I never kept a running log. In high school and college (which I wholly regret now), the coaches laid the workouts down for us. We ran them. Once I came back to running though, I decided to start keeping track of things. The true importance of a running log was still lost on me at the time, and I kept a log mainly to track my miles and my times. Unfortunately, I kept my original log online at blogsome.com and that has since disappeared, and with it, two years worth of data. Therein lies the benefit of a paper log.
Over time, my log has grown to include more information, while other information is removed. I still do not have it right. It is one of those ‘works in progress’ and likely will be forever.
In reality, there is no correct or incorrect way to keep a log, but for me, it should measure two basic things, subjective and objective measures. Objective measures are concrete a time is a time, a distance a distance, they will not change. For objective measures my log includes time, pace, distance, and the loop. (I also include weather just for chuckles.) You can also include weight as a rapid loss of weight can indicate overtraining. On a subjective level, it is important to include how our legs feel. This is something I really need to improve on, I include how I feel. I throw out a couple lines of “feeling good,” “ankle nagging,” “weather sucks.” These are all well and good, but terms like ‘nagging’ and ‘good’ do not cut it. I really need to be measuring how my legs feel on a numeric scale. Granted the scale may change, but ideally a seven should always be a seven.
The real question, is why are these things important. Yes, it is nice to know and see your improvements by comparing times and paces and it is nice to watch the miles increase and add up, but this is not the true importance of a running log. While some of us may be lucky enough to continue through our running lives with coaches, most of us do not. Your running log is your coach. Whereas a coach can monitor your training and tell you what to do, your training log can tell you were you have been, and where you need to go. It can tell you if you have been overtraining or undertraining.
If you already have a log, go look at it and think about adding or subtracting information that may or may not be necessary or helpful. Think about how you can make your log more informative to you. One of my failings in terms of logging information is my lack of a weekly summary. I used to keep a weekly and monthly summary but that has gotten away from me. It is good to be able to compare any workout this year to last years workout, or this year’s Phase II Week IV to last year’s Phase II Week IV. A good log is an invaluable tool, from the highly competitive elite to the non-competitive weekend 5ker. And by all means if you do not have one, start one.