The modern runner has quite a few tools at their disposal. From your running shoes to fitness trackers, you need these things to push yourself and achieve new personal bests. One thing that doesn’t often get the love it deserves is a running log. Although it might seem simple or maybe a bit superfluous to some, it could be the secret to breaking records and going further in your running career. Here’s everything you need to know about keeping a running log.
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What Is a Running Log?
A running log is simply anything that records your progress over time. As you already know, just running and mentally keeping track of your progress can get confusing. Sure, you might remember what you ran the previous day, but what about two weeks ago? A month ago? A year ago? You have too much going on in your life to meticulously remember all of these details.
Your running log is a living document that tells the story of your running career. Whether you’re running for fun, training for a race or just trying to be healthier, keeping a log is a must for any runner.
There Are Multiple Ways to Keep a Running Log
So, how do you go about keeping a running log? There are a few ways. If you’re interested in the simplest, it’s likely a pen and paper. You also get the satisfaction of holding a physical record of all of your runs, from the easy, breezy ones to the challenging workouts. Another way would be using a note-taking app on your phone or using one of the many apps out there.
At the end of the day, all of these methods provide the same result, it just comes down to what’s most convenient and easiest for you. After all, if keeping a running log is a hassle, you’re less likely to keep it updated.
Track Your Progress Over Time with a Running Log
When you lift weights over time, you’ll see the results in the mirror. When you lace up your basketball shoes often, you’ll notice an improvement in your jump shot. When it comes to running, the results aren’t always as evident. Some people can live without physical results, but there’s no denying that seeing progress can be inspiring.
Your running log is essentially the record of your running career. If you use it long enough, you can look back and amaze yourself with your progress. Again, most of us might not be able to clearly remember our mile times from 6 months ago, but when these stats live in your running log, you get the joyous feeling of seeing the seconds you shaved off or see areas you can improve.
Logging Your Runs Keep You Accountable
Not everything is all rosy in running logs. We all have our off days and it’s important to acknowledge them and the things that might hold you back. If you just put them out of sight, you could end up repeating the same mistakes and an off day could turn into an off week, an off month or worse. Keep yourself accountable and be honest.
The running log never lies, so if you see progress stagnating or slipping, make adjustments to your training regimen to overcome these setbacks. Without a running log, even the most dedicated runners might ignore signs of trouble and pretend they don’t exist. Running is a long-term hobby for many and a lifestyle for many others. If you value your training and your progress, just as every basketball star needs reliable basketball shoes, a running log is a must to stay at the top of your game.
You Don’t Need to Be a Pro to Have a Running Log
It doesn’t matter if you’ve been running for years or just bought your first pair of “good” running shoes, everyone should have a running log. It might even be most important for beginners since they’re just starting and have a clean canvas to work on. An important thing to note is that while friendly competition is great, try not to compare your running log to others too often.
We’re all on our own running journey and some of us have natural talents that make us better runners. Focus on what you can do to be a better runner and celebrate all of your wins along the way—even if it’s just completing a mile 2 seconds faster than last time.
Include These 5 Things in Your Running Log
So, what are the most important metrics to track in your running log? While your goals might rely on certain metrics over others, you can’t go wrong with tracking as much data as possible. This way, you can paint a clearer picture of your performance and progress. Here are the five things to include after every run.
Most of us have our PRs memorized, but tracking your total run time after every run will provide more insight into your overall progress. Throughout the week, you might see some fluctuations, but as the months go by, you should start to see a trend. Whether you’re getting faster, slower or staying relatively the same, you’ll only know if you have times marked down.
Most runners have a weekly mileage goal, so tracking the total mileage of a run helps you stay on track. You also have a chance to see how your distances have changed over time. As you progress, you might start running more. Even if you don’t, it’s cool to add up the total at the end of the year and sit back in amazement at all of the distance you’ve covered.
If you plan on racing in the future, it’s helpful to know your mile pace so you can maintain it during training and on race day. At the end of a run, calculate your average mile pace to have a better understanding of what is realistically achievable come race day.
The Type of Run
It’s crucial to note the type of run, so you don’t look back with a tainted view. For example, if you take a day to lightly jog as a part of your active recovery, you’re likely to run a bit slower. Don’t let future you judge you by including a little note to indicate you weren’t running to match race pace or set any records. The same is true for interval training, as you might record a faster pace that isn’t realistic for a distance run.
Your Post-Run Thoughts
Finally, you want to record any thoughts you have post-run. Was the weather bad that day? Did you get a good night’s rest? Maybe you just want to note that it was your best-feeling run in weeks and want to carry that momentum with you. Whatever the case, record these notes to add a personal touch to your running log.
Keep the Joy of Running Pure
With all of this in mind, don’t let numbers and statistics change your perception of running. Yes, you want to track these data points, but they don’t mean everything. Running is about getting away from the hustle and bustle of daily life, not being stressed about beating last week’s numbers. Use your running log as a record but don’t let it make running any less fun for you. Whatever reason you chose to pick up running, for weight loss, fitness, stress relief or to get much-needed outside time, keep it in perspective. Your running log will show you the way.