Creating A Running Log: The Basics
Running is a different animal than other sports in the fact that it can be very individualistic. Two sprinters can have different outcomes from the same workout. An 800m runner and a 1600m runner will have different opinions on how the 10K progression workout felt. And if you are training by yourself, it can be difficult to see what you need to do in order to get faster, stronger, and more efficient.
All of these are reasons why creating and maintaining a running log is beneficial for athletes of all skill levels -- from the beginners to the Olympians.
The Format of the Log
You can format your running log to be as general or as specific as you want. What matters is that you make the dedication to fill it out regularly. For my former high school team, I made it a requirement for my athletes to fill out a workout log during every practice, competition, and even on their own. Their journal looked close to this:
1. Hours of sleep the previous night
2. Diet (breakfast/lunch/dinner/snacks)
3. Workout (or miles ran)
4. How did you feel after? (workout or competition)
5. What could you improve on?
6. What did you win today? (what was the best part of your day (didn't have to be running/practice specific)
Now the above detailed not only their running, but their eating and sleeping habits too. I wanted to see the whole athlete because sometimes adjustments needed to be made if they weren't getting enough sleep or food. I am not saying that your running log needs to be this detailed, but find something that works best for you. A beginning log can look like this:
2. Running location
3. Workout/Miles ran
4. How did you feel
Tracking Workouts and Miles
The benefit of tracking your workouts and distances is that you can monitor your progress and find problem areas that you can concentrate on. If you see in your log that every 5-mile run you finish you report that your back is killing you, you can see clearly that you may need to add some strengthening exercises for your quads and hips. Or, if you're doing interval training and see that you're recovering faster, you can decrease the recovery time for the next workout.
For long distance runners, it is easy to get into a routine and pick your favorite running routes. Using a log to track where you are running can switch things up. Try running a route that has more than the usual hills, and then throw in a flat course or track. See how you feel running the same distance on trails, street, and treadmill. When you try different things and record the outcomes, you get a much better picture of the type of shape you are in.
Getting into the habit of logging your running will help you keep yourself accountable. If you are running 3x a week, forcing yourself to keep your log regular is a great way to keep yourself going. And, believe it or not, there are actual online communities that you can utilize for help and support as well! If the pen and pad are too outdated for you, there are some online ways to log your runs and keep you accountable.
1. MapMyRun -- website and phone app where you can log your runs, distances, and you can say how it went.
2. RunKeeper -- pretty much the same.
3. Fitocracy -- fitness community and phone app where you can log your workouts, runs, and encourage others doing the same thing.
4. Athletic.Net-- usually reserved for athletes on clubs and teams, but you can create a free account and build a workout log. Need accountability? Make your workout log public and share it so others can view your workouts and progress.
Your running log isn't going to start itself. Create some goals, monitor your progress, and keep at it.