June 7th, 2011
I’m going to go a little “back-in-my-day” on you in this post.
In September of 1993, my high school coach (John Schauer, father of former UAA skiers Paul and Karl, and a generally awesome guy) told me that I needed to keep a training log. And so, I kept one. Not a fancy one, just a calendar where I wrote down what I did each day, tallied up my weekly volume, and then added up my yearly hours. Up until that point, I wasn’t really a “serious” skier — I started as a J1 in ’93, and wanted to get closer to winning races; Mr. Schauer told me that real skiers kept logs, so I got right on that.*
DISCLAIMER: I was really OCD about school, so it makes sense that I would get obsessed with these numbers as well.
This is a line graph of hours for the 1993-94 season. You can see that this is done on paper. Excel does this a lot faster and a lot better, but I didn’t have a computer in 1993.
One of the reasons juniors should keep a training log is so that they can show coaches what they’ve done in the past. When I went to UAF in 1995, I was able to prove to Paul Beberg that I’d trained 500 hours the year before, so he took me seriously. When I was working at Michigan Tech, I think I had a total of two recruits show up with logs. To train with CXC’s REGs and USST’s NEG this year, you need to keep a training log. Is that some incentive?
UAF had log sheets, so I no longer kept my hours on a calendar from Hawaii.Now I had real forms to fill out, with spots to mention how much I slept, and how I felt. Scientific!!! But, more importantly, my coach was able to easily look at my logs (along with my teammates’) and see how we were doing, and how we were reacting to training.
I still didn’t have graph making technology, nor did I have a sheet that updated my hours for the year. But I still was able to look back at the end of the year and realize that I trained 700 hours, rather that the 600 I was supposed to. Oops. I didn’t need a coach to explain that this was why I didn’t ski very fast … but at least I had an explanation.
In ’98-’99, I was training with Gitchi Gummi Sport Association, and we didn’t have fancy log sheets. I used envelopes for a few months, but, most importantly, I kept track of what I was doing. When I raced well, I could see what I’d done. When I got sick or just blown out at a race, I’d look back and see that, yes, 23 hours plus 21 hours plus two marathons would get me run down.
Most serious training programs in the world have some sort of training log they have their athletes fill out — Excel documents, online forms, paper sheets. The common theme is that coaches can see how athletes are reacting to training, and athletes can make informed choices about how they train. Some have more info than others, but keeping track is the most important thing.
BONUS BACK-IN-MY-DAY WRITING:
The other important thing is to have a good training plan. Tailoring sessions to your ability and age is the best, but sometimes you need to just get after it. To the left, GGSA’s plan for June 1999. This is everyone’s plan. John Bauer did this, I did this, high school juniors did this. Step right up. To the right, we had a special guest in July of 1999.
Maybe this wasn’t the best way of approaching things, but you certainly got an idea of what training was all about.
* Another thing that “real” skiers did was practice arm swing technique in front of the mirror. I swear I read this in John Caldwell’s “Caldwell on Competitive Cross-Country Skiing”. Hardly anyone knows what I’m talking about when I suggest this, though. Weird.