Finally, while a training diary may not explain every peak and trough in form, both Gallagher and Clancy agree it can be a hugely valuable tool for amateur riders and sportive enthusiasts.
From a coach’s point of view, Gallagher encourages anybody considering investing in a coach to start a diary now to provide a starting point when it comes to planning training.
“I would encourage anyone to always accumulate some data with a bit of information about their ride,” he says, explaining how that can then be used as the initial basis to inform future training. “If somebody comes to us [as coaches] with a bank of information already there it means it’s easier for us to start adapting their training from the get go.”
Clancy, meanwhile, believes the amateur rider may find a training diary even more useful than a professional athlete.
“I think it’s absolutely something an amateur can benefit from,” he says. “It’s probably less of a mystery [to explain peaks in form] if you’re not competing at such a high level. A guy in an office can see he did X amount of hours that week, compared to X hours this week and this is how he felt in the sportive.
“He can compare that month-on-month, year-on-year and make much more sense of why his performance differed. So the benefits, I think, are just as good for an amateur rider, if not better, because they are starting from a lower base and so there’s more potential to record and analyse data to improve.”
Five take home points
- A training diary can be a valuable tool, regardless of whether you are a double Olympic gold medallist or sportive enthusiast.
- While online software such as Training Peaks provides detailed analysis, the humble pen and paper, or apps such as Strava and Garmin Connect, provide the basis for a thorough training diary.
- A training diary should contain a brief description of what you set out to achieve from the ride, key data (including distance, average speed, heart rate/power output etc), as well as an honest comment of how you felt (what external factors may have influenced your performance?), to put the ride into context.
- Use your diary to inform your training if you are building to a goal, whether it’s a sportive or race. What has worked in the past and what hasn’t? A training diary should also be used to keep track of your training – are you resting enough or where might you be able to up the intensity? Has your riding been relevant to your goal? There is always room to fine-tune your approach to training.
- Review your training regularly to spot trends and analyse progress. While a training diary can be a great motivational tool to track how much you have improved, it can also be used to spot whether your fitness has plateaued and inform a decision as to what to do about it.
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