Whenever someone takes up running they have specific goals in mind. Perhaps it is time to finally shed those extra 15 pounds they’ve been carrying around for so long. Maybe running a marathon is on their bucket list. Of course, it could simply just be to stay in good shape. Beyond the right shoes, stretching and finding a clear path, one of the most important tools that a runner should utilize is a running log. The type of journal doesn’t really matter. It can be a small notepad, a spreadsheet on a computer, or even an app on your smartphone. What does matter is that the runner is consistent with their entries. Here are some thoughts to consider with regard to how to keep a running log.
Set Your Goals
A new runner who is training for a marathon will have an obvious goal in mind. They want to build up their endurance to meet the challenges of that race. Other runners who are focused on weight lose should set a target to hit (and exceed!). Having a goal allows the runner to stay focused on an objective and provide them with a kind of result threshold. This goal should be forefront in the running journal and can obviously be updated as the running progresses.
How will a runner achieve their goals? They will do so by hitting certain benchmarks in their regimen. There are certainly standard milestones to achieve but every runner’s program is different and should be tailored made to their own abilities. A person who starts running on a Saturday is not going to be up for a marathon by Tuesday.
Take Note of The Progress
Making note of these milestones is a good way to track a runner’s progress and a perfect start for how to keep a running log active. A quick glance at a running journal should provide a snapshot of how far the runner has advance since starting out their running routines. This is where using a spreadsheet program to record the information might be a practical option. There are plenty of smartphone apps that can also help a runner keep track of their progress.
What To Record
Keeping an active running journal shouldn’t be looked upon as a kind of “homework assignment.” It should become a natural extension of the overall running program. A runner who sticks with that program can look back in several months and/or years to really see how far they’ve improved. The following is a list of the items a runner should take note of:
- The Day and Time
- The Objective
- The Weather Conditions
- The Route
- The Diet
- The Results of the Run
- The Injuries
- The Emotional/ Physical Response
There might only be a specific time that is convenient for a runner such as an early morning job before work or a late evening run before bed. If there is an occasion to vary this routine then keeping track of the day and time might illuminate a better option for the run. In other words, a runner could discover they get more out of their workout by switching the times.
Not only should you have an overall goal but also a specific goal for each day. These can be duration or distance. They can even be a combination of both of those factors.
It is easy to run in good weather but when it gets colder or even too hot it can affect a runner’s pattern. Having a record of weather conditions as it relates to specific runs will help keep the runner informed as to what they can expect on any given day.
The act of running can be accomplished in a gym on a treadmill, at a track or along a path. Each one of those route options presents their own challenges and rewards.
Just as weather conditions and route can impact a runner’s workout, so can their diet. Part of how to keep a running log should consist of what the runner ate before the run, what time that was consumed and anything they ate or drank during the run, such a protein drink or bar.
Clearly, keeping track of the results is key to a successful runner’s log. You’ll know in an instant what you achieved for that day and can adjust your future goals. Best of all, your results are going to be your “bragging rights!” You’ve earned them, so now spread your success!
If a runner is sidelined by an injury that should be included in the log as well. It will also help to take note of how the injury occurred in order to avoid repeating that in the future.
After every workout, the runner is going to feel something. This could be sheer exhaustion or the so-called “runner’s high.” They could also feel nauseated, sore or amped up. Whatever the emotional or physical response is after a run it should be noted in the journal.
A runner’s log doesn’t have to be shared with anyone. In other words, the specific notations aren’t as important as what the runner does with that information. Will they make adjustments of time of day to improve their run? Do they need to change their diet? Have they sufficiently challenged themselves? How long did it take to achieve the goals? The answers to those questions and many more can be found in a thorough runner’s log.