When I was first approached by Cercacor about trying out the Ember device in April of 2015, I knew very little about hemoglobin other than it changes when you go to altitude. Boy was I wrong in my assumption that altitude shifts is all hemoglobin is good for measuring!
This little device helps me see how my body is reacting to training as well as to changes in elevation. Most people look at hemoglobin as a static number, but it changes based on the stimuli you give your body.
I now use my Ember every morning and night to monitor the effect that my training workload has on my body. I look at the hemoglobin numbers in the morning and compare them to the night before and see what the trend is.
If I see my measurement increase in the morning, I know that I have recovered fairly well. When my number decrease, I review the previous night’s reading. I look at how much the change is away from my normal range. If this change is dramatic I know that my body is not adapting to the training and I might need more recovery. If I have several readings in a row where my hemoglobin is decreasing, it likely indicates that my body is tired and I will talk to my coach about how to amend my training.
In addition, I use my Ember before and after hard workouts. I have noticed that immediately after a very hard workout, my hemoglobin number rises a lot due to the changes within my blood concentration. I have also found it very beneficial to take another reading 20-30 minutes after a workout – as this reading shows me how my body is in regards to hydration. Hydration effects your blood plasma concentration and can have a big influence in workouts. Sometimes a higher hemoglobin number will be due to dehydration.
Overall, taking measurements on a regular basis gives me insights into how my body changes day in and day out. My coach and I look at these numbers and make sure that they are responding based on the intensity and recovery of my training program.
The more useful information I have about my body and its response to workout intensity and other factors, the better I can train and compete.