The Art of Logging

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.

My Log

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8 thoughts on “The Art of Logging

  1. This is a great post. I sit here and read and feel incredibly lucky that my situation is such that I am able to have a “coach” if you will. he writes the workouts..I do them. We talk. It has saved me from much injury though having a coach can’t save one from overtraining if one is stubborn enough. I still keep a log http://30weeks.wordpress.com because sometimes the way we work a little nagging something becomes chronic and it’s so important to look back and say Oh wow, that actually was first mentioned 6 weeks ago… as opposed to…Oh this is new… And while my coach is great…he’s human and doesn’t keep track of stuff as well as one might think, given the way he sometimes sits on my training…

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    • Definitely easy to ignore those chronic injuries or fool ourselves into thinking they haven’t been there that long, then go back check the log and realize it’s been going on for a couple of months and something really needs help.

      Logs can help alert you to overtraining, but we are a stubborn bunch. Definitely difficult to learn to temper workouts and plans, at least for me. Usually my wife lets me know I’m doing too much. Ha.

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  2. I’m the worse at keeping a log.
    At the end of every week I’m supposed to send my coach a summary of the week, when it comes to writing down the times of the intervals I usually estimate the time if I can’t find it on my watch. Sometimes I make a mess between rest time and active time. Gotta teach my dog how to use a stop watch and write.

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  3. I keep a log on google drive. I like it because I share it with other ladies that I train with. There is a woman at my local running club who is substantially more experienced and acts like a coach for me. I am able to share the document with her, which has been very helpful. In terms of running, I am still fairly new, only just entering long distance running within the last year. Sometimes for a pick me up, I like to look back over the log and see how far I have come.

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  4. I do keep a log although its a bit random. It tends to read like a diary, how I felt, what I thought about, the route I took. I also include the time of day that I ran (since I’m convinced my running is better later in the day) and what I’ve been eating, how long before the run I ate. As of yet I’m not doing anything constructive with this information, but it helps me understand my performance a little better 🙂

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    • That’s all it needs to do to help. I used to run better at night, though I think I’m becoming more of a morning/afternoon guy. Don’t think I’ll ever be an early morning jogger. Takes me a long time to get warmed up…

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  5. Pingback: Staying Ahead of the Curve | Running, Life and Between

  6. I like being able to look back at how my training compares to past renditions of myself. Was that my fastest H.M. in training? Ah, I ran one faster in July 2012, but the course was easier. But I haven’t added a subjective element. May do so now. Thanks for the thought 🙂

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