A lot of climbers find that after they've been climbing a while, they tend to hit a plateau in ability. This might be despite "training hard". The real issue is that to improve, you must gradually increase either the volume or the intensity of your training, and there is no way of doing this without using a training diary to plan things out. Don't stop reading! This doesn't have to be a big deal or difficult to maintain. I'll tell you what I do.
- I go to http://www.printfree.com/Calendars.htm and print out a monthly horizontal calendar for the year.
- I leave it on my desk at work.
- I use a pencil!
- I plan out a training regime – at the moment I’m going for a phased approach (similar to the one described here). For this I generally pick when I want to peak (say, Easter in the Bluies), then work backwards to figure out when each phase will be.
- I might plan out training days a week or two in advance (for example next week is a Load week, so Sun hangboarding, Monday long resistance intervals, Tue and Wed rest, Thurs short resistance intervals, Fri something, undecided and Saturday lots of volume on rock). This stuff sounds complex, but you don't have to go into this much depth.
- Hopefully I would stick to the plan but if not, I erase what was planned and put in there what actually happened and also include how I felt, remembering that one of the major things you’re trying to gauge all the time is training load (e.g. home bouldering, 1.5 hours, felt tired). Also include when you feel in peak form, because then you can easily see what kind of training and rest led to this, and you can recreate it.
Doing this doesn’t take very long, and allows you to take control of your training. Ultimately, you can end up training less for greater benefit - if you do it smart. Good luck!