Essential Equipment: A Notebook


“I want to run a marathon.”

“Awesome, that’s a great goal that a lot of people have in common. What’s your mile time right now?”

“Um. I ran, like, 5 miles on Sunday.”

“Great! What was your time?”

“Less than an hour.”

“So you don’t know your exact time?”


“Ok. Well, it’s gonna be hard to improve on something if we don’t know where we’re at, huh?”


So simple

You need to be keeping track of what you’re doing. You need to have some kind of tracking system in place so that you can track how your training is going, how your diet is going, heck, even how your life is going.

Most of us lack a little accuracy in our lives. We think that I can do “about” 20 push-ups, or run a mile in “about” 8 minutes. You may even be right. But that “about” leaves a lot of wiggle room, and makes it more challenging to track progress. If you know that you can do 18 push-ups, and have a mile time of 8:43, it makes it that much sweeter when you break 20, and can crank through a mile in 8:02!

It’s in the numbers

Now, we can make a quick list of the numbers that you should know, but it could potentially be quite a few (times for 100 burpees, 1 mile, 400 meter run, 100 double unders, plank hold, wall-sit hold, pull-up hold; max reps of push-ups, pull-ups, consecutive squats; 1 rep max weight for bench press, deadlift, squats (back, front & overhead), clean. Now those are a LOT of numbers to keep track of. Now, you may not actually know how many push-ups you can do in a row, or what your mile time is, but you SHOULD have it written down somewhere where you can reference it. That somewhere shouldn’t be a post-it note either. It should be where you’re writing all your information about your progress.

Low Tech

Could you use a cool fitness tracking app on your phone? Sure. But I’m a little old fashioned, and a lot Paleo, so I stick with the good old notebook. It never runs out of batteries, and if I need to update because it’s full, it’s usually less than $1.

You’ll be surprised how just writing down a few results from your workouts can make a huge difference. Most people that come into my gym come in with the feeling of, “Well, I’m not THAT bad,” and find out very quickly that they are WAY further behind than they had anticipated. If they had been keeping track, they would already know that they can barely do 5 push-ups in a row, and wouldn’t be surprised when their arms start to fail at rep 6 or 7 in the workout today.

Keep track of the past, look to the future

It’s not a crazy bad idea to throw in a few goals into that notebook as well. You don’t need to date it or anything, as in, “Run a marathon by Tuesday.” but just having the goals written down will start the process of grounding them in reality. (Appropriate goal setting is a subject for a future post. ;) Many times, what’s more important are the things that you’ve already DONE that you record in that notebook of yours. I don’t know about you, but I feel a LOT better looking at a book full of things that I’ve already done, rather than a list I never quite got to.

So go dig through the kitchen cupboard, or stop at the drug store on the way home from work, and find a notebook to start recording your progress. The style isn’t important, that you start keeping track of your awesomeness is.

P.S. If you DO have some sort of super-awesome workout tracker app that you can’t live without, let us know in the comments! We’d love to hear how you’re tracking your workouts.

This blog post was written by the coach & owner of CrossFit 1440, and Paleo eater, Max Shippee.