Training: benefits of keeping a training diary
Do you keep a training diary? Do you perceive that only hard core training obsessed climbers should keep one and that it doesn’t apply to you? I would say that recording what you do is worth it for climbers of all levels. I spent a period of 9 years writing everything down and I’m really pleased I did. Sometimes it can be quite funny!
Here are some of the benefits:
- It’s easier to spot patterns of what led up to success. Was there a certain volume that led to success. Did it, in reality mean you had to climb 4 times a week rather than 3? Did it mean that you ditched the climbing wall for a bit and put a big emphasis on the technique and movement required for outside confidence? Did it mean that you spent more time indoors getting stronger and fitter?
- Equally there will be patterns that lead to poor performances or even injury. Black and white does not lie. Were you in fact over training and hence knackered? Did you have a lot going on in other areas of your life, which meant you couldn’t put the mental energy into your crucial performances, despite doing everything right on paper?
- You’ll find out the kind of training that you do and don’t enjoy. Improvements in performance come from a consistent and regular approach. Do you appear to have a stop/start approach, fads of doing loads of pull ups then periods of nothing? Knowing yourself and your patterns is important to completing a realistic training period for a realistic goal.
- It’s a commonly known phenomenon that following a good performance or period of performance, you’ll have a bad period. No one, whatever their level can sustain a never ending peak. With a training diary you can see patterns rather than being totally mystified by how you can be climbing brilliantly one week and rubbish the next.
- Recording everything in black and white can help avoid injury. If you are someone who likes to pull to their max every time you climb, then it’s worth writing everything down to ensure you have sessions in your week that are lighter, rest days and rest periods. If you plan what you’re going to do and write it down it will stop you completely flogging yourself on that extra go or set. You’ll also notice patterns, which mean you put over emphasis on exercises that lead to elbow, or shoulder problems.
A keen training period
Things to include
- What you did (type of exercise or climb)
- The amount you did (how many routes or sets)
- The grades you climbed
- All other non climbing activities such as running, yoga, stretching, walking etc. They all take your energy, even if you think they are not related.
- Your rest days. Taking rest is vital – and spotting at a glance where you were taking a lot or not much makes looking back at patterns in your climbing easier.
- How you felt: did you enjoy the session, or if it wasn’t say why
- Your energy levels: separate this from grade. Sometimes you can feel like you have no energy but climb well and vice versa. Recording your energy levels enables you to track if you are heading towards a poor performance
Where possible include anything else going on with your life e.g. busy periods of work, family commitments or stressful personal issues. All these things will have an impact on how hard (or not) you try when you are climbing or training
Record it in a manner that means you’ll actually do it. It’s all very well having a fancy excel spread sheet, but pointless if you normally barely go on the computer.
Record your ‘training’ during training periods AND climbing periods. Obviously you’ll put part of the year into what you may consider ‘training’ and part of the year into ‘climbing’ or ‘performing’, be that indoors or outdoors... Good climbing performances come out of what’s happening in your training periods AND the climbing periods combined. You need to record it all.
And what have I learnt looking back on all those diaries? I spent an awful lot of time training really tired – left to my own devices I’ll just try as hard as I can every session. Also I find it really hard to somehow not end up on that really hard boulder problem or route that all my friends are trying... Having a plan gives me a bit of discipline. But equally there were long periods of no plan – in which time I would do very little training and lots of climbing. I guess it depends what you want to achieve...