The ability to self-regulate

  • Psychologist Gunnar Borg developed the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion (RPE) system to help athletes evaluate exertion during training in the 1980s.
  • Self-regulation and “perceptometry” are key concepts related to the use of exertion scales to monitor personal perceptions during exercise.
  • Listening to their body’s signals and keeping track of sensations allows athletes to adapt their training, avoiding overtraining and promoting well-being.


In the early 1980s, a Swedish sports psychologist and scientist named Gunnar Borg developed a system, the Borg Rating of Perceived Exertion, useful for athletes to better adapt to their effort levels. At the end of each workout, effort should be quantified on a scale ranging from a minimum of 6, equivalent to no effort, to a maximum of 20, the maximum effort. A bizarre numerical choice that nevertheless has a very specific meaning: that of indicatively taking up heart rate figures. Therefore, an RPE (Rating of Perceived Exertion) of 12-14 would correspond to 120-140 beats per minute.

Self-regulation and “perceptometry”

Borg initiated the concept of “perceptometry,” and over the decades effort scales have been increasingly used in various sports. The concept common to all is that of self-regulation, or the practice of monitoring one’s perceptions at the end of exercise and adjusting accordingly.

In endurance sports, heart rate monitors help runners and cyclists monitor the intensity of the work they are doing in real time. Runners tend to obsess over their running pace, which on some days can fall short of expectations for a variety of reasons: poor sleep quality, accumulated stress, poor air quality. This will also be found from the heart rate data.

How to self-regulate your training

A first good habit to start adopting is to note down how you felt at the end of each workout. Some apps such as Strava and Training Peaks have a special section that will allow you to not only keep track of your feelings but also have a historical record. The more data you accumulate, the more you will learn about yourself and it will be easy for you to figure out when the time is right to open the throttle rather than taking a day off. This simple practice will help you avoid the pitfalls of overtraining or “overtraining” and the negative impact of it. Overtraining looks no one in the face, regardless of whether you are an elite athlete or an amateur. It is as ruthless as it is democratic.

Listen (and welcome) the signals

Knowing how to self-regulate is not only a practice related to objective data. It is also and above all based on strictly personal feelings. Pressing the pause button means taking care of your own. A body that sometimes sends us signals that we should start listening to. Because let us remember that training should never be understood as a form of self-punishment.

Self-regulation means knowing oneself. Do not limit oneself but on the contrary open oneself to new and different options.

(Via insidehook)


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