Normally this series focuses around specific skate skills and exercises to help you manage them. NOT TODAY. Today I’m departing from the norm to talk about the biggest game changer, needle mover, *insert fancy term for growth* that you can do to maximize your training potential.


Using the Lord’s name in vain here might be a little excessive, but I want you to listen up. There is literally NOTHING better that you can do that will change the way you train than keep a training journal.

Want to be more consistent? Keep a training journal.

Want to have constant feedback on your progress? Keep a training journal.

Want to know if you’re working too hard/not hard enough? Keep a motherfucking training journal.

This isn’t one of those blog articles that promises “one weird trick” to change your life. But if you haven’t been keeping a training journal or the one that you do keep is done on haphazardly, you should rethink your life. Here are the major ways that keeping a training journal benefits you as an athlete:

  1. Allows you to track and monitor your consistency. Training doesn’t work if you don’t do it. Keeping track of when you do it, when you’re jazzed to do it, and when you’d rather not do it can help you hack your consistency.
  2. Gives you assessment and feedback in real time. I’m a huge proponent of pre and post-assessments when you’re training. It helps you break your training into manageable chunks bookended by fun tests! But humans like constant validation and seeing that you squatted 10 pounds more this week than last week can be an extra boost of motivation that you’re headed toward your goal.
  3. Forces you to reflect when things don’t feel right (or when they do). Data doesn’t lie. It’s not there to make you feel bad. It IS there to help you hold your feet to the fire of your training. If you’ve been wrecked for 2 weeks and your training journal shows that you’ve been training 8+ sessions per week, then you have your answer. If you’re not making the progress you want and your training journal shows that you’re training fewer than 3 sessions per week with minimal effort, then you have your answer.
  4. Gets you out of your own head. Mental blocks are easy to run into when you’re constantly using your data to beat yourself up. Keeping a consistent training journal is a practice is sleuthery. You’re not using the stuff in your training journal feel bad, you’re using it to turn you into a badass. Seriously. Put your deerstalker cap on,
  5. Filling out templates is fun! What? Just me?

But, as any writer will tell you, staring a blank page is intimidating. Where do you start? What do you write? Are doodles of penises an acceptable for of data collection?

To which I answer: At the beginning. Don’t worry, I’ll show. Only if you’re collecting data on the visual aspects of penises.

STEP 1: Buy a notebook.

If you’re like me and you disappear for hours down the rabbit hole of the office supply aisle, keep it simple. I recommend a composition notebook because they’re cheap, easy to find, and have a sturdy cover. Plus, comp books are now being made in all sorts of fancy patterns and colors. If that’s what you’re in to.

There really aren’t any hard and fast rules to choosing a notebook. It should be something that:

  • You will willingly carry around to your practices and the gym with you
  • Makes it easy for you to record your training and reflections
  • Inspires you with quotes or colors or pictures of your dog or whatever other shit you like

As Voltaire said, “Don’t let perfect be the enemy of good.” If you’re searching far and wide for time immemorial to find the RIGHT training journal, you’re using that as an excuse to avoid getting started. Just pick something. You can upgrade later.

STEP 2: Write about your training in your notebook.

Simple, right?

But Prime, what do I write? There’s a quick and dirty rule for when you’re first starting to keep an training journal: WHEN IN DOUBT, WRITE IT OUT.

If you’re not sure if you should write out when you go to practice, for how long, and what you do there, then WRITE IT OUT. If you’re not sure if you should write out your rest days, then WRITE IT OUT. If you’re not sure if you should write out that you didn’t workout because you were feeling like crap that day, then WRITE IT OUT.

The bare minimum you should be recording in your training journal is your outside of practice workouts: reps and sets, time intervals for cardio, weights used for strength training, some measurement of your intensity.

This is the most basic template that I recommend starting with. Some of the information is specific to the Jump the Apex Training Program, but the template will work for almost anything.

Just like with anything else, once you get some experience under your belt in tracking your training, you’ll feel confident enough to mess around with it. Eventually you’ll settle on a method that works well FOR YOU. This is just a quick-start guide.

STEP 3: Look at it for more than just training data.

Every 7-10 days, save a page in your journal to do a free write about your training. This is where you collect the data that isn’t readily apparent from sets, reps, and weights. Were you extra tried this week? WRITE IT DOWN. Did you have trouble sleeping this week? WRITE IT DOWN. Are you stressed out? WRITE IT DOWN. Are you pregnant, on your period, taking hormones, etc.? WRITE IT DOWN.

Your training journal will become a painting of the bigger picture. Click To Tweet

It took 3 months of consistent data collection before I realized that I pull 10-20 pounds less on the week before my period. Prior to that I was just beating myself up for being a lazy slacker. It was 2 more months before I realized that when I pushed myself too hard during that same week, I was completely useless the next week.

Keeping a journal helped me adapt and subsequently meant that I hit fewer plateaus. Nice, right?

STEP 4: Use it.

The best tool in the world only works if you use it. Your training journal (just like your skates or your weight set) won’t do you any good sitting in the corner collecting dust.

That one “weird trick”

Challenge yourself to keep a consistent, detailed training journal for the next 4 weeks. While I can’t promise you’ll make your all-star team in that time or learn how to jump the apex like you have wings, I can promise that you’ll learn a lot about what makes you tick.

And subsequently, how to train yourself better.

Want more?

Learning to organize your training from keeping a notebook to scheduling your training around practice to getting your mind right is tough! Give yourself the gift of making it a tad bit easier.

Sign up below to join the Intelligent Cross Training Crash Course; a 7-day email course that walks you through the basics of:

  • organizing your training program
  • scheduling your practices around your training plan
  • making the most of what you do in your training

By the end of the 7 days you’ll have a month long training calendar completely and the basics of a training journal mapped out and ready to be filled in. It’s complete FREE and ready for you to jump in!


About IronOctopusFitness

Online athletic training and nutrition coach, full-time mom, okay skater, and connoisseur of all things tea, chocolate, and roller derby. I'll help you unleash your inner athlete by building a strong, capable body that can withstand whatever life throws at you.

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