If you had asked me 6 months ago about having a training diary I would have given you an odd look. Yes I had a record of my running thanks to my Nike app but that was about it. I didn’t purposely log anything nor had it ever occurred to me that I should be. However the first thing my coach asked for when I started training was for a training diary. I have been writing a training diary since about November and now I don’t know what I would do without one.
So here is what I have leant and why I have found a training diary useful:
Using your training diary for progression and confidence:
The most useful thing I have found about keeping a training diary is seeing the progression that I have made. I don’t know anyone that trains for any sport or activity that doesn’t want to get better whether its running faster, lifting heavier, achieving that difficult move in yoga, everyone wants to see improvement. Keeping a training log or diary is the perfect way to do this; you can see how far you come.
It is also useful to look back on when you have had a tough session and really struggled. There maybe a perfectly good reason and actually it wasn’t half as bad as you think. It can be hard to gain perceptive and often you can be your worst enemy I know I am the first person to put myself down!! There are lot of different things that can affect training lack of sleep, overtraining, poor nutrition, weather conditions many of which may be out of your control so its important to note if that’s why you didn’t feel so good after your session.
You can take confidence from it when you’re feeling low. For many sports apart from some events that receive medals from completing, you can’t physically keep what you have accomplished; your diary will be the closest thing to proof your doing to get. Half of sport is mental having the mentality and confidence to keep going and get out the door is often the biggest battle. Also if you have a good session, figuring out why is important, what did you do different that day?
Using your training diary for:Training Analysis, What works for you?
“There is no knowledge that is not power. Life is a succession of lesions which must be lived to be understood”- Ralph Waldo Emerson
The more information you have, the more you will be able to figure out what works for you and where you are going wrong or areas that you need to improve on. Everyone is different what works for some will be another persons idea of hell this is the same for all aspects of training. When you look back at the information you’ll be able to see what worked before and what you found most useful, then you can tweak your training plan to include of the different aspects that worked well previously. It works just as well for other aspects of your training for example nutrition, what did you eat before or after, how long did you wait before training, did you use a gel or electrolyte drink during your session, all theses things can affects your performance and recovery.
Using your training diary for:Set Backs
No ones training is going to be 100%, you will pick up niggles or have bad sessions its inevitable. Figuring out why you developed it in the first place can help you from doing it again. You won’t learn what works well until you have tried different things out. One of the most common risks or predisposing factors to injuries is overuse so it’s important to have a look and keep monitoring it so you don’t over do it. Many people find that they can deal with a certain mileage or certain amount of particular workouts but after that point the risk of injury or niggles goes up. Knowing how much is too much will help in injury prevention and overtraining. It’s important not just in terms of overuse but for when you have to train in different conditions.
Using your training diary for: Setting Goals
Set yourself some goals make them specific to you. They can vary from little mini goals to bigger goals for the long term. If you identify what goals you have then you can use them to tailor your training towards them. Do you want to do a triathlon, lift a certain weight, run a particularly time, or just improve one aspect of your technique? The best way to make it happen is to take the time to think about the best way to achieve it. It will also help you in making and achieving goals that are more specific and realistic. Use the plan to create a gradual progression, you never want to increase your intensity or mileage by more than 5% at a time creating a plan will ensure that you increase it gradually.
Using your training diary for: finding structure
You wouldn’t set up a business or submit a proposal at work without a business plan or goal. So why should your training be any different. Also if you get into a particular routine then it will be easier to stick to it. Do you normally have a busy day at work on a Monday or have family or friend commitments/events on certain days, take this into account and have it as your rest day. You want to take as much time to plan your recovery, tapering and rest days as much as the workouts yourself. Recovery is vital so make sure you get the right balance it may take a while but listen to your body and tweak accordingly especially as your training progresses. Normally training plans are between 8-20 weeks this depends on your goals. My running plan is on a 12-week schedule. Do you train better at a particular time or day then use this to your advantage and make that apart of your plan.
Using your training diary for: motivation
It can be difficult to keep up your motivation to build up to your ideal peak. If you keep a diary you can look back on it and think, look how far I have come or look at all the hard work I’ve done so far, don’t stop now!! You can also use it to make sure that you keep switching it up and changing your routine. You can also use it integrate workout or exercise you did ages ago that was really beneficial. Just doing the same training schedule can get repetitive and boring so having it written down will help keep the motivation up and well as ensuring a variety of sessions. I’m quite regimental if it’s written down and says that’s what workout I should be doing then I always get it done. A diary can bring focus to your workout, having your goals and the bigger picture written down can get you through a tough session.