Keeping a training diary is one of the best things you can do as part of your training. It takes some effort to get going with. Use it, and you’ll notice a difference.
Making a training diary work is about it fitting into your lifestyle. There are no rights and wrongs here, just a series of individuals making their own choices.
As long as you regularly fill it, you are keeping a training diary.
You want the diary to record the training session you did and how you felt during it. It is that simple.
You may supplement it with more information as you get into it, but to begin with, that is all you need.
Ritual What I love about my training diary is the ritual I’ve created around it. I get to sit down after the session and write it. I feel like I’m extending the benefits of the session and reliving it afterwards. I know there’s some sessions you don’t want to ever relive, but there’s always so much learning in those “bad” sessions.
There are no “bad” sessions, but we can have runs where we just get home and want to throw the shoes in the back of the cupboard.
Suppose you can explore what was going on for you around that run, cultivate some curiosity. In that case, I can guarantee you will learn a lot.
A training diary will allow you to look at the progress you are making each week as you turn up and train. It provides a written body of evidence about how far you’ve come as a runner. It can be a real source of confidence and motivation when it comes to a race week. When those pre-race nerves kick in, and you are tapering so you don’t have running to help move some of that anxious energy, it is really challenging. Getting out your training diary and seeing all the hard work you’ve done, seeing those quality sessions written down. I assure you it will provide a soothing balm for those nerves. It’s the confidence boost we all need.
Your training diary can be anything you want it to be.
There are so many options when it comes to keeping a training diary.
Pen and Paper Why not keep it old school? I find it rewarding to use pen and paper to write with. It can be sporadic in my world. The advantage of this is that the diary will be private. It might encourage you to be more honest if you know others aren’t reading it.
Your phone We have them on us all the time. I really do appreciate what phones have given us. I do want to encourage people to step away from them whenever possible. That leaves me mixed when encouraging someone us their phone.
It might be in a password protected Notes section or use it to connect to your online tool (see below), but if you can make your phone work for you, then go for it.
Spreadsheets This is how I’ve kept my training diary, it’s also how I work with many runners I coach. I love being able to use the spreadsheet work for me. Having it automatically add numbers up, perhaps using graphs to track weight, resting HR or sleep.
Accessible from your phone, iPad or computer and easy to share with a coach, a spreadsheet has a lot going for it.
Going online There are so many online platforms where you can upload your runs and make notes in. From Garmin Connect to Strava and beyond, you can find something that works for you. If you own a GPS watch and tracking your running that way, you can upload the sessions online and really dig into the data. Potentially too much data? It does feel at times challenging to find the wood from the trees.
There can be a struggle in sharing honestly about how your run went online. Weoften project our best selves online and don’t use it as a platform to perhaps discuss the stresses going on that are affecting our running.
On the other side, the social features of these platforms can be so beneficial. Giving others’ kudos’ or ‘likes’ can give you that boost of motivation you need when you are struggling to get out the door. On another day, it might be your run which motivates someone else to get out the door.
Strava Club Full Potential is on Strava. Why not join our Strava Club and share some love? It’s great to see how people are getting on with their training: https://www.strava.com/ clubs/FullPotential
The Danger Zone One danger of using any numbers based tracking system is that it’s effortless to get frustrated or disappointed with the numbers coming out. It’s vital you keep the training in perspective and an eye on the bigger picture.
The only day your pace is going to matter is on race day. Everything you do before is just training for the big day, and you are more than likely training too hard if you are looking for Personal Bests in training.
The other worry is when we start comparing our runs to other people. As I spoke in my expectations blog last week, having this weight can really restrict our training. Be careful. Think about the type of person you are. Are you likely to see someone else’s run and find that frustrating? If so, maybe an online diary isn’t the way to go. And that is ok.
Potential Tracking Areas I like using a daily tracking questionnaire as part of my diary. The information I collect is:
Resting Heart Rate Hours of Sleep Morning Weight How are you feeling
By tracking this data each day, we can build a better picture of how you are doing overtime and spot patterns in training.
Resting Heart Rate is a significant bit of data to have. It is a way of monitoring your fitness and making sure you aren’t coming down with an illness or overtraining. If you see that drop in resting heart rate, it might be time to ease off training a bit.
Hours of sleep allows us to see how a bad nights sleep affects training. It might be the consequences only come out a few days later.
Morning Weight can help us look at hydration levels overnight and see any trends appearing. Only use this measure if it is something you are happy to record, and it most certainly is not necessary.
How are you feeling can be a simple 1 - 3 scale. With 1 being below average, 2 being average, and 3 feeling above average. Or you could just jot down a few words.
By writing these things down, you can see how you are doing. It gives us pause for thought about how to approach the coming day.
Smart Tech Make technology work for you. Creating a reminder each day to write about your training can prompt you to jot something down.
I like to make my notes on the previous days training in the morning. That way, I’ve had a chance to sleep on the day and write down what was important to me. That’s what I’ve found works, and it’s up to you to experiment and do it your way.
Your training diary will evolve as you do as an athlete. Take some time to think about how you are going to start yours and get going.