Track It!

Today’s post is all about training logs! Many people think that training logs are only for people with training plans, or only for people who are ‘serious’ about their climbing and never play in the gym. Nothing could be further from the truth! Tracking what you’re doing with your time in the gym is valuable for climbers of all skill levels and ages, even raw beginners.

Some examples of what your training log can do:

  • Allow you to see progression and improvement 
  • Document and prevent over training, keep track of ‘tweaks’ and injuries
  • Prevent you from rewriting history with overly-rosy or overly-critical lenses
  • Help you set goals and hold yourself accountable to them
  • See how your motivation and interests change over time
  • Inspire confidence, as a record of commitment and effort
  • Allow you to reflect on past training and plan for the future

In the gallery below, I pulled a couple examples from my winter training log, to illustrate how I’ve been tracking my 1+1 training wheels workouts. In a more commercial gym (1st picture) everything is graded, and I’ll sometimes keep track of grades/colors in detail. In the bouldering gym where I normally train, I just keep track of the angle. For the second hour, when I’m working on harder climbs, I sometimes take more detailed notes, but usually not.

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What should you write? I think there are three things that every training log should capture in some way–status of injuries, difficulty, and training volume.

The first two items are fairly straightforward. All climbers are prone to injury, but you’re at extra risk if you’ve recently increased the difficulty or volume of your training, or both at the same time. If you do get injured, your training log can be an invaluable tool to help you figure out why.

In my logs, I always keep careful track of training volume–how many routes I’ve done or attempted in a particular session in the gym. The original inspiration for this post was my realization that when the gym is crowded, I don’t get much done and I’m overly negative about my own climbing. Your training log can help you see what affects your training volume, and adjust it according to your own goals.

For some, the climbing gym is a place to see and be seen, and a great place to socialize. If you don’t have a training plan, it can be easy to get distracted and climb a very small number of routes or problems during your time at the gym. For new and intermediate climbers the most important thing to do is get lots of volume to develop and refine your technique. You don’t have to stop being social–but be aware of how it affects what you’re able to get done in the gym!

If you do have a training plan, it can be difficult to stick to among all the opportunities and distractions in the gym. Instead of finishing your planned warm-up sequence, you get sucked into trying the new sloper problem with a crowd of your friends. I use my training log to see how well I’m sticking to my training goals and plans. I try to find a dynamic equilibrium between doing planned and structured training and seeking variety and inspiration.

Below the cut, check out some thoughts from climbers @Senderhq and @drglasner on tracking training, as well as a couple do’s and dont’s for your training log.

Do bring your training log with you every time you go to the gym

I’m glad you asked about it because now I feel motivated to get back into doing it. I got a ton out of it. Just like comps, knowing that your workout is going to be written down and reviewed makes you try a lot harder. Plus, I could always spot when I was overtraining by the fact that my numbers were going down or becoming inconsistent. And you always knew when you were screwing around when you compared it to the previous day. @Senderhq

Don’t avoid writing when you have a bad day or a bad session–you want all the information you can get!

Do write as much or as little as you want

It’s nothing crazy detailed, just a way for me to track what I did, how I felt, and what works and what doesn’t. It also allows me to look back and say “oh, I got injured after doing these exercises at this intensity for this amount of time” or something like that. Just useful overall, at least for me. @drglasner

Do keep note of motions/routes that made a part of your body ache or that caused you to ‘tweak’ something

Don’t  worry about sticking to a format to your entries. Just get something written!

I don’t really have a consistent shorthand… I just try to note anything that’s relevant: number of attempts, quantity (if doing laps), features/slope (overhang, crimps, slopers, etc). @Senderhq

Don’t wait until the end of your session, or until you get home, to write

Do use your training log to reflect and set goals for yourself!

At the end of the week, I’ll mark whether or not I made my goal. I’ll write out any other thoughts from the week (great overall, but need to work on compression, etc.) and what I want to focus on for the following week. I do the same at the end of the month. Especially at the end of the month, it gives me the chance to reflect and determine what was most effective, what to carry over, and what to maybe drop. @drglasner

Many thanks to Dustin and Skip for providing their thoughts and examples of their training logs!

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