Friday, January 8, 2016

Why you need to consistently log your workouts

A coach recently posted an open letter to his athletes on a Facebook group to which I belong. The part that caught my attention was as follows:
I want to work hard! I want to give you a 100% coaching experience. But I need your help to allow me to achieve this. I can’t do it alone.
I can only coach you at the level you allow me to. I want to give you 100% so help me do that. Here is a rough estimate:
Uploading data: 40%
Comments: 40%
Feedback/Questions: 20%
Only 40% of this coach's clients are taking the time to upload their workouts and provide comments, so 60% are not. These are adult clients who willingly pay money for guidance and interaction with a coach...then ignore it! I find this astonishing, yet I've heard from other coaches similar stories of clients who pay month after month and rarely communicate back in the other direction.

These are probably the same people who think it's enough to pay for a gym membership, and that you don't actually have to go!

The thing about coaching, it is SO much more than "just" receiving a training plan. Good coaching is an interactive two-way communication process. If you want your coach to be invested in and engaged in your training and racing success, you have to be invested and engaged too.

Reasons to log/upload data and comment on your workouts:
  • It helps you to reflect on a workout - It gets you in the habit of thinking about how did I feel - physically and mentally? Did I note any pain or injuries? What went well? What could have been better? What questions do I have? Did I understand the purpose of the workout? What external factors might have played a part (diet, hydration, sleep, stress). What did I learn about myself? This is a vitally important part of the process and a great opportunity for self-discovery and growth!
  • It puts one workout into perspective. When you are recording one of many workouts on the calendar you are reminded that no single session will make or break you.
  • It provides critical feedback to the coach about how you felt. It's important that he know if you felt awesome, or tired, or overfaced, or not challenged.
  • It gives your coach data needed to evaluate performance and make adjustments if needed. Coach Jim has the experience and the analytical tools on TrainingPeaks to offer me guidance based on evidence. He does behind-the-scenes analysis I don't even know about that informs his planning for me. 
  • Consistent logging shows your commitment to your training. How much commitment and engagement can you expect from your coach if you are not doing your part?
  • It provides an objective history of training and racing. It's all too easy to forget what we have done and are capable of!  (After not feeling too great about an FTP test the other day, my coach pulled up data to show me how it was much better than this time a year ago.) 
  • It allows tracking of longer term trends and changes.
  • It is important for establishing a disciplined routine. Training is not just about the session - it's preparation, training, cleanup/refueling and logging/reflection. 
  • It's gratifying to look back at how many swim, bike and run miles were logged! No matter how things are going at any point in time, I can draw confidence from my consistent work ethic over many years. 
If you are not faithfully uploading/logging your workouts (with or without a coach), you are really doing yourself a tremendous disservice by failing to capture the qualitative and quantitive data!

I have used TrainingPeaks since June 2009 and have logged over 3000 sessions! It's been an invaluable platform for communication with Coach Jim. He posts my training plans there and my post-workout comments are emailed to him so he knows when I've finished a workout. It's not unusual to get a quick email back from him right afterward with follow-up analysis, comments, suggestions, and very often, words of encouragement. That two-way dialog and accountability are so important to me! I depend on Coach Jim in what is otherwise a pretty solitary training journey for me.

Whether you are using TrainingPeaks or a paper journal, I would just encourage you to make this the year you are faithful to recording your workouts! 

Be the 40% that logs their workouts, not that 60%! The race leaders are surely in that 40%.

workout log!