Training Diary – A Holy Grail or an Inconvenient Commitment?

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A training diary is your non-living training buddy that has all the personal data about yourself. Find out why you should start using it!
Starting to fill in training diary plan

In order to become a successful athlete, you need to set goals and work endlessly. But is working hard enough?

As important it is to work hard, it is equally important to work smart. It is super easy to lose focus when the pressures are high.

A well-organized training and rest schedule is essential in having the most efficient and beneficial training sessions.

How to keep track of your progress and health? Is a training diary really the solution?

Let’s find out!

What is the training diary?

A training diary is like every other diary that consists of valuable data that is clean, correct, and up to date. In order to have a successful training log, you have to have different worksheets, plans, and calendars.

Usually, the training journal is set up in a 12-month diary, but may not follow a calendar year.

Example of a training diary spreadsheet for gym – image source

The most simple form of a training diary is just writing down data for training type, volume (time, distance), competitions, and conditions.

If including more personal data about yourself, your feelings/motivation, and nutrition, you will notice how your body and mind react to different training sessions. 

Useful data to always include

  • General Data
  • Heart Rate Data
  • Subjective Parameters
  • Mental Parameters

NB! Do not record every detail of the data that you can think of. If there is too much data, it will take too much time to analyze it.

How a training diary will help you train better and smarter?

A training journal might be one of the most valuable items for an athlete. It helps to plan and organize future training sessions, analyze the process, and keep an eye on the recovery process in order to avoid over-training.

When taking notes to your training diary, keep in mind the symptoms of overtraining

Workout log helps to select the best training schemes or avoid some common mistakes that were made in the past and turned out to be unsuccessful for the athlete.

The right focus and motivation

Waiting to see your progress, training after training might get very frustrating.

It is easy to lose focus of the bigger picture and lose appreciation of small steps and victories.

Taking your time and writing down important data helps you to understand your progress and appreciate even the smallest steps of progress.

This way you can analyze weeks or even months’ worth of data and regain confidence in your training. 

Over time, athletes can see how strong or how fast they have gotten, compared to exactly where they’ve been a month or a year ago.

Noticing patterns

Recorded data in a training diary will become more and more useful in time.

At first, you might not understand or know how to analyze your stored data. Within months or years, you will start noticing and understanding patterns.

Like having more energy after easy training sessions or losing energy and motivation after long nights spent for traveling or partying.

Or even analyzing your training scheme before an important competition will help you to fix and optimize your training process.

That is very much relevant for amateur athletes. They are mostly ready to train more and harder, but often do the wrong things that won’t move them in the right direction.


Understanding what led you to your victories or success is a very important part of a self-reflection process.

For example, what led you to your personal best achievement or what actually makes you feel positive and motivated after or before training or competition.

This kind of information allows the athlete to replicate good performance and avoid repeating a bad one.

Like data about training, recovery, and nutrition are essential for this kind of self-reflection.

Mental strength 

The practice of writing down your thoughts and feelings in the training diary is very helpful for an athlete’s mental strength.

Writing down your positive or negative emotions helps you to understand and control them better.

Over time it will make an athlete more focused on his goals and resilient to depression or burnout. 

Avoiding over-training

The problem of over-training arises when athletes underestimate the value of recovery and push their bodies to the limits.

In a simple manner, if an athlete exercises, his body actually starts to “breakdown”.

Following the completion of the training session, the body will begin to “rebuild” during the recovery period.

If the athlete starts training too soon during the recovery period, the body will simply begin to “breakdown” before it has fully recovered. If this happens repeatedly, the athlete is prone to overtraining injuries. 

Thanks to a training diary, the athlete can keep track of his recovery periods and avoid future injuries or even mental imbalances that come from over-training.

Ways how to prevent injuries in sports
How to prevent injuries – simple ways what to include to your training diary

How to get used to this new habit called training diary?

Anything that helps you to improve yourself gets a warm welcome straight away, but keeping a new habit is a skill of its own.

At first, It’s easy to get blown away by all the positive outcomes of a training journal, but the basics are the same as if starting any other new healthy habit. 

Start small and slow

Figure out your goals, that are realistic and down to earth, and put them down in your training diary.

Analyze what kind of data do you really need to collect daily/monthly/yearly and weather you see actual value in them.

Make it as easy as possible 

When creating your custom workout log, make your research, and try to find as many different templates as possible to choose from.

Don’t be afraid to tweak it from time to time and if you see something that isn’t comfortable to use –  change it!

Your training diary should be as easy and as comfortable to use as possible, so every time you start updating your data, you look forward to it.

Keep the habit at any cost

Creating the habit and actually sticking to it might be the hardest part for the first year.

At this point, you might not see the full picture or know how to use or analyze fully the collected data.

Keeping track, finding the best time, and motivating yourself to fill out your training diary is essential.

Whether it is straight after your training, in the evening before you go to sleep or in the morning while drinking your first cup of coffee or tea, always take the time and enjoy the process. 

Main reasons why to keep a training diary
Reasons why should you keep a training diary – image source

In the end, is a training log worth the hassle?

Yes, definitely yes!

At first, it might seem like an inconvenient commitment that your coach might ask you to take up but after further homework.

It is clear that a proper training journal will make you a better athlete! 

Take a nice weekend to yourself, to find some nice templates, and create your own custom Training Diary and stick to it!

Within just months you will be able to keep track of your progress, motivation, and health while becoming the best version of yourself as an athlete and person!

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