Ember by Cercacor

In today’s world, middle-distance runners are running faster than ever before and every competitive edge matters. Most people know that in order to run fast, you need to train hard, but what many people don’t realize is that recovery just as important. When you stress your body and break down your muscles, you need to recover to build back up stronger than before. Living at altitude in Big Bear makes this especially difficult since the amount of oxygen (which is required for recovery) is much lower than at sea level.

That is why Ember, a device developed by Cercacor, has been so key in my success as a middle-distance athlete living at altitude. Ember works by taking instantaneous and non-invasive measurements of biomarkers in the blood using a device that clips on the end of your finger, and displays the results on your phone through the Cercacor app. This makes it extremely easy for me to take quick and accurate measurements that help me make decisions about my training.

The Ember biomarkers that I use most frequently are pulse rate, oxygen saturation, hemoglobin, and PVI (pleth variability index). If my pulse rate is higher than normal, that usually either means I am sick or not fully recovered from the last hard workout I did. I also use pulse rate to test out how different recovery methods affect me. For example, seeing that my pulse rate drops after doing cryotherapy or spending time in the hyperbaric chamber tells me that these recovery techniques really work for me. I use oxygen saturation to know exactly how much time to spend in the hyperbaric chamber. If the value is lower than normal, then I stay in the chamber until it reaches its normal value. My hemoglobin readings have helped me keep an eye on my iron levels. This is especially important at altitude, since the live high train low philosophy, which is the foundation of my training, only works if I have enough iron in my blood. Being able to take multiple reading of my hemoglobin allows me to understand what type of workouts affect me the most. Last of all, PVI is used to indicate a person’s fluid volume trend, and is also especially important at altitude where the humidity is so low. It shows me which workouts leave me the most dehydrated, so I know that I need to drink more water on those specific days.

Although these are the biomarkers that I use on a day-to-day basis, all of the biomarkers can be used as a benchmark to tell me that something is off if the numbers fall outside their normal range. This has really helped me be more in touch not only with how each workout specifically affects my body, but also how the different recovery techniques affect me, and how my emotions affect me. Ember has helped me recognize that even being angry or stressed can throw off my numbers, reaffirming that a positive and happy lifestyle leads to the greatest training gains.

Using Ember has been both helpful to me as an athlete and also to my coach, who no longer has to guess how I am feeling or whether he is pushing me too hard or too little. Integrating it into my daily routine this past year played a huge role in getting in good consistent training year-round and staying healthy all the way through the World Championships with no interruptions. Whether you are an Olympic athlete or a new runner training for your first 5k, Ember can help you like it helped me, train smarter and reach your goals.