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Using a Training Diary

Using a training diary

I only started using a training diary 2.5 years ago and before that I would glance at my husband’s list of deadhangs, campusing, and how many times he’d done whatever at the school on the minute and to be honest thought it a bit boring. Who wants to keep a record of a list of numbers? Climbing seemed to be distilled into a clinical form and that wasn’t the reason I went climbing. But then I suddenly decided that I really wanted to get better. I realised that committing to a redpoint (rather than spending a day on something once a year) would only get me so far. I had got as far as 7c through being reasonably focused but to make it to the next level I realised that my ‘training’ would have to take on a new dimension.

So I started to look into it: core body exercises, pull ups, aerobic sessions, phasing, power, power endurance etc etc. I started to plan and realised that if I was going to do all this stuff I should actually record it and that’s how my training diary started, but I didn’t realise how useful it would actually be. I also realised that many of my male friends all had training diaries, but literally only a handful of my female friends.

Since the middle of 2005 my climbing has been up and down like a yo yo – injury, over training, lack of motivation have all got in the way and only now am I beginning to get my training right. And its only now been visible what went wrong (and what went right) through looking at my training diary.

Training diaries are not for all, but now I realise that they can be useful for everyone. As I moved up the grades on the trad I used to get really frustrated. I never did any training but I did climb regularly. I’d have a phase when E2 felt desperate, but yet only a couple of months before I’d been climbing E4/5. The fact is I’d probably not been climbing for a while and my standard had dropped. If I’d had it in black and white that I’d not been climbing much I might not have beaten myself up so much.

So why bother?

· Not only does it give you a record of your training, but also your actual climbing – up until this point I’d only scribbled dates down in my massive collection of guidebooks, I’d never recorded everything in a big list.

· If you’re anything like me you always assume you are always improving and its easy to forget about times in the past when you were actually climbing well. The ability to look back and see what you did in the lead up or in preparation for a route or boulder problem is really useful.

· Its good to be able to look back to see the peaks and slumps and what contributed to both. I know now what contributed to my numerous burn outs this year – I was doing too much and I wasn’t allowing myself enough time to recover but I couldn’t see any of that at the time. It was also interesting to see how long it took me to improve again – one burn out took 3 months to recover from.

· It forces you to look back at your climbing and make changes to your climbing/training. You can’t ignore what’s in black and white and to visibly see what worked and what didn’t.

· A 4 month period of injury last year led me to do loads of weights, swimming and general body conditioning. I’d never done any of this before and didn’t realise how useful it was. By having it on paper it doesn’t become a distant memory of being injured, but of something I made use of.

· You can record benchmarks of what you can do when you consider yourself strong/fit. I only realised recently that I had none. Now its when I can lift a certain weight or do a certain boulder problem at my local wall where the holds don’t change.

Key things to include in a training diary:

· Activity – details of training session, day out at the crag and what you did

· Effort – how much effort you put in – was it an easy day or pushing yourself to your limit – how pumped etc did you get?

· Time spent doing activity – if you were at the crag for 8 hours, how much of that time were you actually climbing? Was it actually only a third of that time?

· How you felt at the time. Did you wake up feeling achy, did you feel on top of the world? You might consider giving yourself a score out of 5.

For many people this information will be old hat and many men I know will be yawning as they read this – but for any aspirant superheros, why not give it a go – it will certainly give you a good basis and structure for your climbing.