As a coach to high achievers seeking ultra endurance dominance, the two most asked question I have for my athletes are, “how did you feel?” and “are you motivated to train?”
Sometime ago you signed up for an ultra endurance race, be it a triathlon, a cycling stage race, an adventure race or maybe an ultra-marathon. The nature of the race, doesn’t matter. The countdown to the race doesn’t matter. What does matters is that you had the desire, intention and discipline of doing that event well. Over the winter months, you went through the motions of training letting the “auto-uploads” log your daily training, thought about a comment you could write but you’ll do it later or just allowed the numbers to speak for themselves assuming that was good enough. Life got full, time was precious and conditions were undesirable for you to find two minutes to write helpful observations in your training log. Winter training seemed to matter less to you. "Champions are built in the off-season” doesn’t apply to you.
The pivotal ingredients to becoming a better, stronger, faster and smarter athlete are daily reflections and the desire to train, full stop. Numbers and data help us quantify the dancing body and thinking mind.
How an athlete resonates with the training process is far more important to potential progress than mailing in a half-baked effort. How an athlete applies each training experience to a future session or a target race is far more beneficial than coloring boxes green. Simply going through the physical motions is the perfect path to unpleasant plateaus and staleness.
Training logs are the window into an athlete's mind, heart, emotions, fears, desire, motivation and spirit. Since ultra-endurance athletes spend exhaustive amounts of financial, physical and emotional resources on and in their sport, finding two minutes every day to look inward and reflect seems like a worthy effort given the return on investment. The discipline and habit of logging notes after each session is incredibly more constructive use of time than that five minutes spent creating a social media post about your run stats or FTP results, which are Just Not That Interesting.
We lost a running legend last week, Sir Roger Bannister. Best be sure, Roger did not have a social media feed, an ANT+ Garmin nor any fancy training software. His access to training devices was minimal but his reflections on what it took to run a mile in 4 minutes or less was highly calculated with observations and self-awareness. We can also be sure he was communicating daily with his mentors and coaches on how each session felt, how his body was recovering, how he was managing injuries and how he would apply his practices when it counts.
Have a look at an example of Bill Rodgers’ 1974 training log https://runningscience.co.za/elite-athletes-training-log/bill-rodgers/
“Leg a little achey.”
“I’m getting back up there!! Ya-hoo”
“Did not run twice today. Too tired.”
Sometimes a few simple words says it all. Sometimes a deep dive into the color is required. Write whatever helps you express your experience succinctly and with insight. With this new age of smart devices, software programs, entertainment gaming and social media access, athletes tend to escape reflections with technology challenges, Zwift malfunctions, fallen GPS signals, dead batteries or syncing issues.
Knowing and understanding effort is invaluable to athletes seeking performance. Devices help us quantify what was already qualified. When we can accurately bring the two worlds together, we gain a deeper look into the complete experience.
Taking time to write your training observations opens doors not only for your coach to coach you with more insight and understanding of you as a human being with budding athletic potential and goals but it also engages you with the process towards excellence and personal greatness. To recognize, to be aware, to be present in the moment and to connect with the chain of events in a written format is a fundamental part of endurance training.
So I ask you, “How did that feel?” “What was your desire to train today?” Write it. Daily.