If you find yourself scrabbling for the perfect programme to get you perfect results you are probably looking further than you need to. If you are competing in an event, of course you could do with some coaching, everybody could do with some expert tips. However your own tracking and analysis of how your training is going can produce some real gems in how you should progress forwards.

We have already told you what we think should feature in your training week in ‘What should your training week look like?’ regardless of whether you stay fit for fun or you have some end goal on mind. The next step is to track as much detail as you can about, not only your training session, but how you felt after, how it felt in comparison to other sessions etc.

When you start to track what you do, you start to see patterns in what you do and elements of your training that are either working for you or are not working for you. The more information you can collect about yourself the better you will be at working out what is right for you.

You do not have to have any experience to do this. Let’s say you want to start running for the first time and you decide to run for 1 minute on a Monday, you repeat the same on Wednesday and the same on Friday. The next week you run for 2 minutes, but by the Friday session you feel like running for 5 minutes. Great! Now in the third week you really want to go for it given your five minute victory from the previous Friday so you go for 10 minutes on the Monday but burn out after 3 minutes. There are two points here, a) it doesn’t matter, you are still running for longer than you did in your first week! b) have a think about what you think you will do on Wednesday…you know you can do at least 3 minutes, so why not aim for 3-5 minutes and the same again on Friday. It may well be that you are able to run for a full 10 minutes on the Friday and great if you can but no problem at all if you can’t!

In all of your training endeavours your progress will not be a linear upward curve, in fact it should have a few peaks and troughs. Welcome the bits that don’t go so well for you, they provide invaluable information on how to move forward in the right direction.

Here are just some of the things that are worth tracking:

Training (include weights, sets, reps, rest periods here and general observations of your session)
Food (everything that passes your lips)
Water intake
Sleep
Menstrual cycle
Mood
Stress levels at work/home
Hours spent working
General energy levels
Rest and recuperation time

Look at the above list. ALL of these variables determine how effective your training will be. The more information you have about yourself, the better equipped you are to manage your training around it…and you thought it was just what you did at the gym that counts!