An athlete’s approach to how to best use the Success Journal!!!

Dear Fellow Athletes,

Heather wanted me to share my experiences in using the CrossFit Success Journal in support of each of you maximizing your training.  For me, it’s an invaluable tool.

As a psychotherapist I know how closely related the mind is to the body.  I’ve used  journaling and record keeping for the last seven years to chart dietary changes and associated health benefits, sleep progress (it’s a problem area for me), and body weight.  I weigh myself at the same time every morning, and write my Monday morning weight on dated 3 x 5 cards.  I keep a three-week moving average card as well, so I can chart long-term progress (or regression) through the weekly fluctuations.  I do the same with sleep, and I’m convinced this helps me stay the course in areas of challenge.  I’ve got a stack of these in my bathroom drawer with a pencil, and at this point it’s become habit and effortless.

Using this, I know what helps me and what is deadly, in many areas of my life.

This may sound profoundly geeky (I reclaim my inner nerd!), but this orientation to ongoing charting and knowing where I’ve been, where I am now, and where I’m going, really has helped my workouts, my overall health, and sense of getting the conditioning I’m looking for.  And not unimportantly, it’s helped my mental health, happiness and peace of mind. 

So, here are some tips for using the Success Journal:

1)      I have an approach that seeks to improve my workout performance in very slow, but very steady, increments.  Some days I’ll keep weights the same and seek to increase time, or vice versa, knowing I’m in for the long haul.  (And I’m 57 years old, so all you young punks have no excuseJ.)  As an example, my next goal is to work with significantly lighter kettle bells so that I can get my left arm as strong as my right after injuring it a year ago and realizing I do most of my work with my right arm.

2)      I always bring my book to class, and it lives in the front of my car, with my jump rope. 

3)      I’ve gotten in the habit of taking that extra 3 minutes at the end of each workout to really use the “Workout of the Day” pages.  I’m learning how to title the WOD, and I underline it, so that I can quickly flip through the book and find references to previous workouts, as I’m seeking to find what is optimal in my workout today.  So for example, if today’s WOD is Strict Press 10×3, I know that I did 95# in the Strict Press5x5 on 6/26/12, and I wrote “95# is about max for Strict Press 5×5” in the “Post-WOD/Notes” box on that page.  That then helps me shoot for 95# today, and know that I might be seriously challenged at the end of my reps.  If I’m feeling puny, I might go for 90#.

4)      I also make sure I’m keeping accurate, up to date records in the front of the book in the “CrossFit Girls,” “CrossFit Heroes,” “Benchmark WODs,” “Benchmark Lifts,” and “Personal Records” section.  This is crucial, and more about this below.

5)      The most important discovery I’d like to share, however, is one I found just recently.  More and more I’m utilizing the combination of the “Athletic Levels & Milestones” pages at the back of the book and the aforementioned “Benchmark” and “Personal Records” section in the front.

In pencil, I record my weights and times in the “Athletic Levels & Milestones’ section, just scribbled in and circled, to give a sense of where I am.  (I’m solidly in “Craftsman” territory and moving into “Expert.”)  I erase and add new weights and times as they improve.  The best part though, is then using that info to go back to the front of the book and write, in pencil again, my goals in the margins, next to specific skills in the “Benchmark” and “Personal Records” section.

        That way I can quickly turn to that section at the beginning of my workout and know exactly what goal I’m looking to achieve for a particular workout.  For example, recently the WOD was a PR for 400m run.  My previous best was 2:09, which had me in the “Apprentice” category.  I wanted to move up to the “Craftsman” category, so I knew I needed to run a 1:45.  Previously I had entered 1:45 as my goal in the margin on the 400m run part of the “Personal Records” page, so at the beginning of the WOD I was aiming for that.  That morning I ran a 1:40.  I was so satisfied!

6)      I use the little “PR? (Y/N?)” slot at the bottom right corner of the “Workout of the Day” section and always write a “Y” there (if it’s a milestone for me), circled, at the end of the workout so I can flip through and update my Personal Records section every few weeks.

7)      Lastly, (I’m sure there’s more, but enough from me, you’ll find your own creative ideas), when I was beginning to chart all this, I realized I didn’t know my 2 minute max squats, for example, so I set about methodically, over time, testing myself at home and filling in those incomplete areas in the book.

So, I’m sure you get the concept.  This may seem like a lot of work, but really, at this point, it takes less than 5 minutes total for all of this, and only on my workout days.  I’ve found significantly better results, happiness, and even playful creativity in messing around with all this.  And, of course, it delights me to no end annoying my lovely and very patient wife as she rolls her eyes lovingly whilst I drone on about another daily milestone.

Bottom line:  I’m pretty damn happy, and in way better shape than 97% of 57 year olds.  And I want to have another 40+ years annoying my wife J

Thanks CrossFit,

Lon Rankin 


LOVE THAT!!!!!!!!


50 Wall balls

40 KB Swings (24/16)

30 Box Jumps

20 Burpees

10 Toes to Bar

20 Burpees

30 Box Jumps

40 KB Swings

50 Wall Balls

Mobility WOD