Writing out your training has been shown to have a myriad of benefits in performance and consistency. But the benefits don’t stop there. Here are five of the things you learn about yourself when you start writing out your workouts in the water.
Over the course of improving in the water swimmers learn a lot about themselves.
You get edumacated on how hard work pays off. You see firsthand how you react and perform under certain circumstances. And of course, how you best improve.
This kind of self-awareness in the pool starts by journaling your training.
After all, when you start spending a little bit of time reflecting and monitoring your training you see for yourself what leads to improvement, it keeps you focused on being a better athlete in and out of the water, and helps you craft goals that are grounded in the training you are actually doing.
(Fun fact: tracking your efforts and regularly evaluating has been proven to work over and over again.)
When I talk to swimmers about their training log they mostly discuss the motivational benefits attached to having their training history in hand. They love seeing how far they have already improved, and it keeps them focused on the work still to be done.
But there are a bunch of other benefits to keeping a swim log that go beyond keeping the motivation burning bright.
Here are just five of the things that you learn about yourself when you start writing out your swim practices:
1. How often and when you get injured.
Swimmers aren’t immune to injury. If you’ve done more than a few lengths and felt a hint of pain in your shoulder you already come to experience the dreaded swimmer’s shoulder.
Seeing how much time you have missed to injury serves as a critical kick in the butt to make sure you are doing your part in staying injury-free over the course of the season.
Doing your pre-hab work; the stretching, mobility and band work designed to keep your shoulders healthy and functional, can be tedious. I know because I have been there as well. It was typically supposed to be done at the end of practice, which sets it up perfectly to be abandoned.
After all, after a two hour session in the water and weight lifting the last thing anyone wants to do is spend another 10 minutes doing pre-hab stuff. Using a log book to maintain consistency in this particular aspect of training is powerful, and insures that you are actually getting it completed.
2. How to be accountable to your swimming.
One of the much-touted benefits of our sport is that we learn discipline. All those early mornings, two hour sessions, the hell weeks—they not only challenge us in a seemingly endless number of ways, but they also teach us how to be disciplined.
But in essence, most of the time we are simply reacting to what others ask of us.
Our coach tells us what to do in practice, what to focus on, and what intervals to use. Our parents drive us to and from practice, and are often found in the stands making sure we are completing the practices the way we are supposed to.
As a result, for some swimmers the sport doesn’t really feel like it is theirs.
Writing out your workouts, and having that judgement-free space where you can detail the practice, what you thought of it, and how you did, helps to make you more accountable to your own swimming.
3. It shows you the trends.
When we are neck deep in training it is tough to get a realistic view of how far along we have come.
Having our training history at the ready helps us get a bird’s eye view of our swimming, which is profoundly helpful for one particular reason: it helps us see the trends in our training.
It shows you that when you have a big night of sleep you almost always have a fantastic workout the next day. It reveals that during really high intense periods of training that you tend to get sick.
This knowledge is crucial, and can give you the awareness to plan for those inevitable moments in training where you need to really be on your game.
4. What it takes to be successful.
Far too many swimmers live and die in the pool by their expectations.
Believing that they can wing it or get by on those handful of good workouts they go into the big meet with bigger expectations only to have their illusions shattered. You know what happens next—the discouragement, the “I’m not talented enough,” and the misplaced blame.
Having tracked your workouts you know precisely what kind of work you have done leading up to the big meet and based on this knowledge can make realistic goals.
Sure, it’s important to dream big and set yourself some awesome goals. But it’s also equally important not to be delusional; if you haven’t done the work in training how can you expect the performance to be there in competition?
5. How important lifestyle choices are.
It’s tempting to believe the things we do outside the water don’t carry over into our practice. That the things we do outside the pool are left at the door when we stroll in at 3pm for afternoon practice.
Whether it’s short-changing your sleep the night before, eating nothing but full-blown dumpster-class junk food all day, or not dealing with compounding stresses in your life, this stuff inevitably catches up on us.
These are just the kind of things that can and should be noted in your training log.
You already know how much better your workouts are when you get a full night of sleep; sometimes what it takes to put foot-to-butt in making better sleep habitual is seeing the strong correlation between the pool and the time you spend in your bed.