New year, new training diary.

Welcome to 2015, it is going to be a great year for Judo and Judo athletes.

Diary entries from Jack Lovelock's training diary, by Jack Lovelock. 1936. Alexander Turnbull Library. MSX-2510-114.

Diary entries from Jack Lovelock’s training diary, by Jack Lovelock. 1936. Alexander Turnbull Library. MSX-2510-114.

I thought January was a great time to write something about the value of using a training diary and how to use one. It’s been covered before on this site ( and ) but a review for 2015 seemed appropriate.

A training diary is for me the first and most important tool a Judo athlete can have. If I could suggest one thing to a novice athlete I would go with a training diary. They provide essential record keeping, reflection and planning, and cost very little.

My suggestion for a diary is always the B5, one day per page, hard cover type. If you have been using one for a while you may feel more comfortable with a larger format but I always found personally that too large and I would not carry it in my kit bag.

I recommend a paper diary as your training diary should be with you 24/7 and should be something you can access and use all the time, anywhere, anytime.


Buy your diary, buy a nice pen (or three) to go with it and start recording what you eat and drink and write down every training session. This is a good start and requires little thought/effort.

Next, start recording what you do in your training sessions. Was it a gym session of Judo? Was it endurance work, skill development, etc. Next record the quantities, you track how many uchi komi, nage komi, randori you do. Just the same as you would record reps in the gym.

Next, record how things felt. Did your throws work well against the tall blackbelt? Did your shoulder feel a bit sore after the session? Was it a fun session or were you not enjoying it. At this stage you have probably already started recording things like when you went to sleep and woke. You might want to start recording how you felt when you woke up, were you tired in the morning, did you ache?


Now you are recording things in your diary you are already starting to informally review your training, simply by stopping and writing it down. But you need to take this a little more seriously. You should set aside time to read your training diary. For example, you might want to make it part of the process of ending a training cycle (every 6-8 weeks).

You can start by simply scanning over the pages and seeing what leaps out at you.

Next you can apply the following questions and yes, write the answers down in your diary:

  • What went well?
  • What did not go well?
  • What can I change to improve?

The next step is to share your diary with someone you trust. Normally your coach; though training partners and husbands/wives have been used before. Ask them to answer the three questions above too. And let them tell you what they see in your diary. I suggest closing your mouth pretty firmly and not interrupting as you can ruin the process by getting defensive and talking too much. You have to trust the other person and respect them. That will help you listen and consider what they say.

Put your PLAN in your diary.

Every Judo athlete should have a plan, simple or complex. And that plan should be written down. The next step in your training diary use is to put you training plan in your diary in advance. This way when you rock up to the dojo you can look at your diary and be reminded that you are working on left Seoi Nage that night.

You may not follow the plan entirely (or at all) but having it there will remind you and keep it in your mind, and will also prompt you to explain in the diary why you diverged if you didn’t do what you wrote down.

Tips and Tricks

  1. Use your diary as it suits you.
    This means if you are artistic, fill your diary with pictures of the techniques you worked on. Rather than writing “I felt good”, draw a happy face in the margin. If you are a numbers person (like me) give things percentages.
  2. Track your weight
    You probably did not need me to tell you this one, most Judo athletes weigh themselves a lot anyway. But you should be recording your weight in your diary so you can track it’s movement upwards towards your target final weight.
  3. Blog it.
    If you have a good training diary, you have a good blog. Social media (as we covered in an earlier post: ) is now a essential part of being an athlete. Many athletes struggle to find things to share. Your training diary has a lot of information you can integrate into a social media post. Don’t share the private stuff, but trust me, people will love seeing how much hard work you are putting in.


A training diary should be in the kit bag of every serious aspiring Judo athlete. I always respect the player I spot writing something down in a diary in the changing room or on the side of the mat after a session.

A training diary is THE essential first tool for becoming a Judo athlete. It is a recording device that allows you to see what has happened over the past week/month/cycle. It is a tool for reflection and planning which is simple, cheap and effective.

If you have any questions on the use of a training diary, let me know. Either drop me an email ( ) or leave a comment in the comments section below.



The image on this page is of the training diary of Jack Lovelock who won the 1936 Olympic Gold medal in the 1500m and is sourced from

Comments (1)

bashirAugust 22nd, 2015 at 7:17 pm

Please what is the final preparation three weeks to competition.

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