I enjoy listening to Podcasts while I run. Lately I have gotten a lot of miles out of Trail Runner Nation. The banter back and forth between the two male hosts (Don Freeman and Scott Warr) is always fresh and funny. They also bring on some high quality guests that deliver very practical knowledge that anyone can apply. Recently they had on Lanny Bassham. Lanny is not a runner, but does know a plethora about competing and winning. He has Olympic Gold and Sliver medals in International Rifle Shooting and many other achievements. He also is a consultant to PGA pros, the Navy Seals, and many more high performing people. He was discussing the idea of mental management and how this effects performance. They go into detail about why someone does well in practice and not well in the actual event as well as always thinking positive and only think about the negative when coming up with a way to solve the issue that brought on the negative. The podcast is worth a listen. The one point that really hit home is the idea of a performance journal.
I enjoy writing things down, but until recently I did not have a good way to capture all the things I wanted to remember. Like most runners I keep an online log. Almost all of my running data is contained in attackpoint. Over the last year I have started to use Strava. There is something about the look and feel of it that draws me to it. I also enjoy looking at segments to see how my running has improved or declined over time. I think an online log is a valuable tool for anyone, especially those using a Garmin to track their runs. I personally have always been searching for something more. I wanted to track more data and do it more conveniently. I have tried many online and/or computer based systems including evernote and simplenote, but nothing stuck. I finally went back to the old school and started to just write things down with a pen and paper. This quickly evolved into a pencil, highlighters, and a nice Moleskine notebook. The act of writing helps me to remember and it does not require anything to consume or produce information. There is something wonderful aboperut flipping through a notebook of hand written data. Around the beginning of this year I found a system called the Bullet Journal. This has become the basis of my performance journal. One major item in the Bullet Journal System is an index or TOC where you record were you wrote items. This makes it quicker to find what you are looking for. This is what works for me. You must find your own solution and it must be something you will stick with in the long run.
My performance journal consists of everything that is important to me. This includes my long term running plans, performances on certain trails or courses I run numerous times in a year, nutrition ideas, sleep, weight, how I feel each day, daily tasks that need completed, what I completed each day, events, projects that need done, notes from sermons, ideas that just pop in my head, knowledge that comes from reading or listening, part numbers and maintenance for my vehicles, and so much more. There is a daily entry that lists each task that I need to do that day, the foods I ate that day, how much sleep I got the night before, how I feel, and notes from the day. I also have 4 week tables where I list the quick details about my run plans, actual runs, and how I feel. This is the quick look section that will be helpful in the future.
The fun part is looking back at the data I have collected and seeing how it impacted me. For example this morning I was feeling pretty bloated and a little blah. A quick look showed me what I ate over the weekend and gave me some insight into how eating that way makes me feel. I also just found a longer term use case. My online training log showed a few very minimal weeks leading up to Old Dominion in 2012. I did not note any long term patterns, just the runs. That was 2 years ago and I cannot fully remember why I had those low mileage/time weeks. Had I been keeping a performance journal and not just an online running log I could have easily looked at the trend of how I was feeling, what I was eating, how I was sleeping, and what I was thinking and gotten some major insight into the situation. This is where the performance journal will pay dividends. We should never forget our past mistakes, but remember them and learn from them so we do not repeat them. When we encounter an issue or a problem and we solve it we must record this solution. This way if the problem arises again we already have a good understanding of why it happened and how to solve it. Every competitor who wants to get better should keep some form of a performance journal.