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A Training Log for Your, With a Point of View

Mon, May  26, 2003 - By Mike Muha

Here's a training log that can be used even if you don't have Excel or a heart rate monitor.

Several people have asked if they could download a blank copy of my training log. Unfortunately, my training log is all web-based (I enter my log information on a form on the site and it's stored in a database) - not something easily downloaded.

I went looking around the web for examples of training logs and searched through a number of books, but didn't see anything that I really liked. (Sleamaker and Browning's "SERIOUS Training for Endurance Athletes" book greatly influenced my personal log style (and how I train) and I highly recommend the book for any endurance athlete.)

Part of the reason I didn't like anyone else's training log is that I have a particular point of view when it comes to training, and it's reflected in how I record my training sessions.

So, I created a Nordic ski training log similar to my online training log, just for you...

Paper-based log (PDF):
Weekly training log 
Yearly summary log

MS Excel-based log:
Weekly training log 
Yearly summary log

A weekly training log with example log entries.  

A point of view

The log should make should make you think about the goal of a session.I'm into planned training to maximize gain in minimum time. My log has space for entries for the planned type of training I'm doing. There are places to record time for distance, intervals, uphill intervals, speed, and race/pace sessions. There are also places to record general and specific strength workouts. A quick look at my log and I can see if I'm doing too many or too few of any type session. 

The log needs to keep track of training intensity. This log has a simple description of five intensity levels, and a place to record the intensity level of a particular training session. I use this information to see how the  session time at a certain intensity on one day impacts my training the next couple of days. It also reminds me not to do "junk" sessions - sessions mostly at level 3 intensity.

The log needs to track activity type. Am I rollerskiing, biking or running? Am I doing too much classic rollerskiing or too much skate rollerskiing? The log has a place to write in the activity you're doing. If you're a serious Nordic ski racer, you'll want to make sure your activities tend toward those that are specific to cross country skiing. 

The log helps you determine when you need rest. There's a place to record resting heart rate. If my heart rate is too high one morning, it may indicate I need to take the day off. (To take you resting pulse, as soon as you wake up in the morning, use the bathroom, put on your heart rate monitor, then lay back in bed. I tend to lay on my back with one arm bent up holding my monitor. Your resting heart rate is the lowest heart rate that shows up on your monitor during the next five minutes.)

You need a place to take notes. I record the type of terrain in in (flat, rolling, hilly), how well I felt, race and time trial times, problems, and successes.

It's not the number of miles or kilometers you do. Workouts should be tracked by number of minutes at an intensity level, not by distance. Too many people try to cover a certain distance and it ends up being a race to cover the distance faster than last time. So my log has no place to track distance, except if I want to include it in the Notes section.

The log

Actually there are two logs (weekly and yearly) in two formats (paper-based and Microsoft Excel-based). The weekly logs allow you to record one week's worth of training activity. At the bottom of the weekly log is a place to summarize the weeks training hours.

The yearly log is simply a record of the weekly summary information. After the week is over and you've summed the training volume, copy it to the corresponding week in the yearly log.

The paper-based log is designed to fit into a standard three-ring binder. I recommend a binder that has clear outside pockets designed for inserting cover pages. I put my training plan into the front cover, and my strength log into the back cover.

The Excel spreadsheet is nothing spectacular. You'll either use a spreadsheet for each week, create a tab for each week, or copy the log so that one tab covers multiple weeks.

So no excuse; start logging!  

What are Session Goals?
Distance. Zone 1 intensity for longer sessions (1.5 hours or longer), Zone 2 for shorter sessions. Used to develop oxygen-carrying capabilities. I frequently have to WALK UP HILLS in early season if I want to stay in Zone 1.
Intervals. Helps develop the ability to sustain high intensity during races. Usually done in the high end of Zone 3 and in Zone 4.
Uphill Intervals. Ditto. These are separated out because uphills use different muscles. Usually done in the high end of Zone 3 and in Zone 4.
Speed. Puts some snap into your actions. These are short all-out efforts. By short, I mean SHORT: 10-20 seconds max.
  Race / Pace. You know what a race is. Pace training is learning to maintain a particular effort over a period of time. Usually done in the high end of Zone 3 and in Zone 4.
  General Strength. Strength sessions done in a weight room, or circuit training.
  Specific Strength. Strength exercises that mimic ski motions. Examples include using a rollerboard, moosehuffs up a steep hill, double poling uphilll, rollerskiing without poles.