Want to see improvement in your training? Take the time to write it all down.
Organization is undoubtedly one of the biggest keys to training effectively. Put simply, when there is none, training quality suffers. Starting a journal or training log is one of the most effective ways to systematize your training and keep track of the highs and lows for future reference. “Journaling is the only way over time that you’ll know you’re improving,” says Dr. Barbara Walker, a sport psychologist at the Center for Human Performance in Cincinnati.
Even the pros know the benefits of putting pen to paper to keep track of their training. This is what led American 5K champion Lauren Fleshman and Irish Olympian Roisin McGettigan to create the Believe Training Journal. “My journal is a daily pat on the back, kick in the butt and source of motivation,” says Fleshman. “I have places for goal setting, tracking and race reviews, which help me stick to the big-picture perspective.” She also notes that her journal helps her identify what does and doesn’t work in her training, as well as ensure she’s being cautious when coming back from injury. Check out a week of her journal, as well as Dr. Walker’s critiques, on the next page.
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(a) “Stating a goal is really important for an athlete. It is what gets you out the door to train each day.”
(b) “She keeps things simple by noting the type of workout she did, which allows for comparison in the future. Some athletes prefer to include more details, like sleep and nutrition.”
(c) “The pluses and minuses are a nice visual to show that there is more positive than negative. Also, after a bad day, it shows that she bounced back.”
(d) “It’s great to see that she notes when she goes to the gym and yoga. Since her main thing is running, it helps to organize the supplementary work.”
(e) “Telling herself to ‘be safe’ is significant. A lot of athletes don’t listen to their bodies.”
(f) “It’s important to celebrate the good runs. Then you can look at the day before when she wasn’t feeling great and see that the next day’s run was a success. This helps you see what’s working and what isn’t.”
(g) “She’s positive and feeling consistent. This reflection at the end of the month lets her compare performance over time. It also offers a glimpse into her perception of how the workouts went in that phase.”