98% of my logs and journals are now useless. Why? Because,
- LOGS ARE CONSUMABLES THAT EXPIRE
Your logs and journals are like meat. They can be used only when they are fresh.
When I was 18 I used to think keeping training and eating records would allow me to recreate my results any time later in life. Hey! I got results and had records of it, I knew what worked for my own body. Finally! It’s good to have the record! It’s like a recipe! Like baking a cake! Right? Wrong. Cake baking variables don’t really change and all the variables are known. Your body really does change and only a few of the variables are things you’re aware of. Your metabolism is a mystery and it changes. So does your life. And circumstances. And beliefs. And habits. And goals. Your hormones change big time. And your body’s ability to react to hormones changes big time. Ka-Boom.
The whole notion of diligent long-term logging year in year out is that you will start sucking one day and won’t know why, and that somehow the data you collected from years ago will rescue you. That’s assuming you even log the right things in the first place. But it doesn’t even matter. The reality is you know what you need to do, so fucking do it. And someone might say: “Yes, but Juji, what if I kept some instructions for how to execute a certain skill? Technique follows certain unchanging principles!” That sort of technical information is similar to instructions on how to update your computer BIOS or make an origami bird. Indeed, it seems to stand the test of time… Or does it?
You got rid of your old computer 10 years ago so why the fuck do you need instructions on how to update its BIOS now? Make an origami bird? That was like a 2 week phase you went through 2 years ago. Sure, the instructions for making the bird still work, but seriously. Face. Fucking. Reality. Those logged instructions are useless because you won’t use them, you don’t care.
I made an example out of the origami bird but the same is true for skills: the usefuleness of those unchanging technical principles expire with everything else you’ve ever written down. Why? Because 5 years ago I wrote down how to do a hyperswipe_msc_gainer tricking combo when I was 200 lbs. I filmed it. It was cool. I got what I needed out of that tricking combo. Now I’m 230 lbs and have new goals. The hyperswipe_msc_gainer served its purpose like the instructions for making that origami bird. I don’t do birds or that combo anymore. These logged instructions are now useless to me. Oh sure they’re still correct, but correct doesn’t mean useful. And for whatever possible reasons I may need to ressurect that combo or make that origami bird again or whatever-the-fuck, I have faith that the new experiences and revelations I’ve accrued since that time will crossover and provide me all the help I need to make that combo work again. I have faith in myself and my work and my brain’s capability to retain the most important information.
So, I wrote in the past that elites across all fields may keep training journals, and made an argument in favor of them over logs. I whole heartidly believe that journals are superior to logs. But training journals expire too! You may think your old thoughts from 4 years back may be the spring board you need today to jump start further progress but the reality is that 98% of it is as worthless as all the other crap you logged.
Peeking into old journals is good for consolation, memory lane, nostalgia. More or less like a comforting stuffed animal toy. My wife is much more comforting than a stuffed animal toy, and so she is much more comforting than my old thoughts when I was an inexperienced 22-23-24-something year old. If she was gone tomorrow and I needed help to overcome the grief, I would definitely not be looking into my old journals when I was the aforementioned inexperienced 22-23-24-something year old. I’d be writing NEW things, and through the process would understand that the very process of writing itself is what provides me the most value, not what is written.
[All my journals, it was the act of writing that mattered, not what was written.]
So if your training/eating/whatever logs and journals are older than 1 year they’re useless now. If you’re an elite athlete then anything older than 2 months is useless. No, really. Think about it: how many elite athletes out there do you think there are who regularly and diligently study their training logs from years and years and years ago looking at reps, sets, weights, calories? Give me a fucking break. They’re elite for god’s sake! They’re trying to solve recent, much bigger problems that stand in their way of very big success. Harking back to training logs of their youth will tell them nothing because that was small time. Those were small problems.
Why? Why am I saying this? Because I’m doing you the favor of helping you save your GOD DAMN TIME. You’re probably logging all sorts of shit because someone told you that you should. Hell, I have preached several times in the past the dogma of logging virtues. Look, I’m in this with you, I’m guilty too! So let me speak of all this for myself as well. Do we even think what we’re going to actually use the data for when we write it down? The reps, sets, weight, calories, thoughts, feelings, whatever, anything, ever? Listen, the unchanging important things: the important things we learn and discern, you and I both know them! Just like our login passwords, we memorize them. If we rationalize that we need all the data to do the right thing down the road we’re being fools. We know what the right things are and we will remember them. We know what the fuck we need to do to get back on top. So let’s not be pussy log misers digging around in ancient data for details and events that can’t possibly be relevant to us anymore!
So look, logging and journaling is NOT an exercise in writing down what we did to dig into it years later. Instead, logging and journaling must be an exercise in organizing our thoughts and feelings and data about a problem that we want to solve right now! Much like a math problem we don’t know the answer to yet but want or need,
Hard-as-balls math equations get left up on chalk boards for weeks. They are a log of the most recent caliber: these seemingly impossible equations do not reference basic algebra, those are known. The most recent work of importance is there to be seen and considered as one passes by them everyday in hopes that soon one will take that 100th look at it again and have a grand epiphany. This “equation being left up on a chalk board” thing is all about the next step. Much like the log boards on walls across gyms in this world:
The 1 essential logging rule demands us to identify and take the next step toward a goal. And when that goal is achieved, the lessons learned, the next step is taken. The things we need to work out of our heads, let’s get the paper and the pen and map it out, like solving the math problem, we’re trying to make sense of the seemingly dissonant shit in our brains. Logging and journaling is not an exercise in writing down what we did for later, it is an exercise in figuring out and organizing the thoughts and feelings and details about what we are doing now: yesterday, today, and tomorrow. So we can use the magic of external RAM (paper or a .txt document) to turn that dissonant shit into sensible order and actions and steps that will improve us right now! So let’s get over data accumulation logging habits and get exactly what we need out of logging. Let’s learn a new way to log. We need some rules. See the other post I just published, The 2 critical logging rules.