Most likely, you don’t remember the majority of your training runs. Ok so some of them you may not want to remember, but it’s important to have a reference.
As runners, we’re often compelled to keep a training log (or, running journal) to make our running achievements more concrete, considering you can’t really see your progress. But a running journal can actually make us more motivated, more confident and more aware runners, and keeping one is especially helpful for both new and experienced runners.
Somewhere along the way, just about every runner hits what seems like a wall. Either they don’t feel great mentally, they’re having aches and pains, or feeling like their training just needs a little more pep. Maybe a jump in mileage is you feel especially tired, maybe you’ve been steadily increasing for too long, doing hard workouts too often, or just need a day off. A training log can lead you to reasons why you’re feeling a certain way and can give you a precise starting point to correct any issues.
By recording race results and splits, you can look back to see how you trained for those PRs. Believe it or not, training details can be easy to forget! By keeping track, you can pinpoint ways to improve that training to continue to grow stronger as a runner.
Running achievements aren’t something we can necessarily touch, unless of course (you guessed it) you keep a running journal! Sitting down after a training run recording numbers and thoughts makes you much more aware of yourself as a runner, and makes you feel more invested in the sport. Instead of just going about your day, you reflect on the achievement of finishing something that actually made you stronger. And it’s nice to look back on them once in a while too, just like those old high school yearbooks...maybe.
This one might sound silly now, but there is no way you can keep track of the miles on your shoes. You’re building up mileage quickly and before you know it, you have 300 miles on your shoes (you should typically replace running shoes between 300-400 miles). Keeping this information in your running journal is the perfect way keep track!
After each run, jot a few notes in this journal, it doesn’t have to take up a lot of time. Basic information you should include are distance, duration and format of your workout. It can be as simple as “5 miles (45:30).” When your workouts change pace, you’ll want to record times for each segment, such as “1-mile warmup (8:07), 4x100m strides, 10x300m (57, 57, 59, 56, 58, 57, 55, 57, 58, 57) w 300m recoveries, 1-mile cooldown (8:49).
The essential information is a weekly mileage total at the end of each week, but you may want to include additional data we mentioned, such as aches and pains, heart rate, shoes you wore, hours of sleep from the night before, how you felt during your run and the weather. This information can provide useful information as you progress for troubleshooting, and of course, to “see” your accomplishments.