Daily Metrics in Your Training Log
by Coach Seiji
There is an old saying in coaching, “if you are not keeping training logs, then you’re just recreating.” There is absolutely nothing wrong with recreationally riding, but most readers here are interested in improving their performance. Training for performance gains requires a plan, a map to guide your efforts in the correct direction. This guidance will be more accurate and efficient if you know where you’ve been, where you currently stand and the direction you’re pointed. Logging daily metrics, both empirical and subjective, along with your planned and completed training activities, will take much of the guesswork out of creating the roadmap to success.
Many riders that adhere to a training plan at least keep track of completed training activities and competitive results. This is merely half the story. It is important in the long term to know how the training affects your physiology and wellness. Periodic clinical testing can certainly be a window by which to view these important factors, but most athletes cannot fit frequent blood draws into already busy schedules and tight budgets. It is more convenient and often just as accurate to simply log a few points of data and subjective ratings.
|Trends are the more important thing to watch. Things in your body tend to happen slowly and gradually over time.|
Examples of useful metrics are: soreness, fatigue, sleep quality, stress, overall feeling, sleep hours, body mass and a waking heart rate ratio (laying down versus standing up). Most of these simple self-ratings of feeling, a common scale being between one and seven, with one being the best and seven being the worst. The heart rate ratio is an old school way to predict fatigue; after the alarm wakes you up, lay still for a minute so your heart rate returns to resting, then take your pulse for 10 seconds, stand up, and immediately take your pulse for next 10 seconds. Write this down as a ratio.
|Programs like Training Peaks offer simple to use tools for logging daily metrics. It's what we at Virtual Trainer use for all of our clients.|
There are no hard and fast rules about adjusting or stopping training based on these numbers. A system that is used by some endurance athletes is that if you have two or more of the subjective ratings at five or higher, it is time to revert to just a recovery workout or a rest day. Trends are the more important thing to watch. Things in your body tend to happen slowly and gradually over time. If you notice such things as soreness, fatigue, sleep quality, stress, overall feeling or the difference between the top and bottom numbers of your heart rate ratio increasing over time, it may signal impending overreaching, overtraining or under recovering. Conversely, if your body mass or sleep hours gradually decrease for an “unknown” reason, this may also signal a negative trend that calls for a change in training and/or lifestyle. These again are not concrete rules, everyone reacts differently and produces different ratings. The important thing is to observe trends in yourself over time.
Creating a history with training logs allows you to look back and see how longer term training and recovery efforts ultimately effect both training and racing results. This means that useful data doesn’t come immediately, but they do become more useful over time. It takes a watchful eye to notice often minor things that trigger negative trends. Successful athletes become a student of their sport and keeping daily metrics allows you to be a student of yourself. The more seasons’ worth of logs you have on your shelf, the more effective and accurate your information becomes.
Remove the Guesswork
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Notating the metrics daily in your log only takes a few minutes. The information you can glean in the future is extremely valuable. I personally have logs dating back to my junior high school days, and throughout my years as a competitive athlete, these were some of the most valuable things in my possession. I still peruse them, and it brings a smile to my face as they are entertaining at the least. I just read last night an excited entry where I rode my road bicycle nine miles, the furthest distance I had ridden to that date! I noted that I was “totally weeded!” Give yourself as much knowledge as possible to advance your performance and most efficiently direct your efforts. Keeping a training log with daily metrics such as the ones mentioned here are a minimum and easily met requirement.
About the Author: Seiji Ishii is the head coach of www.coachseiji.com. Coachseiji.com provides online coaching and personal training services to motorsports athletes. Coach Seiji has worked with both pros and elite amateurs including: Heath Voss, Ryan Clark, Austin Stroupe, PJ Larsen, Hunter Hewitt, Drew Yenerich, Rusty Potter, Jason Anderson, and Andrew Short. Learn more at coachseiji.com or contact Coach Seiji directly.
That's it for now, until next time, good luck with your training and remember, if you have a question, log on to the Virtual Trainer Expert Forum and have your question answered by a panel of experts. In addition, be sure and check out the Racer X Virtual Trainer archive section. Your complete one-stop information zone for motocross fitness.