I am usually a big advocate for keeping notes and logs digitally. First of all, it’s far more efficient to make notes searchable, and second of all, my handwriting looks as though the evil hand from “Idle Hands” went on a bender and then started taking notes for me. But I’ve stumbled upon one very productive exception: a workout log.
Simple Workout Log was a great app, but its biggest flaw came from no fault of its own … it was on my phone. So every set, every rest period, there was my phone, active and waiting, and I would get so tempted. One minute rest, I have time to check Facebook. Two-minute rest, plenty of time to hit a few pages in that Kindle book I was reading. And so on, until a workout that should have taken 30 minutes has taken 45, and now I’m late for work and haven’t had time to make coffee. And the dog is judging my poor time management since it has delayed his ability to go for his morning constitutional.
So my solution was to go analog. I dug up an old notebook and pen, and I started handwriting my workout notes. It helps that I follow the same routine each day, so there’s not much to remember, and even when the page looks like gibberish, I can pretty easily figure out what I meant. Plus I can abbreviate “10 sets of 10 kettlebell swings at 50lbs” to “10×10 KS 50”, and even my crappy handwriting can’t render that totally unreadable. Most of the time, at least.
All joking aside, the real benefit here has been my focus and mindfulness during my workouts. It’s more than just not being sucked into browsing my phone, it’s that it simplifies what I need to have on hand to just workout materials. I put my phone face down in the next room, and then it is just me, the workout log, and my kettlebells (and lifters chalk, because I once let go of a kettlebell due to slippery hands, and the only reason I am alive to write this is that it somehow didn’t smash half our kitchen and cause my wife to kill me). There’s also something psychologically uplifting about seeing the pages fill with workout notes. It becomes a tactile representation of my hard work.
Now, I will preface the next part with a note that I was laid up for a while with bronchitis and really redoubled my efforts at training once I was recovered. But I noticed a very pronounced improvement in the quality of my workouts once I switched to a paper log. This is probably a combination of finally being healthy after spending the fall fighting a cold in addition to the added focus from removing my phone. Still, the results have been awesome-I set a weight personal best in the Turkish Get Up, and then over the weekend set time-based personal bests in both kettlebell swings and Turkish Get Up, which is what I needed to move on to the next program.
I never thought I would go back to handwriting anything if I could help it, but I can’t believe how quickly I’ve fallen in love with a written workout log!