Are you looking to get the most out of your mind and body when it comes to training, competing, and everything else you have happening in your life?
To have constant confidence that your actions are guiding you to your goals, to continually optimize your life to bring out the best version of yourself, and to dive deep within yourself to find out what you’re truly capable of in this life? There is a way for you to unlock this, and it’s through journaling.
As athletes, having daunting goals and aspirations, and going to extensive lengths to reach them is part of the process. However even with this mindset, most of us constantly experience fear, anxiety, question our progress, and ask ourselves why we’re doing this. It’s up to us to own our emotions and actions, and through writing you can crush the negative and promote growth, action, and self-mastery.
What is an athlete’s journal or diary?
An athlete’s journal is a space where you can go to reflect, set goals, grapple with issues, process wins, analyze failures, track progress, log training, learn about yourself and so much more. As athletes, the demands of training, work, school, family, and everything else creates almost 60,000 thoughts per day in our heads. Without collecting our thoughts and guiding our actions day-in and day-out, we’re essentially just going through the motions and drifting off the path from achieving our goals. An athlete’s journal is your coach, mentor, friend, and most importantly the place for your inner voice to process everything and keep you accountable daily to reach your goals.
Sports psychologists and coaches have been using writing with their athletes for decades and research has shown that writing can help any athlete:
- reduce stress and anxiety
- increase self-awareness
- improve sport knowledge and performance
- develop mental strength and growth
- advance creative inspiration and insight
What you will need
The beauty in journaling is that while the benefits are great, the requirements are bar none. To start you will need a pen and paper, or download the free, daily prepared, Athlete’s Journal app for iOS or Android.
Morning and evening routines
Starting your day
In your morning routine, set aside a 5 minute block to prepare for the day.
The morning entry starts off your day by aligning you with your vision and goals. Determine the most impactful actions you can take in the day to move yourself forward and prepare your mind for what’s to come. Formulate a plan of attack on how you will tackle the challenges of the day. Also note your mind and body’s state to be able to see what conditions led you to good days or bad days.
What am I grateful for? What am I looking forward to today?
What are three actions that will get me closer to my goals?
How will I prepare for and overcome the obstacles I will face today?
Write three affirmations for yourself
Affirmations can be hard if you’re just starting out. Check out this if you need help
Log your energy & recovery level, sleep quality, weight, and anything else that would help with analyzing your mental and physical levels
Ending your day
At night, find time for a 5-10 minute reflection on the day.
Reflect on how your day went, what you accomplished, and the things you learned facing down any obstacles.
Think on what you could improve upon tomorrow, and end the night setting your sights on what you need to accomplish the next day. This ensures you’re not just going through the motions blindly, but are actively working towards your goals.
What was today’s greatest challenge and what did I learn from it?
Name three wins of the day. These can be big or small
What’s one thing I can learn from today and improve upon tomorrow?
What do I want to accomplish tomorrow?
Log your stress & exertion level, nutrition, hydration, mood, and anything else that would help with analyzing your mental and physical levels
Training / competition entry
Whether you had a recovery day, an intense interval session, a group workout, or race, write about it in the training entry. This is where you can critique your performance, note the highlights, and come away with takeaways of any failures.
Summarize the day’s workout(s). Note time, distance, intervals, temperature, equipment setup, and any other metrics of the workout. Your journal does not have to be Training Peaks, Strava, Garmin, MyFitnessPal or any other sport training platform, so just logging the basics will work as long as you have the training data somewhere.
However, use this space to reflect on how your training or race went. Analyze your performance to see where you improved, or where you need to put in more work.
Writing allows you to collect all those places your mind wandered off to during the activity and process all of it. This is how you can grow and learn more about yourself, your mind and body’s limits, your sport, and the key takeaways to focus on for next time.
Putting it in practice
Greatness is a lot of small things done well. Day after day, workout after workout, obedience after obedience, day after day. -Ray Lewis, NFL Hall of Fame & 2x Super Bowl champion
The benefits from journaling do not come overnight, but staying disciplined with the practice daily will proper your growth and keep you on course to reaching your goals.
Writing will not always feel natural or helpful at first, but keep putting words down and you will come away better.
If you are 100% committed to achieving your vision & goals you will find the athlete’s journal as a great tool to guide you on your path to success. I am 3 years into mine, and while I have not reached my ultimate goals, I have experienced the benefits first hand in achieving a number of my big ambitions.