Lets talk about training logs. These can come in all sorts of form and fashion, ranging anywhere from a simple handwritten notebook to a highly sophisticated computer program. For example, I use Training Peaks online software for my own logging and for client plans. But regardless of what you use to track your workouts, the act of logging can be an important aspect of your training.
Lets start with the basics, what do I log? well, really its whatever you want. Typically, most people at least track their distance, average pace, and RPE (rate of perceived exertion). With these basic pieces of information, an athlete (or coach) can track over time how mileage has differed at points in the training cycling, be able to see gains (or losses) in speed, and how a particular workout felt in relation to the same workout at a different point in time. Now there are an almost infinite number of other things you can record in order to get the most well rounded picture of a training progression. For instance, you can log information such as average and max heart rate, graphical changes in speed, weather conditions, shoes worn, bike ridden, water temperatures, diet, power, weight, even clothing! The more information you log, the more of a well rounded view you get of what is going on with the training.
But why should I track my workouts? Don’t I already have a good idea of what I’m doing inside my head? Well, yes, but even those of us with the best memories can’t usually recall exactly what we did on say, November 17th, 2012 for the morning workout. Tracking workouts can have a few very important benefits. The main thing is that you can see your progression over a period of time in terms of how your training has improved, declined, or been static, which can help you to plan further workouts. If you see that what you’ve been doing for the past few months hasn’t yielded any improvement, you can plan accordingly and make some changes to your workouts. This same mentality can help plan for races as well. If you have a clear chart of what your training results have been recently, you can get a clear picture for how an upcoming race will play out, what kind of effort to give, and what your limits are. It can give a little bit of ease of mind on race day as opposed to just showing up without a clear plan.
Who benefits from training logs? Well… everyone who has a need for your information, so mostly, you and your coach if you have one. For you, it can give clear evidence of improvement, or regression. For your coach, the benefits are pretty similar to the benefits to you. A coach can look at training history, see what types of workouts sparked the most improvement, see which workouts you didn’t really respond to, know what time of day works better for key workouts, how you deal with dietary factors, etc.
Logging workouts can be a very useful strategy for your training, so there’s no reason to not spend the few minutes a day doing it!