Try this new way of logging your training to help identify poor performance or injury. While Strava and other online platforms are great at tracking your stats and engagement, keeping this quick and easy side log can really help you identify issues if they go wrong.
1. Start with a sheet of paper or computer spreadsheet. Starting at the top of the page, number each row or line down the page from 0 to 21. This will correspond to the 21 days prior to the injury or poor performance. Why 21 days? It’s often called the training lag and it reflects the phenomenon where training seems to catch up to you after three weeks or so. Due to this training lag, it’s important to look back the full 21 days when trying to identify the cause of your problem. Experts say that nearly every poor performance or injury was birthed during the previous three weeks.
2. Avoid using a calendar; use a column in order to stack the days one on top of another. The body only knows what you did to it yesterday and the day before and the day before. It doesn't know Monday or Sunday. It knows "tired from speed session" or feeling rested and recovered". So the columns help lay out the days in a series.
3. For each day document the training stress for the day. "easy run, fartlek, long run, vertical etc. Training stress is often a "revealer" and it becomes easy to realize if you have piled up too many stressful training days together. You can also use this column to take note of things that could impact the stress like weather, terrain etc.
4. Now go over the calendar and circle any stressful training days. These will be your key workouts, as well as any day you can remember where you maybe experienced more stress like running too fast, challenges with weather, perhaps your breathing was off etc. Look for how many circled days are stacked too close together and that's likely what led to your poor performance. This becomes a powerful tool moving forward to avoid the problem in the future.
5. If this doesn't reveal anything, do the same thing for your recovery and rate your recovery using something like great, normal or compromised. Usually things like not eating enough after your long run, feeling really dehydrated or your sleep patterns were disrupted will start to show and this could be where your recovery took a tole and issues started.
6. Lastly, look at stress. I am talking about your life/work calendar. Car broke down, kids were sick, something caused extra stress in your life or you were busier than usual. These, too, can cause poor performance.
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