One of the less obvious but most powerful reasons to keep a training journal is the motivation that can be derived from the journal. Both the practice of physically writing down your hard work, and the later reflection back upon this compiled work you’ve done are wonderful confidence builders. Many of us have busy lives, and often, once we finish a workout in the morning, it’s, Quick! a flash shower to get the sweat off, slurping down some coffee while trying not to get crumbs on your work clothes, and off to drop kids at school and head to work. The day continues until you’re home, have a whirlwind evening, maybe a glass of wine, and then the comforting softness of your pillow calls you to come to bed so you can get up once more! (Maybe this is just my life?!)
When in a period of stress, having your training to look back on is a great tool for centering yourself, calming nerves, or giving yourself motivation to persevere through an injury. If you’re facing nerves due to a race, looking back on the methodical, cumulative work you’ve put in can assuage those fears of ‘I’m not in shape! I’m going to bomb! I’ll not make it that far/that fast!” If you’re in a flurry of work activity, it can be helpful to pre-plan your workouts, even if they end up being shortened. This can help ease the stress of worrying about missed runs/workouts while also helping to keep your body’s energy levels in check and giving you a break from work to spend even 10-15 minutes in a familiar activity. When facing an injury illness, I find it helpful to look to past periods of injury recovery and see what I did, and what worked or didn’t work. If I notice that I jumped back into training too aggressively, or I was dealing with injury-related emotional ‘blues,’ it can be helpful to know that I have been in this slump before, and I know that I’ll be able to come out of it. In these cases, think of your training journal as a friend who comforts, supports, and brings hope to you. It’s also fun to just admire how much work you are capable of doing!
This next few weeks’ challenge is simple: look back at your training journal (your new one, or your online training log), and find something(s) that give you confidence in your training right now. They can be big things (race results! months of being injury-free!), or small things (nailed the first workout in a long time, or, enjoyed the Halloween decorations as I ran around the neighborhood). If you’re seen gaps in your training log, figure out why: are you traveling for work? Were you flattened by an illness? Did you take a break due to injury and just give up on writing down your thoughts? All of these are valid reasons – so in the next few weeks, recommit to spending 2-3 minutes each day to write down what you did. Actually writing down a few notes instead of just relying on the digital record from your watch will add insight and help you to realize just how much you’re doing and where you’re going.
Enjoy the Halloween holiday this week, and keep up the good work!