This is one installment of an ongoing series for new runners.
Progress is best measured when you can see it in front of your eyes. While some runners might prefer to mentally take note of workouts or meals and their outcomes, others function best by keeping a physical log of their training progress. Workouts, meals, emotions, goals and races—all of it can be kept in one spiraled diary. For someone brand new to the sport, it is recommended to invest in (or make) your own running log.
The journal can serve as documentation—and a source of accountability—of your efforts. While a coach or mentor is also beneficial for keeping you on schedule (discussed in the next installment), a personal training journal that can travel with you to every race and be by your side at all times is sometimes more helpful than once-a-week meeting with a run bud or phone calls with a coach. Check out some top reasons why writing it down is encouraged.
It provides a visual starting point.
Rather than mentally signing up for a race or promising yourself you will run tomorrow (why not today?), write it down as your very first entry—and tear it out and pin it on your wall. Having a visual starting point rests in your psyche and serves as a front-and-center reminder to get you out the door. Further, it gets the ball rolling for keeping a daily log of activity. Photo: www.shutterstock.com
It's a reminder of what works and what doesn’t.
Having written documentation of a bad workout—physically or mentally—serves as a reminder to pay close attention to what triggered a bad workout and keep track of any patterns that can be reversed. If the workout hurt physically, you are able to review previous notes and see if you ramped up your training too quickly. If it was difficult mentally, take note of what you did that day and the time of day you ran. That could also be a factor. Photo: www.shutterstock.com
It tracks your diet.
Training logs aren't just for the physical activity; they are also good to keep track of your diet. While some people prefer paid diets or pre-written diet plans to lose weight or stay healthy, it's also easy to log your own eating habits and notice the effects throughout the day. If your workout is affected poorly after eating a late lunch or too many afternoon snacks, you have written proof that can be tested after a few repeated episodes. A training log is perfect for drawing parallels between running and eating. Often there are negative factors associated with diet that we as runners overlook simply because we don't think about it. Photo: www.shutterstock.com
Most come with motivational quotes.
Runners dig their motivational words, whether it's hardcore or just something to get you up in the morning. Most running-specific logs come with quotes and inspirational sayings inside the pages. So even if you do not feel like writing that day, read a few of the words and remind yourself that tomorrow will be better. Female runners should check out Lauren Fleshman's and Ro McGettigan's “Believe I Am” journal, which comes chockfull of writing prompts and ideas for journaling. Photo: www.shutterstock.com
It is portable.
For those constantly on the road, the journal can be a simple way to keep yourself in check and on schedule while on the road. Plus it provides a constant in a world that tends to be busy and chaotic! Photo: www.shutterstock.com
It can prepare you for your next training season.
When the race is done and it's time to rest before hitting the streets again, review your journal and make note of any hiccups during your routine. Did running at night not work for you? Were two-a-days too much instead of one long run? Did your pace seem too fast? These are all things you can track and learn from later down the road. After two, three or four cycles of training for races, you will begin to find a rhythm of running and eating that works for you. Photo: www.shutterstock.com
It's proof you did it—for yourself and your coach.
Sometimes written proof is better than word of mouth—people can exaggerate and warp stories (and workout details) depending on their audience. A training journal can be an honest history of your workouts, something your mentor, coach or running bud can review with you and provide feedback if wanted. Photo: www.shutterstock.com