5 Good Reasons to log your season

“I think most of us would agree that having access to data is important, but many times we may fall short of setting a priority to collect it.  The data that may seem to be insignificant today could be the very thing that protects us tomorrow.”  Is this a coach talking about the finer details of a swim season?

Amazingly this quote comes from an article on the importance of logging in the workplace.

A simple search of the “importance of logging” will show you that keeping a record is important to many fields of business and activities.  A logbook is defined in boating as “a record of important events in the management, operation, and navigation of a ship.”

Similarly, your swim season will benefit from a logbook to record not only important events but in the daily management and operations and navigation of your goals for that swim season.

5 simple reasons to have a log.

1. Memories fade.

You know you put in the work.  Every day you practice.  But at the end of the season what do you have to show for that but faded recollections of what seemed like a long season.   Truth is, memories of specifics fade almost the instant you exit the pool. Taking just  5-minutes to write down small specific things about your practice will help you notice patterns of success, or patterns that need addressing.

Specifics that only take a moment to record:

-How much work?  Write down just total yardage.

-What did the work look like? Describe 1-5 how hard the practice was.

-How did you feel your effort was?  Describe what you felt your effort was.

-Anything stand out? Describe one improvement or one area you need to focus still.

2. Accountability.

Your routine creates your results.

Recording your journey holds you accountable to the work.  When you have a consistent record, you can begin to see patterns–are you consistently at practices?  Are you consistently late? Do you notice you feel great at one time but not at others?  When you  take notes after meets you can hold yourself accountable to make positive changes at the next competition,  like change how  you warm-up, swim your race, sleep, eat, etc.

3. Visualization.

Your plan becomes real.

In a recent New York Times article on Katie Ledecky, she mentions how she had used goal-setting and mental imagery to win her gold medals.  (https://www.nytimes.com/2017/06/29/sports/katie-ledecky-chris-olmstead-swimming.html) This has been a proven fact over the decades with many of the greatest performers in history sharing of how they visualized every aspect of their performance before they did it.   Success was a pre-planned visualization, not left up to chance.

Use a logbook to review your optimal race performance in your mind.  Review notes about the actual race pool conditions (cold water, where the bathrooms are, etc.), so you can prepare yourself to know what the lay of the land is before racing.  Write down and review race splits to prepare the mind to view them as possible.   The brain cannot differentiate what is visualized from reality and this prepares you to perform.

 4. Motivation.

Give yourself 1-5 stars.

All  swimmers describe practice as hard.  So why go? Because you are motivated to _______.  You fill in the blank. What is your motivation?  Logging helps you hone in to that motivation.  If it is to go fast…then what helps you go fast?  Is your motivation a time? An event? Improvement?  Logging helps you find out.  When you see a pattern of certain hard work adding up to your goal–that motivates you to do more.  Suddenly practice becomes a deliberate equation you are willing to participate in. Write down any and all progressions towards your goal.  “Today I _________.”  Example:  “Today I held my goal split in this set.”  Takes 5 seconds to record, and you have the ability to be motivated by it for a lifetime.

5. History. Seasons. Careers.

The concept of history is often lost on those who are in the process of making it. We wouldn’t have a sense of history if events were not recorded.  Swimmers who log their practices or make notes on their season have a tangible record of all their work during that time of their lives.    There will come a point where you will not longer be putting in the same work you are currently.   Logging is a personal record of history for you to value.   A coach recently  posted on instagram that  “The average high school swimmer swims 1 million strokes per season.”  That is a lot of strokes.  That is a lot of personal history.  How do you package that?  Are they all meaningless strokes/laps/yards?  I think not, or you wouldn’t willingly participate in them.   It doesn’t have to just disapear, it can have meaning that carries over into another season or another chapter of your life if it is recorded in even a simple way.   Having a personal history of the workload becomes a reward in itself.   You also have the benefit of passing it down or using it later with perspective.  Log yardage–at the bare minimum–just logging the distance you go each day will provide you with a simple sense of accomplishment.

Aimee Schmitt,  author of The Ultimate Swim Log and Goal Planner, is a former competitive swimmer, NCAA All-American and was part of the Stanford Women’s Championship team in 1989.

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