Do Yourself This Favor and Keep a Training Log
We all like to see that we’ve made progress. No matter what your goal is with training – to lose weight, complete a Spartan race, compete in your first weightlifting meet, be able to touch your toes, or make the varsity soccer team – visible progress has more power than any other motivator to keep you focused and persistent. Moreover, most of us like to know how we’ve made progress. I work with enough runners at IU and adults at Force day-to-day to know that most of us have a system to regularly assess our progress and determine where we are in relation toward our goals. But, most of us won’t be able to answer the question, “how exactly did you make that jump?”
The problem is, you are a busy person and time flies by without you making note of it. Before you know it, months have gone by and you are still training weekly, maybe even daily, all of your training sessions for the past year have blended together. You’ve lost a few pounds, but you don’t know exactly what changes you made to finally shed it off. You have more energy in the mornings, but you don’t know what you did to feel differently. You can now deadlift 20 more kilograms than you could 6 months ago, but can’t pinpoint the lifestyle and training changes that got you off your plateau. Maybe now you’re at another plateau in relation to your goal, and you want to know how you made the jump the last time. Let me ask you, do you track your training?
If your answer is no, here are a few reasons why you should start:
For the first time, you’ll see the whole process of your training spread out for you like a map. This is the remedy for the days all blending together. You’ll begin to see trends in your progress. You’ll see ups, downs, and plateaus. Even further, you’ll begin to associate them with certain lifestyle and training changes you made at different times. You’ll become aware of all the factors that combined to help you make desired progress – and those that didn’t work.
Keeping a training log will help you take steps forward the next time you get stuck. If you can identify the factors that helped you make your last desirable jump, you can start moving past the rut you’re in. It’s not ensured that the same lifestyle changes or training regimen will work this time, but at least you’ll have a place to start.
You’ll be able to re-experience a big part of your life when you look back. If you consider your training to be a big part of your life, your training log can act like a journal. I’m going to go out on a limb and say that most of us don’t keep a journal where we write down our emotions, daily experiences, or big life events. A training log can call to memory all of these things through the lens of daily or weekly workouts. It sounds so cheesy, but going back and reading my running log is one of my favorite ways to reminisce on my collegiate experience so far. When I read about my past runs, I fondly remember them in context of who I was with and what was going on during that time in my life.
If any of these reasons sound appealing to you, here are a few ideas for starting to keep a training log:
Identify the type that will be most convenient and effective for you. Some of my adult clients take notes, date them, and keep them in their binders with their programs. I use an online running log called running2win. Some of the weight lifters have a paper journal dedicated to their training. Maybe you’d like to keep it simple and vomit your thoughts into a single Word doc. There is no wrong way to keep a training log.
Be consistent. The most effective training logs have no gaps. Make it a habit. Set reminders if you need to until it becomes as much a part of your training as your sets and reps.
Log more than just your sets, reps and weight. Jot down any dietary changes you made, how much sleep you got, who you trained with, your mood coming in and out of training, big life events going on, or all of the above. Remember, training encompasses all of these things, and I guarantee you your road to your next PR has more to it than just your workouts.
Happy training, and happy logging!