When a training diary starts to pay dividends

I have kept a training log for around ten years or so now. Mostly just recording swim, bike, run and strength sessions and any data my Garmin would provide from these sessions. I also recorded my weekly body weight. This alone has been useful to go back through and look for reasons why I may have been injured, or why in one race I arrived in better shape than another, and breaking down a training session or a race.

In mid-2016 I started to collect a few more bits of data like oxygen deprivation sessions, mobility sessions, using swim cords, meditation and I also started to collect my body composition information every week.

In 2017, I started to also include any rehab sessions, any body maintenance sessions like using foam rollers, massages and all hours worked.

In 2018 I started to collect sleep data , (time, quality, etc), daily step count, diet quality, stress levels, motivation levels and towards the end of 2018 I started to record when I use compression clothing, when there is a family events and when I take a nap.

In addition to this, in August I started to log all my daily food and drink intake on good and great days but didn’t record any information when my diet wasn’t all that good….. more on this soon.

In June 2018, I started to give each day a ranking, if I am moving closer or further away from my goal. I call this my Target Chart. In August 2018 I started to rank every training session in regards to how valuable that session was.

At the start of this year I have started to record my morning muscle soreness and my daily body weight.
There is a trend here. Over time, I have slowly started to collect more and more data instead of just jumping in hard and fast with the data collecting and falling off shortly thereafter. I developed new habits slowly over time so I can stay consistent over the long term.

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Nutrition Log
As already mentioned I started to track everything that I consumed on good days and great days since August 2018. As of this year I have started to record everything that I ate and drank every day. I use a notepad and I will write the time, the food intake and calories. Nothing flash, just pen and paper.

I know there are many great apps out there that can do this easier but I have found over many times of trialling and failing, that I am more conscious about what actually enters my mouth if I have to write it out instead of hitting a few buttons on my phone.

This nutrition log has proven to be more valuable than I could ever have expected. I really have been creating a blue print on what is working for me and how I can change what isn’t working. More on this in a minute.
Looking at everything:
While I have been collecting all this data over the years, from time to time I look at it and take some small valuable information from parts here and there, that help shape what I will be doing in the months ahead.

Over this past Christmas period, I took everything I had collected and really started to break everything down. I made lots of notes, wrote comments and really delved into everything I had on record. A few things that stood out to me are:

  • My diet quality for a week was significantly higher when I would have oats for breakfast. As one snack I would have some rice crackers and for another snack, a nut bar, and on these weeks when my diet was on point I would also meditate two to three times a week. Any time I only meditated once during that week, my diet quality was not as high.
  • My cycling fitness would show signs of improvements when I would add a strength endurance ride on the Monday after a weekend of a long bike and gym session on the Saturday and a long run on the Sunday. However the improvements were not as obvious if the Monday ride was more of a recovery ride.
  • I need to spend around 2-3 hours a week focusing on recovering my body or the quality of the sessions are not as high. These recovery sessions include mobility sessions, using a massage stick and Venous Drainage.
  • I noticed with my sleep. My training quality, weekly volume and motivation levels were all higher when I would get between 47-49 hours sleep per week and the more sleep I would get during a week (50hrs, 54hrs, etc) the less value the sessions were, the less volume I would do and the less motivated I would become.  This actually took me by surprise.

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Diet Quality in 2019
My race weight has always been around 78kg. I would often just lose a heap of weight over a training block and start walking around with a six pack and say I am race weight ready. At the start of this year I was weighing 81.8kg. Now I am currently weighing 77.1kg and I haven’t got a six pack yet, however I am by far leaner all over, legs, arms, shoulders, etc. I have never experienced being this lean before and I still have some fat left to lose as I still only have a four pack!

Every day this year I have been writing down everything I have consumed. I haven’t had a “cheat day”, however I have had some “cheat meals”, and on each occasion this was when we would go out with friends and family.

I believe the success of this was the result of my focusing on what really worked from the diet log I have been recording since August last year, and I am also focusing heavily on what isn’t working for me since I have started recording everything consumed from this year.

As I mentioned, I have been recording my diet value every day since early 2018. The rankings for this is:
1. Horrible
2. Poor
3. Average
4. Good
5. Great

This year I have 6 great days, 7 good days, 5 average days, 0 poor days and 0 horrible days.

I will do a follow up blog on this in May when I race 70.3 Busso.

Tim Egge

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