Logbooks: More than just a way to keep track of mileage

I have been a dedicated logbook user since 2016 when I started using the Believe Training Journal series. Before that, I kept track of mileage through Strava, because back then I was chasing QOM’s on my bike! But, honestly, I wish I knew before that the power of writing down your thoughts. At least for me, I have a lens that I can reflect back upon what I have been doing in training and in life. In a way, it’s therapeutic, rewarding, and a great way to relive this adventure and journey.

As I have been keeping track of my thoughts, my mileage, my workouts, massages, etc., I have been very careful not to be critical as I look back upon what I have done in the past. While I do think it is good to look back upon what you have done in the past with training, to learn from what worked and what didn’t work, it is essential not to judge your current-self compared to your previous self. What do I mean by that? I mean don’t be your own worst enemy, don’t compare times in workouts and emote sadness, anger, or frustration; look back at what you’ve done to gain strength and confidence in what you are doing now.

Keeping track of what you’re doing is not just helpful for yourself but for your coach. So if nothing else, help your coach out and write down some thoughts about how you felt while you were doing your various workouts. I’ve started an additional weekly log book for my marathon. I sit down every Sunday afternoon and do two things; first, enter my upcoming training (and races) into my calendar for the week, and, second, I’ve been answering the following questions about my weekly training:

  • What type of training week was it? (Mileage: in kilometres and in minutes)
  • This week’s focus was:
  • Workouts completed:
  • What was your toughest moment? What did you do to overcome it?
  • What did you learn this week?:
  • Did you race? If yes, talk about it a little

I’ve been keeping track of this in Evernote. I’m open for feedback; if you think there are other questions that I should be asking myself please share them with me. And if you would like to see what I’m writing and I am open to publishing my thoughts via my blog and social media.

Not currently using a log book? Below are some traditional paper options, along with some more modern app or web-based log books.

  1. Believe Training Journal – There are now three in the Believe Training Journal Series, Believe, Compete and the Logbook. I often go back, not just to what I wrote in Believe and Compete, but to the exercises that Ro and Lauren developed in these two books.
  2. Blank Book or Blank Calendar – Head to your local bookstore or Amazon and buy a notebook or calendar (weekly or monthly). Keep track of the basic things: i) mileage (miles or kilometres and minutes), ii) type of workout (intervals, mileage run), and iii) generally how you felt, which can be just a simple plus/minus.
  3. Strava – The social media of working out! If you pay for Strava Premium you get access to a few more metrics about your workouts. You do need a heart rate monitor to take advantage of the features of the Premium series, but it is worth it for the ~$60. It allows an individual to make comments on their workouts, so as long as your coach is on Strava they will see what you’re doing. Get on Strava and start handing out some ‘kudos.’
  4. TrainingPeaks – I learned the story of the start of Training Peaks through the VeloNews Podcast (it’s an awesome podcast if you’re interested in exercise physiology). While I have never used TrainingPeaks I know many of my friends, coaches and athletes, who all really like it. It’s like Strava but with out the social part of it. It’s for you, or for you and your coach, to share training. It also comes with a whole bunch of tools that help monitor and assess everything from your workouts to your recovery.

Really these are just a sample of the ones I have been exposed to. I know there are so many great options out there. You just need the one that works for you.