The Simple & Effective Training Log for Climbers
Last week in the climbing gym I felt like a circus attraction. In between routes I whipped out my notebook and jotted down a few notes about my workout so far. But over the course of the afternoon, four different people accosted me. “What is
that?” they asked, curious but wary. “Are you writing down your climbs
?” From the way they stared I may as well have been swallowing swords.
It struck me that few climbers record their workouts, let alone keep any kind of training log. But even the most basic records will help a climber set goals, track improvement, and evaluate the effectiveness of their training plan. Below, I’ve outlined what to include in a basic training log for climbers.
Start with goal setting
This is the most important step in keeping a training log. Whether you know it or not, you have training goals. Without them you wouldn’t bother training. Goals can be anything from trying to climb a harder grade to simply having fun. No matter what your goals, identify them and write them down so that you have specific and tangible training objectives.
Begin with a few short term goals to work on between now and about six weeks from now. These will lead you toward achieving a different, more challenging set of mid-term goals for up to six months from now. Finally, a set of long-term goals for one or more years from now provides a distant target that helps focus your workouts all along the way.
Set goals that will push you, but that are realistic to achieve. These can be specific routes or boulders – indoor or outdoor – that you want to complete, acquiring a new skill, specific competition results, etc. Setting a series of goals like this will offer many small rewards along the way, and will help keep you motivated and on track toward whatever it is you hope to achieve through training and climbing.
The Climbing Log
This is what should be recorded during or after a day of climbing. It will take fewer than three minutes to jot down the following information, yet it will provide concrete details for future reference and planning.
Briefly record the details of your workout: length (time climbing), number and rating of pitches or boulder problems climbed and attempted, plus any supplemental training like weight lifting (sets, reps, weight), campusing, pull-ups, etc.
Roughly, how hard did you push yourself during the workout? This can be as simple as Easy, Moderate, or Hard.
How did you feel during the workout? Rate your overall energy level from 1 to 5 (3 being average). This simple number will allow you to determine, at a glance, how certain training days, weeks, or months contribute to your overall well-being. A daily energy rating can help you determine whether you’re under or over training in general, and help identify natural ups and downs in your training cycles.
Briefly, compare your performance with the goals you’re trying to achieve. How did you do? Do your goals seem realistic? Are they too easy or too hard?
Over time, the daily training log will help reveal whether your training is appropriate and effective for achieving your goals.
The Complete Exercise Journal
In addition to writing down climbing-specific training, use some or all of steps 1-4 above as a template for recording non-climbing exercise and even rest days. A few more quick, helpful components of a complete training log include:
How long and how well do you sleep each night?
This can be as simple or complex as you want. Do you eat a healthy diet? What is it? Record significant dietary changes, intake of vitamins and supplements, alcohol consumption, and anything else that may affect your overall health and performance. The more specific your notes, the better they will serve you later on.
Mental and emotional stressors play a large role in daily energy levels. A training plan can be designed and followed perfectly, but our performance often depends on what’s happening in other areas of our life. Note significant stress levels from all sources.
Above all else, keep a training log that’s simple and accessible enough that you’ll use every day. Its worth depends entirely on your consistency – even if that means feeling like a sideshow at the local climbing gym.