8 Reasons to Record Your Workouts with a Swim Log (Coaches’ Corner #2)

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log book

By Laura Thompson, Head Coach, Coach INT2

One of the most effective (and cheapest) tools available to swimmers is keeping a swim log. For the five minutes it takes to record a workout, the athlete reaps a ton of rewards – not the least of which include inspiration and motivation.

Here are 8 reasons why you should record your workouts with a swim log:

  1. It’s therapeutic. It’s hard to put into words that little energy surge that occurs when you take a few moments to relive your workout on paper: equal doses of satisfaction and pride, usually followed by a jolt of excitement for the results that are still to come. Jotting down how you performed is a nice little piece of closure after a workout.
  2. It provides a moment for some objective reflection. Reliving your practice and which sets you performed well on provides an opportunity to reflect more objectively on the work you did that day. It may help you make more sense of the set in hindsight, providing a better understanding of the objective for the set.
  3. It gives you a better understanding of your progress. If I don’t know any better, I set ridiculous goals.  Having a log book, and seeing on paper how long it takes for my body to adjust to training and become conditioned, helps give me a realistic framework for how quickly I can expect to see results. Being blind to practice results and rate of progression, or willfully ignoring them, sets you up to create unrealistic goals, since you simply don’t know any better. You have no compass for how quickly or slowly you progress. This results in a demoralized athlete when he or she doesn’t see the results they expect.
  4. Inspiration comes in reflecting on the journey. Flipping back through the pages of your log, seeing all the practices where you put in hard work and all those monstrous sets you conquered, should fill you with a swelling sense of pride and confidence, furthering you along your journey towards your goals.
  5. The desire to record positive results will motivate you in practice. In the moments where your motivation sags during practice, where you just don’t feel that super-duper, and you are thinking about being quite literally anywhere else on the earth besides staring at that black line, the notion you will have to record this workout later will show up in a last ditch effort to save your practice. There are numerous times when the thought of having to write out a crappy set saved me from actually having one.
  6. It gives you an elevating set of targets to aim at. Having your test set results right there on paper eliminates any confusion the next time that test set shows its face again. Having those numbers in front of you gives you a specific standard to chase and surpass. Knowing the exact times you swam last time gives you a goal other than just surviving the interval.
  7. It helps you detect patterns. Out-of-the-pool stuff has a major impact on on our performance; this you should know already. But it can be challenging to see the cause-and-effect of certain things without consistently monitoring factors such as sleep, stress levels, diet and mood. How many times have you showed up at practice, feeling lethargic and not having a precise explanation for why you felt so off? Looking back on things like stress, sleep, and even hydration can help you find the cause for those sporadic dips in energy and motivation, and ideally help to ward them off in the future so that you can stay in peak performance state.
  8. It gives you a hub for your swimming goals. As mentioned above, tracking your day-to-day results in the pool can help you create better goals. Your swim log can also help you plan your daily, weekly and season long goals. Here are a few examples:
  • Workout Goals: Breathing bilaterally for the entire workout. BURNING RUBBER in all freestyle sets!
  • Weekly/Monthly Goals: Do the full activation before every workout. Warm down an extra 200m each practice. Make it to bed by 8:30pm every night.
  • Season Goals: Break 30 for the 50 freestyle. Qualify for Provincials.

Your swim log gives you not only a place to write down and reflect on your workouts (and competitions), it also serves as an effective planning tool for your swimming goals.