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This is why every runner should keep a training log

I’m not overly sentimental when it comes to dealing with memories. Although I was much more of a goalie when I was just starting out in sports – going so far as to post every race bib I’ve ever worn on the walls of my bedroom – I have become more minimalist as I got older. I no longer save running medals, trophies or t-shirts unless they are particularly meaningful, like those from an Olympic practice race or a breakthrough marathon.

An exception to this approach is my collection of workout logs. Those, I will never part with. I started documenting my daily runs the summer I joined my high school cross country ski team and have continued to train ever since. I now have 16 journals, each capturing a year of my running journey and together providing clear proof of how far I’ve come since I was an untrained but enthusiastic pre-teen. I flip through them like someone else might in a scrapbook, often looking for one thing (like a memorable workout) but getting carried away with runs, runs and corresponding emotions that I’ve since forgotten. long time.

Whatever your level of runner (rookie, amateur, elite or pro), you will also benefit from the recording of your training.

Why should you keep a logbook

There are a number of reasons why recording your training is a good idea. Among the most obvious, it allows you to track your progress over time, remember what you’ve done in the past, and identify subtle warning signs and patterns, such as shin pain afterward. running a certain distance, or faster workouts when you are with a particular training partner. A journal also holds you accountable for your plan, as no committed runner wants to see an empty entry (unless, of course, it’s a scheduled day off). A long time ago, I got into the habit of filling out my workout diary every night before bed, and I still find it a great way to turn the page one day and prepare for the next day. .

Another benefit of documenting your training is that you will theoretically stay healthier if you pay attention to metrics like how many miles your shoes have traveled (an indicator of when it’s time to replace them), how long it is. ‘has elapsed since your last day off. , and how your body feels when you increase your kilometers and / or your intensity. I am confident that my training journal has saved me from serious injury more than once in the past, as recognizing a pain or pain is usually the first step in addressing it.

Physical or digital race logs

Digital training platforms hadn’t yet taken shape when I opened my first journal, and I’m actually glad I didn’t have that option. I find so much satisfaction in putting pen to paper and having physical books to flip through that I don’t think I’ll ever go high-tech with this habit. I also love the process of starting each new year with a blank slate and will admit that I spend a lot more time than is reasonable choosing the next journal I will use. While sometimes I choose a sport-specific option like the Believe Training Journal, created by professional runners Lauren Fleshman and Roisin McGettigan-Dumas, more often than not I choose a more traditional agenda like those from Rifle Paper Co. or Moleskin.

Believe Training Journal



$ 21.95

Rifle Paper Co. 2021 Wild Garden 17 Month Planner

Rifle Paper Co. 2021 Wild Garden 17 Month Planner



$ 14.99

"Moleskine 12 Month 2021 Weekly Planner

“Moleskine 12 Month 2021 Weekly Planner



$ 21.81

If, on the other hand, you’re more inclined to track your logs if you can do it on your phone or computer, that’s the whole reason you need to go digital. Your options are plentiful and varied. Strava, which has a built-in (competitive) community and connects to smartwatches and phones for effortless data downloading, is worth considering. Final Surge, where you can create workouts, share your workout with trainers and others, and connect to platforms such as Garmin Connect and ZWIFT; and Running-log.com, a free and easy service for recording races and tracking progress.

What to include

What goes into your journal is entirely up to you. If you are generally talkative or find the process therapeutic, your entries will likely be longer than someone with a straightforward style who only cares about the essentials. Both full sentences and bullets are fair game. What I write in mine has changed over the years – I was much more rudimentary when I first started – but these have been my consistent inclusions for several years:

  • Distance and race time
    • For easy races or recovery
  • Splits for each representative
  • Race location
  • Weather conditions, if unusual (such as wind, snow, rain or extreme heat)
  • Race partners, if applicable
  • General thoughts about the day, like how much effort I felt in the race and how satisfied I was with it
  • Additional exercises, including core work, strength training, and stretching

Other notable details, such as a poor night’s sleep, upset stomach, a date with a sports psychologist, or a body part that isn’t quite feeling well

Here’s an example of a recent entry, taken directly from my current workout log: “16 mi. comfortable with Will at White Rock Lake – 7:08 am on average, felt great once my Achilles warmed up. Mid 80’s when we were done.

Make it yours

Beyond what you decide to include in your journal, there are endless ways to personalize it. I like to write my running schedule in bright colors, and I often retroactively highlight key workouts in neon pink or yellow (usually when I’m building my confidence before a big run). One year, I chose and wrote a different quote or mantra for each week, and tried to embody it in my most difficult sessions.

My data-loving husband knows himself well enough to know that a physical journal is not something he is particularly motivated to follow. Instead, he created some pretty elaborate Excel spreadsheets, which required a fair amount of upfront work, but not a lot on a daily basis. It doesn’t matter where or how you take your training; the key is that you do it consistently.

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