagonal lines (emphasized in red above) throughout the calendar.”
Additionally, the weight of what she carriers each day plays a big role in Angela’s Strain: “We have to hold a satchel at all times for safety reasons, even when dismounting to deliver parcels. Our dog spray is on there, and we can put the satchel between us and some sort of obstacle if we need to.” She carries the satchel on her right arm, and letters and magazines in her left.
“Tuesdays are always rough,” Angela notes. “That’s the day we deliver the Redplum advertisements (which go in every mailbox). They’re just really really heavy, carrying them on my shoulder all day.” For this reason, Angela rarely works out on Tuesdays (marked with a “T” above), regularly her highest-Strain work days.
“Now I plan my schedule around my WHOOP data,” she concludes. “It really helps me in my day-to-day life.”
Takeaways for WHOOP Users
- Look for patterns in your Day Strain outside of working out. Are there certain days in your schedule that consistently cause more or less Strain than others? If so, plan the Strain of your workouts accordingly.
- Distance traveled is not sufficient when understanding the Strain from a run, walk or bike ride. Consider adding hand weights to your walk or run if you want to make the same route more strenuous.
- Take your previous night’s Sleep Performance into account when deciding on a morning workout. Don’t push it if you’re not ready to peak.
- Get in the habit of checking your Sleep Coach before you sit down for dinner. This can give you an opportunity to adjust your evening routine to ensure you’re getting to bed at the right time.
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