“Why am I not reaching my training goals?”. “How did I achieve that world-class performance?”. “Could I be overtraining and need to back off?”.
Few athletes pay as much attention to their mental training, as they do their physical training. A clearly defined athletic goal set at the start of the season may be pursued mindlessly with no reflection or adaptation to keep the results coming. A business would never set their budget at the start of the year and wait to see what happens in 12 months’ time. They do their accounts regularly, adjust expenses, and adapt their goals in relation to the financial climate. And just like a business, regular reflection enables athletes to evaluate their training, identify what works and what does not, and make changes to enhance performance.
Keeping a training and nutrition log or diary unlocks knowledge and energy that can help athletes to break plateaus, and get faster, stronger, and more technically adept. Journaling helps athletes review past experiences with honesty and precision. This not only helps athletes to learn more about effective training and nutrition strategies, but also to learn more about themselves.
Benefits of keeping a training log
Personal experience – www.LiftLikeaYogi.blogspot.com
As a national level Olympic Weightlifter, I have experienced the benefits of keeping a training log for myself. I am currently English Champion, and my training log has been crucial in my performance as a weightlifter, and also in managing a performance lifestyle, and juggling multiple commitments as an athlete, Trainee Sport Psychologist, and Yoga Teacher.
My ‘Training (b)log’ – www.LiftLikeAYogi.blogspot.com, is a record of my training intensity and frequency, nutrition strategies, competition performance, and general self-reflection. This reflexivity has prompted improvements in my training and diet as a result of noticing patterns of energy and fatigue, it has boosted my motivation, confidence and commitment by allowing me to see my achievements, and it has encouraged others to take up the sport, by showing them the enjoyment that lifting and competing brings. I have also implemented several sport psychology techniques such as cue words, relaxation, and positive affirmations, as a result of realising the power or journaling my journey, and becoming fully aware of how training your mind, is just as important as training your body.
Swimming and training behaviour.
Young, Medic and Starkes (2009) studied the effects of keeping different types of athletic training logs on the behaviours and beliefs of swimmers. Participants were divided into two groups, with half the swimmers keeping a training log that focused on self-monitoring targeted training behaviours, while the second group kept a training log focusing on aspects of recovery and overtraining. Swimmers kept the training logs for one month, completing them following each training session. After keeping a training log for one month, swimmers from both groups showed significant improvements in adherence, punctuality, intention to self-monitor, and self-regulatory confidence.
Marathon running and nutrition.
Stellingwerff (2012) aimed to develop training and nutrition approaches, leading to individualised race-day fluid and fuelling plans for elite marathon runners. Marathoners undertook a 16 week training programme, periodizing training load and nutritional approach across three mesocycles. Runners kept s training log throughout this period in order to characterise training. Data from the training logs was used to develop individualised nutrition and training plans based on information such as rate of perceived exertion, and marathoners’ comments on the effect of current nutritional approaches on performance. The runners who took part in the study completed a marathon following the 16 week programme in times ranging from two hours and 11 minutes, to two hours and sixteen minutes. The author concluded that a training log, along with a periodized and individualised nutrition and training approach, facilitates the quest for marathon success.
Developing your own training log
Training logs, diaries, and blogs come in various formats. It is a good idea to include: