“I began fitness journaling when I first started training for longer distance races,” says Gentry. “When you’re training for those long-distance races, you quite often wind up doing blitz days because of time. My coach gave me this idea to split up the long runs if I needed to, but then I needed to write [what happened] down to remember how the first one went so that I could maintain that same effort on the second run.” In other words, Gentry decided to write about her training to stay consistent—but now, she says it’s about so much more than that.
“Sometimes you have those crappy workouts, and you know that you still did it and that’s what counts… By writing it down, you can admit it and pinpoint why it sucked.” —Becs Gentry, Peloton Tread coach
Once Gentry got in the habit of recording her runs and strength training sessions, she started to notice patterns in her training. Looking back on her entries, she was able to gain perspective about what types of resistance training resonated with her body, which behaviors led to great runs, and (most importantly perhaps) why runs didn’t go well. “Sometimes you have those crappy workouts, and you know that you still did it and that’s what counts. You moved your body, you laced up, and you showed up for yourself. By writing it down, you can admit it and pinpoint why it sucked,” she says.
To take up journaling, like Gentry, you don’t need any special stationery. (Even a basic yellow legal pad will do the trick!) However, if you do prefer a bit more structure, the following fitness journals will help you get started.
5 fitness journals to get you started tracking your workouts
1. Fitlosophy Fitbook, $23
The Fitlosophy journal allows you to set 2021 goals (mine is to do one pull-up) and asks you to reflect on your progress at the end of the week. There’s also room to record weight and reps so those who love throwing around weights can stay nice and organized.
Shop now: Fitlosophy Fitbook, $23
2. Day-by-Day Run Planner, $20
If you’re a runner, this journal will help you mentally come to terms with all types of runs: the euphoric, the average, and the terrible. You’ll also be able to track your route, pace, and the weather for insights into what makes you train your best.
Shop now: Day-by-Day Run Planner, $20
3. Yoga Manuscript Spiral Notebook, $12
After savasana, curl up with this blank notebook and record how you feel. Did your body tighten up in wheel pose? Did you nail your handstand? Did you stay with your breath for the whole class?
Shop now: Yoga Manuscript Spiral Notebook, $12
4. Climbing journal, $13
If you’ve been doing a fair bit of bouldering and sport climbing outside since the pandemic began, take this little journal along with you. It will allow you to record the name of the route as well as the grade and the location before asking you to describe the climb itself.
Shop now: Climbing journal, $13
5. The Trail Journal, $10
Since we’ve all been spending more time in the great outdoors, a hiking journal only seems apropos. You can jot down where the trails are taking you today and how many miles you cover. Oh, and you’ll also find inspiring, naturey quotes as you page your way through this notebook.
Shop now: The Trail Journal, $10
5 fitness journal ideas to get you started—no matter how you like to move
1. Start plain and simple
When you’re creating a new habit (like, say, starting a journal), experts pretty much agree that tiny steps are the way to go. So when you turn to the very first page in your notebook, keep it simple. Record what your WOTD is and that’s all. For example, “I’m going to complete a 5-4-3-2-1 treadmill workout with a recovery speed of 5.5 and a progressive threshold pace that starts at 6.5.”
2. Annotate your workout
If you’re feeling the need to expand your fitness journaling, you can start annotating your workouts afterward. “So I write the workout down exactly as its prescribed first and foremost, and then I annotate that. So if I hit paces, or I went over them, or didn’t hit my distance, then I annotate off of that. That way, I know what the workout was supposed to be and how well I completed that,” says Gentry. Bonus points for doing this step in a different color pen.
3. Write bullets about how the run physically felt
Was your hamstring tight during your deadlifts? Did you forget your chews and lose your energy halfway through your run? Use this space to record how your body felt from head to toe.
4. Bullet point the emotional part of the workout
Next, Gentry loves to reflect on how the workout itself felt. Don’t overthink this step—just let your thoughts flow and don’t have expectations for what might appear on the page. Exercise can elicit a lot of emotions, and it’s all part of the experience. (Anyone who’s ever cried in hot yoga can attest to this fact.)
5. Try to identify why you felt the way you felt—both mentally and physically
As her final journaling step, Gentry goes back through her entries and tries to get to the bottom of that cramp that cropped up or those big feelings that occurred in mile five. “I can say: ‘Okay, that happened because you didn’t warm up properly’ or ‘You felt fatigued because you were dehydrated,'” says Gentry. If non-physical pain shows up, maybe you can trace it back to a hard day at work or a challenging life change. That means that you’ll understand yourself better by the time the clock starts on your next workout—and isn’t that the whole point of sweating in the first place?
Now! Let’s get you a workout you can journal about. Start with this quick treadmill sesh:
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