Keeping Track: Why a Running Log is Important
Every runner has his or her own reasons for pounding out the miles. It could be to lose weight. It could be to get faster. It could be to run longer. It could just be for sanity’s sake. But whatever the reason, keeping a record of your runs is critical to your success.
You don’t have to have anything fancy — a plain old notebook will do. But if having a nicely bound journal, a special calendar, or a file on your computer helps you be faithful to your running log, by all means, do whatever works for you.
Why should I keep a log?
You may wonder why you should bother recording your runs if you’re not a world-class runner. Here are some great reasons:
If you have a certain race in mind, or a certain PR you want to beat, write it down. If you want to be a certain weight by a certain day, note that. Even if you just want to run 3 days a week, it’s a great goal! Having a target means you have something to work for so your running has a purpose. And there’s nothing sweeter than reaching that goal.
Once you have your goals, formulate a plan to get there. Writing something down is much more powerful than keeping it to yourself. Putting the goal on paper means you’re committed. But it’s hard to stick to a plan if it overwhelms you. Break your goal down into manageable steps and you’re more likely to stay on track and achieve it.
A running log helps you not only see where you’re going, but also to see where you’ve been. If you put a lot of details into your log, you should be able to see what has worked for you and what hasn’t. You can tweak your training based on previous runs, which should enhance your performance. It will also help boost your confidence, and keep your running interesting.
No one wants to be sidelined with an injury. When you write down any pain you have, you might be able to prevent serious problems. You’ll see when you should take it easy or take time off altogether. You’ll be able to figure out what kind of recovery works best, and how long it took. You’ll also be able to record your frustration or anger or any other feeling you have, which will be good for your emotional health.
Keeping a running log shouldn’t be a chore. View at it as a personal history of who you are. When you read old training logs, you’ll be surprised at the gems you find. You’ll remember some great times and some not so great times, but every memory will keep you motivated to run.
What to write down?
There are some basic items you should record every time you run (although you can write down anything you like):
The date and time
If you always run in the morning, you might want to mix it up and try running at a different time of the day, just to see what it’s like and how it affects your training.
Your running goal
It doesn’t matter if you put it in mileage, such as “I want to run 6 miles today”, or in time “I want to run for 45 minutes today”, or a combination “I want to run 6 miles today in 45 minutes”.
Was it too hot, too cold, or just right? Was it windy, was it humid, was it perfect?
Did you run on the track or on a treadmill? Or maybe you took to the hills, or ran on the beach.
Write down what you ate, if anything, before you ran and what time you ate it. Also write down what you consumed during the run—was it water, a sports drink, protein?
Actual length and time
Be sure to record how far you went and how long it took you.
How you feel
Be honest here. If you got a runner’s high, then celebrate it. If you were nauseated or physically or mentally tired, say so. You don’t have to analyze yourself, just write it down. It will help you see the slumps every runner occasionally goes through.
Be sure to add up your weekly mileage. This will help ensure you’re not increasing your distance by more than 10% each week. And because the numbers never lie, you’ll be able to see your progress. Another tip: circle or highlight the day you got new running shoes and calculate the miles in those shoes. As a general rule, you don’t want to put more than 500 miles on any pair.
Happy running, and happy logging!