Coach Tip Tuesday: Take the Time to Log Your Workouts
And so, Coach Tip Tuesday enters a new DECADE!
As we embark on a new year and decade, I want to encourage all of you to take the time to log your workouts.
What does “logging a workout” mean? Well, for starters, it’s more than just pressing start and stop on your Garmin. ;) Logging a workout not only encompasses any data that is recorded from a workout, but subjective feedback such as:
How did you feel?? Was there anything abnormal that could have impacted how you felt during the workout?
What number on the RPE scale did this workout feel like?
What did you consume for nutrition/hydration?? What time intervals did you consume it at?
What was the weather like?
What were the conditions like of the “course”? (i.e. road conditions, water conditions, etc.)
What gear did you use?
Any funny tales that happened during the workout.
Anything else that helps to “complete the picture” of what happened during the workout.
Logging details like these in addition to any hard data is so valuable. You may think that you will remember a lot of these details and that you can record things later on, but the truth of the matter is this: You likely won't remember everything if you put this task off until later.
I strongly recommend that you build this time to log details about your workout into your workout time. So, if you have a one-hour run on the schedule, plan your day like you have a 1:05-1:10 run on the schedule. Take those few minutes after your workout to take some notes; your future self will thank you. Even if you cannot write down a “complete” log of what happened, at the very least, jot down some initial thoughts.
If you are an athlete who has a coach, your coach will LOVE you for writing these notes down. Good notes help good coaches plan workouts well; it enables them to get a complete picture of what happened. While data (and auto-uploaded data) is lovely, it doesn’t tell the complete story.
Just last weekend, one of the athletes I work with logged a bike workout and said it felt like an RPE 3. This workout was planned based on power, and the percentages of FTP that were planned should not have translated to an RPE 3. By the numbers, the workout was executed perfectly. But as we dived into how he felt, etc., I realized that this workout was too easy for him. THAT told me that he was ready for a new FTP (Functional Threshold Power) Assessment, which we scheduled for the following week. Sure enough, he had a 4% increase in his FTP. If he hadn’t logged notes about how he felt, I never would have known what REALLY happened in that workout. As a result of him doing that, his workouts are now more dialed in and precise for where he currently is.
If you are a self-coached athlete, YOUR coach (that would be you) would also benefit from having notes to look back on. When you do something similar in the future, you can look back on your workout log and see how things went, how you felt, and that can give you some ideas about what will be best for you to do.
There are so many ways to log workouts. Some examples are: a word processing document, in a journal, or an online training log. I personally use Final Surge, which is a FREE tool for athletes to use and can link to most other fitness platforms (including Garmin and Strava) to sync your data.
Make 2020 your most reflective year yet; take the time to truly log your workouts so you can learn and grow from your experiences! (And perhaps avoid making the same mistakes twice. ;) )
Coach Laura Henry
Laura Henry is a Syracuse, NY-based coach who is a USA Triathlon Level II Long Course and Level II Paratriathlon Certified Coach, USA Cycling Level 2 Certified Coach, VFS Certified Bike Fitter, and has successfully completed NASM's Certified Personal Trainer course. Coach Laura is passionate about helping athletes of all ability levels reach their goals and has coached many athletes to success.