Ok, so the connection may seem unlikely. Van Wilder, the 2002 film starring the oh-so-gorgeous Ryan Reynolds *drool* features an outgoing student who has spent the last seven years at college. Instead of focusing on studying and graduation, he throws parties and “fundraisers”, all the while his dad pays for his tuition. Not exactly the inspiration for hard work that you would expect from a CrossFit goal progression post.
Yes, he may be lacking in drive and dedication, but to give him credit with years of college experience behind him he gives out the occasional nugget of wisdom… however it’s not his life lessons that make him the talking point of this post. It’s what he says after each golden truth…
“Write That Down”
When I first started CrossFit I felt a massive buzz of doing something I’d never done before. The mix of strength training, high intensity WODs and technique work made me feel a sense of achievement like running a race every session. But soon I started to come across things that I couldn’t do, or couldn’t do well. I quickly realised just how much space there is to grow in CrossFit, and how much progression can be made.
And we’ve all had bad days, that’s for sure. Going in for a lift and bottling it last minute. Doing a WOD and getting a score you weren’t too happy with. It’s the hard sessions that always stick in our minds. But how can you let a single session get you down if you can’t compare like for like? Did you lift the same weight in the WOD as the last time you did it? Was your time actually any slower than before, or was it just slower than someone else?
This is where Van comes in… write that down!
A training diary can be the difference between losing motivation and achieving your goals. I once heard someone say:
What gets measured gets managed
A good training diary is a living breathing journal of your training sessions. Whether it’s the squat session you did followed by a killer box jump and wall ball combo when your legs felt amazing and you practically flew through the session with a flowing cape behind you, or the 20 minute technique work you did at the box after a WOD. Write that down! How else are you going to keep an accurate track of what you do?
Benefits of Keeping a Training Diary
As well as just being a good way of keeping track of the sessions you’re doing, there are loads of other ways keeping a training diary can benefit you:
1. Ensuring you get a good mix of training sessions
Have you ever looked back on your week’s training and realised you worked on pushing movements every session, but missed out pulling? Or you went heavy with cardio WODs but skipped on strength? This is where keeping a training diary can help. When I wondered why my bench press hadn’t improved 6 weeks after our 1RM (1 rep max) testing, I could look back at my training diary to see I’d only trained bench press twice. If you’re not following a specific plan you can easily lose track. Look back at your sessions, assess, and plan.
2. Setting realistic and achievable goals
When I first started CrossFit I had no idea what I could lift. I went entirely on what those around me were doing. Soon, with a training diary slowly building, I learned what weights I was capable of shifting, and what movements I could and couldn’t do. I can now use the information in my training diary to gauge the speed at which I am progressing to predict and set goals which I know will challenge me, but that I can achieve if I work hard. If I wasn’t keeping track, it could be all too easy to set a goal that my body’s rate of adaptation will not allow me to reach.
3. Celebrating achievements and personal bests
Yesterday I climbed up a rope for the first time. On Saturday 1st March I got my first double under. The other day I cleaned 40kg no problem but two weeks ago I struggled with 35kg. I know all of this because I made a record of it. Without this information to hand it would be difficult to keep track of my progress and see how much I’ve improved. I know that when I look back on my training diaries from now in 6 months time I hope that I will be lifting heavier weights and performing movements I never could.
4. Spotting patterns in your strengths and weaknesses
By recording information about your lifestyle around your training you can spot and monitor patterns. For example, I usually workout at 6am on weekdays, and after a late night my training can be affected. Or if I’ve eaten a heavy meal the night before. By recording this information in my training diary I can see what helps me perform my best, and what makes me lag. This is especially powerful when you know what to record. See below for tips on what you should log.
5. Being accountable for your training
Keeping a training diary makes it harder for you to blow off a session. If you know you’ll have a gap in your diary where your session should have been, or (even more likely to keep you accountable) a missing entry in an online training diary, you’re more likely to push the excuses aside and get yourself down to the gym. Sometimes your best sessions can come out of the almost missed sessions!
What You Should Log
This depends on what level of detail you want to go to, but in general it’s a good idea to record:
- Date and time – comparing a morning session to an evening workout is not going to work, likewise different days if you work on shift rotation for example
- Energy levels
- Duration of session
- Heart rate
- Fuel (pre, during and post)
- Session details (what did you do? E.g. snatch technique followed by Fran)
- Score (e.g. time or number of reps)
- Weights used (or assistance e.g. pullups with a band)
- Solo training or with a group?
Do you keep a training diary? What do you include? Have you found it helps you to stay motivated and on track?