How to get started with a training Diary for Judo athletes.

Tristan wrote a good post the other day on maintaining a training diary, so I thought this would be a good time to cover this essential training tool in a Judo athlete’s kit bag.Training diaries have been used by athletes, in fact by high performers in all walks of life for a very long time. Training diaries are often quoted as being the primary motivator for athletes, yet in Judo they seem to less prevalent than in other sports. I think perhaps it can be quite overwhelming to a novice athlete, when a coach says “keep a diary”, so in this post I shall try and give some practical advice for Judo athletes on how to use a simple diary.

Basics of recording your training.

Traveler's Journal [open]Before we begin, we need to consider the 4 basic elements that you need to consider when training:

  • Nutrition (What you eat)
  • Duration (How much training you do)
  • Intensity (How hard you train)
  • Recuperation (How you recover from training)

A training diary needs to capture these four elements as a basic starting point. You need to record everything you eat, every bit of training and also how you recover. These are the basics, you need to record how many miles you run, how fast you run, how many uchi komi you do, how much randori, how many drills, etc. You need to write down every burger you eat.
Importantly you need to record how much rest you get, including how many hours sleep and how you feel during the day.

Recording these basic elements will give you an view of what yesterday or last week looked and felt like. You may be surprised at how your memory and what you write differ. Look particularly for the relationships between your recuperation and the previous day or days training. If you feel tired today, what did you eat yesterday, what training did you do?

Use this information to adjust your training to minimise the training sessions you go to feel tired or sore. Use it to find wholes in your schedule that are dragging you down. Use it to find highpoints and work out why it was a good day/session.

Judo specific training diary requirements.

I just got back from working out

Iavor Kostadinov by MajorConfusion

Just recording the basics above will give you a good start, it may be enough for your first diary. However, we can improve on that basic recording of information and capture Judo specific information.

Judo is fought in weight classes, most Judo athletes work hard to make sure they make it into their weight class…. just. In your diary, you can/should record your weight. Depending on where you are in your training programme you might do this weekly, or closer to events you will want to start recording your weight before you go to bed at night and when you get up in the morning. This will help you determine your “drift weight”, or how much you lose overnight naturally. This will vary depending on a whole variety of factors.
As a competition comes nearer and nearer you will want to record your weight everyday (morning and night) and possibly before and after training. This will give you information on how your body is reacting to your training. It will give you ideas on how much weight you can expect to lose and give you an idea of how long it will take to get to your desired weight.

You may also wish to regularly check you body fat percentage, this too will give you information on how realistic your goal weight is. Remember that you do not want to go much (if any) lower than 8% – 15% if you are male or 13% – 20% if female. Any lower than this and your health will be affected. I have seen athletes drop below 8% and seen their ability to train drop and the injury rate increase. If you can’t make your weight class without going below these values, then you need to change weight class!

Our sport is hard to quantify, this makes recording your Judo training difficult. Judo training however is the most important training you do, so it is vital you find ways to record your Judo training.
To start with, you will want to record the duration of every session you attend and your perception of the intensity overall. So in basic terms you might right “90 minutes, light Judo training”. But as you get more comfortable with using a diary you will need to start being more specific. You will need to break a session into it’s component parts and record duration and intensity for these. So small entries for warm-up, ne-waza, randori, uchi-komi, drills, skill work, etc.
You will also want to record what you did in the training, so write down that you did “50 left handed Uchi Mata throws into a crashmat and were exhausted at the end + 5X5 minute ne waza randori that you relaxed through and felt happy doing 5 X 5 standing Randori and felt tired but not exhausted (say a 6/10 for intensity)”.
Lastly, you will want to start writing down how you and your partners Judo worked. You need to write down that you were caught by Joe’s Left Tai Otoshi, that you caught Sally with a Tomoe Nage like the one you practised last Tuesday.

Not Just for training!
A diary is not just for training during the week, take it to competitions with you and write down what happened in your matches. Write down what you see and feel, how you perform and anything you see others doing that is of interest. Especially, what others people you will fight do.

Capturing this information is the important start of a process that will help you understand and improve your training. The Yin to this Yang is reviewing your diary. I would recommend reviewing your diary once a week with your coach(es).
You need to sit down and look at your training (and competitions) and see what comes to light as you read through what you have done. If you maintain a blog (and I personally think you should), this review can form the basis of a weekly blog post on your website. Alternatively it might form a report you send to the national coach, sponsors, mum and dad.
The process of summarising your diary will allow you to understand yourself better and if you write this summary with a coach, the conversations between the two of you will help shed light on training issues bubbling under the surface.
You should also review everything and the summaries at the end of every training macro-cycle also. Compare the reality (diary) to the goals (the training plan), how did they compare? What went well, what went poorly? This will help you modify your next macro-cycle to be even better than the last one.

Planning too.
Don’t forget your diary is a brilliant place to write down your planned training for the week. Put down the type, durations, intensities and goals of each session in advance. Re-read it before each training session and it will help you focus on what you should be doing.

There you have it, a basic introduction to the Whys and Hows of starting your Judo training diary. I suggest buying a cheap B5 hard cover diary from a stationary store, the sort with 1 or 2 pages per day. There are specific training athletic/sports training diaries you can buy, but I think that you should just start with a simple standard diary first, they are cheap and easy.

Throw that diary and (more than one) pen in you kit bag and take the diary with you everywhere. Write down as much as you can as close to when it happens as possible, while its still fresh in your mind. Scribbling stuff down during water breaks can be good.

Hopefully, this post will help you get started with a Judo training diary. If you have any questions about keeping one let me know ( ). I am happy to receive questions from novice athletes anytime! 🙂


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Comments (2)

Rainer FischerFebruary 25th, 2009 at 4:06 pm

Hi there,

Let me quickly introduce myself first…

My name is Rainer Fischer. I was a Judo Olympian, Pan Am Gold medalist and a 6-time Canadian National champ (3 of those in the Open Weight as a Middleweight). My US competition in my days were people like Jimmy Pedro Sr, Cohen brothers, Clyde Worthen, Bill Sanford. I was one of the original members of the club that spawned judoka like Nicolas Gill.

Anyways, I found your post on training diaries very interesting because I ALWAYS kept a judo diary. In fact, when I trained in Japan back in the early 70s, I kept a daily diary detailing what I did EVERY day – who I practised with, what throws I used or got thrown with, etc. Many times I trained with current and later-to-be World & Olympic champs not just from Japan but other countries too.

I still have my pile of notebooks filled with my entry-per-page diary. Every once in a while, I still come across a training diary that I had long forgotten about.

Later, after I had retired, I wrote a book called, “The Complete Training Guide For Judo” detailing weight training exercises and training cycles. I have a BSc in Kinesiology and was able to draw on my educational resources as well as my judo background.

This book has long been out of print but many judoka have asked for it over the years. I am now at a point where I might consider pulling some of these past resources out of their ‘mothball’ existence IF there is enough interest.

I don’t currently have a personal website but I can be joined on Twitter at

Keep training,

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