Performance – Time of Day

Fun fact – I. Love. Numbers. Always have, always will. So of course I’m always looking for ways to play with data. Now that I have a full-on love affair with ClassPass, I have enough data points to start looking at some of my habits. Of course, most fitness folks probably don’t care about this at all, but I thought it might be fun to take a look at some of my own patterns to see how I might be able to make my workouts more efficient/productive/etc.

I definitely prefer to workout in the morning. I don’t know why, but anything after about 3PM, no matter how low key my day has been, just makes me feel totally wiped, both during and after the workout. The best way I can think to measure actual vs. perceived effort is by heart rate. Unfortunately I don’t yet own a heart rate monitor (but one is on the way that will sync up with my Garmin!), but I’m planning on starting to strap on that baby as I take similar classes at different times of day. I’m excited to see if the heart rate data corresponds to my mental perception, or if the fatigue really is just in my head. I’d love to know if you know of other ways to measure level of effort.

Since I don’t yet have the monitor, I thought I’d start fiddling with the data I do have, just looking at my class history. Because I have a very flexible schedule, I have the ability to book a class at any time of day. While I am sometimes restricted by when classes are offered, many of the studios I visit regularly have classes in the morning, midday and in the evening, so I’m not placing too much weight on class time restrictions. The results may seem a little “duh” based on what I’ve just told you, but I clearly prefer morning classes.

Frequency of time of class

As with all statistics, context matters. My natural sleep cycle is from about 2AM – 10AM. I know, I’m out of whack, but when I truly go to sleep when tired and wake up on my own, these times have been consistent for at least a decade. I find this graph very interesting, that I gravitate toward classes clustered around 10AM. Could this be because this is the time of day that I feel most rested?

I thought I should also look at exactly what kind of activity I’m doing at these times – perhaps there is an energy expenditure pattern there?

Activity by Time of Day Jan 2015

Holy yoga spike, Batman. Taking this into account, it looks like my major energy expenditures through spin and rowing are split across that 10AM/11AM line. While the after 11 classes aren’t quite as tightly concentrated as the morning classes, that seems like a good time to draw a line in the sand, given my natural rhythm. After seeing this split, I am really eager to give the heart rate monitor a go and see my level of effort around this cutoff line. Or perhaps there is another cutoff time for peak performance?

Do you track stats like heart rate when exercising? And when is your favorite time of day to workout?

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