Every morning in Africa a gazelle wakes up. It knows it must outrun the fastest lion or it will be killed. Every morning in Africa a lion wakes up. It knows it must run faster than the slowest gazelle or it will starve. It doesn't matter whether you're a lion or a gazelle-when the sun comes up, you'd better be running.

Friday, July 22, 2011

The Importance of Keeping a Running Log

I'll be the first to admit I don't really like having to write things down and keep track of them. But when it comes to my running, I will definitely make the sacrifice. Why? A running log is important on many levels. It helps you keep track of how many miles/minutes you are running a week. It helps you see trends in your training i.e. when you feel good, when you get tired, when you are running fast or slow, etc. If you want to improve and keep your body healthy, a running log is definitely something you need to add to your regimen.

There are five basic things every running log should include:
  1. Date: This one seems obvious to me, but you need to keep track of the dates of your runs so you can see overall trends and keep your log organized.
  2. Miles/Minutes: You need to be able to write down how many miles you do every run. If you don't track your miles, then track your minutes so you know about how long your runs are. I like to keep track of both. That way I can see what my average pace is.
  3. Type of run: I like to keep track of whether I'm running on roads, trails or grass. I also like to write down whether it was a recovery run, a distance run, a tempo run, etc. I do this under the heading "type"
  4. Route name/description: This is good to keep track of because you can monitor how long certain routes typically take to run.
  5. Comments: You need a section for comments. This is where you write down how you felt. Was it hard, easy, boring? Are you sick or healthy? Any injuries? Was it really hot or cold? Write down anything you feel may be important to remember. 
There are a bunch of other options to include in a running log that are important as well.
  • Heart rate: If you have a HR (heart rate) monitor (which is such a helpful training tool), it is important to keep track of your average heart rate on each run to know how hard you were working.
  • Temperature: It's nice to know what temperatures you run best in. If you find you run great in ___ degree weather, you know about what time of day to plan your runs. You can also see if you need to bundle up more in the cold or maybe take your run inside to the treadmill on a really hot/cold day.
  • # of Push-ups/Crunches: I like to keep track of this because it makes me do it! If I have a blank spot in my training log with the words push-ups/crunches glaring at me, I am much more likely to get the done so I don't have to feel guilty for leaving it blank.
  • Hours of sleep: This is important and useful to keep track of because it helps you see how much sleep you get when you are feeling your best. Some people run great off 5-6 hours, others like me need at least 8 to really feel good.
Feel free to include anything else you want. A training log is for your personal use, so customize it to best suit your needs. You can buy a running log at bookstores and at most running stores. You can also just Google search "free running log" and print off whatever comes up (that's what I did, although I definitely wish it was a little nicer with more room to write stuff). If you are going to buy one, I really like this log, it has all your needs covered, with plenty of room to keep track of anything you desire. It also has a place to keep track of all your races, making it easy to see your progress over time :)
The Runner's Diary: A Daily Training Log

There are also some really good internet running logs that are awesome. I recommend and currently use DailyMile and MapMyRun.com (I mostly have a hard copy running log that I use, I am not consistent enough on keeping up with my internet logs). I really like the internet logs for the fact that you can map out a run and see how long it is. The reason I don't use them more often is that I run trails a lot and the trails aren't on the maps. But if you don't like having a hard copy, or don't care, then these are both really awesome online resources.

So keep running and start tracking! To be a great athlete, you must be a student of your sport.

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