How to use a journal to maximise your performance in 5 steps

How to use a journal to maximise your performance in 5 steps

In our first ever blog we covered the reasons why all athletes should keep a journal, so in this blog we’ll outline how athletes can use their training journal to boost performance (not to mention enjoyment!) using a simple five-step process.

You can use your Run Journal for all of this and the Run Journal Guidebook (which comes in the back pocket of every Performance Journal) is there to help guide you on your way.

Read on for a quick overview of the process (each individual step will be covered in more detail in separate blogs).

1. Set your goal

First, what does performance mean to you?

Consider exactly what you'd like to achieve – and by when. Setting a BIG goal, something you’re genuinely excited about, will give everything else purpose and direction.

As well as big and meaningful, your goal should be SMART (specific, measurable, achievable, relevant, time-bound). For example, simply wanting to be faster isn’t a SMART goal, but aiming to complete a marathon by the end of June is!

Once you’ve decided on your goal, do two things:

  1. Write it down (in your Performance Journal!)
  2. Tell someone.

Studies have shown that the simple acting of writing down your goal makes you more likely to achieve it). There’s power in putting pen to paper.

And, telling someone you trust (or even posting it on your Instagram account – if you’re brave enough!) will give you instant accountability. It’ll also give you someone to talk to and who can help support you on those hump days.

Finally, work back from where you want to be to where you are now and set a series of steppingstone goals to check progress and keep you motivated on your journey.

Tip – make the first one SUPER easy! The feeling of ticking it off will give you an early boost!

Goal setting journal pages

2. Plan

Once you know where you want to be, figure out the best, most efficient way to get there – and build your plan.

It’s important to remember that every plan needs room for flexibility when needed. Let your body lead the way. An unscheduled easy, cross-training or rest day today will likely help you to avoid much more disruption later.

A coach will obviously come in handy here, but you’ll also be able to find plenty of information both online and on paper to help you build your plan.

Just try to make sure you get your information from a reliable source, and if you get overwhelmed – remember that there’s more than one route to any given destination...

What’s more important than the detail of the plan is the consistent execution of it.

Each Performance Journal has space to guide you through the planning process – from assessing where you are now, to setting your ideal daily and weekly routine, scheduling competitions, horizon scanning (i.e. pre-empting challenges by looking further ahead), and building 13-week blocks.

Thinking ahead and mapping out your path now means you can focus on navigating it later, without overthinking or veering too far off route!

Planning in journal

3. Journal

So, by now you know your intended destination and you’ve mapped out how to get there.

If you think of your plan as your path to success, then each day the goal is to lay down one more paving stone as perfectly as possible.

By planning thoroughly at the outset, and defining your plan in your journal, you can focus on the process and enjoy the journey.

Keeping a daily journal helps you train smart by identifying patterns in your successes and failures, keeping you accountable, tracking your habits, focussing on the process, reviewing your progress and celebrating your successes.

Record the details that are most important to you, like:

  • workout details
  • where you trained
  • when
  • who with
  • highlights
  • how you felt
  • what went well
  • what could be improved
  • anything notable, abnormal or memorable
  • weather
  • injuries/health issues
  • stress or sleep issues
  • shoes worn
  • heart rate
  • and calories.

Each Performance Journal also includes a Habit Builder section – a daily space to track your habits – too.

Remember – It’s ok to continue to journals through rest weeks or time disrupted due to illness or injury. Your journal can even be a useful way to stay on track with healthy habits, cross training, or a rehab and recovery programme during these times.

Finally, don’t forget to record those great conversations, incredible views and fun times – because enjoying the journey is just as important as the end destination!

Run Journal pages

4. Review

Your reviews are your scheduled opportunities to reflect on your progress. Are you on track? What have been the highlights and lessons learnt? What areas need attention? What are the solutions?

Without recording your efforts, thoughts and feelings, and then pausing to reflect on them, it’s easy to lose those golden nuggets of wisdom that can help you adapt future plans to suit you and prevent you from repeating the same mistakes.

Each Performance Journal has space to review on a weekly, monthly, 13-week and 6-month basis, with space for recording both quantitative and qualitative data.

These reviews will help you determine where you are, where you can grow and how to approach your next block.

Run Journal

5. Repeat!

All Performance Journals give you six months’ worth of journal space – this is a long enough period for you to be able to make real, quantifiable progress, but short enough for you to stay on track and keep focussed on your goal.

But once you’ve finished, it’s not the end!

Whether you’ve achieved your goal or not, it’s an opportunity to reflect and set a new goal.

Don’t wait for the perfect time to start your journal – keep a rolling record to get the best results – and build your bank of invaluable information and memorable stories!