Keeping a Training Journal

author : Glenn
comments : 0

Without a doubt, we begin to notice patterns in our training performances. We notice when our good and bad days repeat themselves in our logbook.

What are the benefits of keeping a training journal?
For many years, I elected to not keep a training logbook for purely superstitious reasons! Some years ago, I experienced a nagging injury. At the time, recording a journal became very frustrating because it did not make satisfying reading. So, I abandoned the idea. Shortly after this, the injury corrected itself but from that day on I did not record my training as I did not know how long I would be able to train for! At the time, I thought it made no sense because I was running the princely time of 10 minutes a day! As my mileage increased, I got out of the habit of keeping a logbook until recently!

Valuable information
Using one again has made me realize what valuable information we gain from these training logs. Without a doubt, we begin to notice patterns in our training performance. We notice when our good and bad days repeat themselves in our logbook. This information really helps us prepare for a race because we know when to “back off” from training. As athletes, backing off (i.e. reducing training volume/intensity) is one of the toughest challenges we face. Through the logbook we have good evidence of the need to rest. Of course, we can choose to ignore the information but when the proverbial wheels fall off the bus, we have even more reasons to explain our “sudden decline”

I use the words “sudden decline” in inverted commas because there is seldom a sudden decline. The signs are usually there for a while. We either choose to ignore them or we simply have not yet understood what the signs mean. Sudden changes in performance can occur through injury. But, if your logbook contains your comments, you can often see the development of the injury over a few days.

This observation brings me to another point. The comments and observations you make as the journal keeper. Record your thoughts and feeling after each session. I believe they are valuable indicators. Take your thoughts seriously because they provide insight into your mental make-up at the time. When you are tired, mention you were tired and maybe a reason why. When you go back in your journal, you will pick up your mood quite easily. You might even notice your lethargy. Some days we do not feel like training. Its important to identify reasons why. Perhaps the training load is too much or too intense or maybe you are pressured at work. All these factors influence the training output. Recording them in your journal helps you be less critical of yourself. This does not mean you now have useful excuses however. It simply provides insight into your current performance levels.

What can you keep in your journal?
I keep the following information: my waking pulse, weight, number of hours slept, my willingness in training, things like that. I also record what session I did, duration, intensity, average HR, max HR, route I took etc.

Confidence booster

Keeping a journal can be quite a confidence booster. When you look back, you notice your progress. You see how much faster you have got over a period of time. Of course, you might also notice that your performance has not improved that much…you may even have “plateaued”. By going back into your journal you can probably find out why. On the confidence issue, I know a number of athletes who certainly gain motivation and confidence from their diaries. Raynard Tissink, South Africa’s leading Ironman triathlete and winner of IM Korea and IM Canada, is one example. He finds his journal motivating when he looks back at his training progress.

South Africa is a run-crazy country with a strange fascination for ultra-distance races. The greatest race in this regard in South Africa is called The Comrades Marathon. This run attracts some 16,000 runners every year to complete a 90km (about 54miles) run race over some of the meanest hills in the country! The best exponent of this race is Bruce Fordyce, who won the race an unprecedented 9 times consecutively in the 80’s and 90’s. Bruce lived by and used his logbook to great effect. He kept detailed notes on all his races which he feels was crucial in his setting his incredible record. You could keep a race journal too. You pick up some interesting trends in your races on drinking, nutrition, conditioning etc.

A journal usually works very well for someone who struggles to maintain motivation or training momentum. However, even if you are self-motivated, you still gain some great insight.

A potential pitfall
There are definitely a few athletes who are overly analytical about their training. A logbook can be cluttered with too much analysis and detail. Be careful of this! The classic saying “paralysis by analysis” is to be avoided if possible! Remember the primary reason you are training and racing is for enjoyment and relaxation and of course for some results. Use the journal with these central feelings in mind so the journal doe not get you “bogged down.”

Happy journaling!

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date: February 13, 2005

Glenn

I am an elite duathlete here in South Africa. I compete in Powerman Long distance duathlons around the world. Had some good results in the last few years like 4th in Japan, 5th in Malaysia, 6th in France and South Africa and recently 15th pro at Powerman Zofingen.
Was ranked 16th in the Powerman world rankings at the beginning of 2003.

avatarGlenn

I am an elite duathlete here in South Africa. I compete in Powerman Long distance duathlons around the world. Had some good results in the last few years like 4th in Japan, 5th in Malaysia, 6th in France and South Africa and recently 15th pro at Powerman Zofingen.
Was ranked 16th in the Powerman world rankings at the beginning of 2003.

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