It may not be a sexy topic, but for any runner intent on improvement, injury prevention, or effective training of any kind, training logs are the way to go. One minute or less of jotting down each day's run can help prevent injuries, personalize training programs, track experiments, provide solace in tough times and satisfaction at other times.
So how do you best make use of training logs?
First, I recommend having some system where you can write down notes on runs, whether it is in an exercise or notetaking app, computer program, or physical training log. I myself use a physical training log, occasionally in conjunction with Garmin's tracking software.
Make sure you know the distance or time you ran. Make a note of how it felt and be sure to keep it consistent. I use felt great, good, ok, and bad. Each one means something unique to me. For example, 'felt great' is a run that had an unusually wonderful peak experience or enjoyment associated with it. 'Felt good' is the default, 'ok means it was lackluster but still fine, and 'bad' is reserved for runs where I was unable to complete the run or workout for some reason. Feel free to use these or to come up with your own system.
Next, make a note of the course ran and pace kept (can be in minutes/mile or your own categories of felt pace). If it was a workout with specific components, note down what it was and any relevant information. If there were any focuses during the run, whether that was a certain pace/felt effort or focus on specific running technique or form, be sure to write that down.
Last but not least, write down anything unusual about how your body felt before, during, or after the run. Running logs are a great way to track recovery and injuries. Maybe you still felt tired from the previous day, or maybe a specific body part bothered you in a certain way. Or maybe you felt completely recovered from a workout or injury after a period of dealing with that issue. Make a note of it!.
Other potential things you could make a note of if you want: nutrition, hydration, weather, cross training, fun nights out, sleep, mood, stress levels, realizations while running, and no doubt many other things too.
So, to recap:
All this can be jotted down in short notes that may add up to several short sentences. There's no need to spend more than a minute on this.
Be sure to note:
Over time, you will be see patterns of what works best for you as a runner. You will see what pattern of running throughout the week works best for you- from overall mileage to what workouts work best and when during a week or month. You will know what causes injuries and how to work with them, prevent them, and what the recovery time for them are for you specifically. You will also start seeing what you did for those runs that were truly outstanding, and can begin to replicate as a regular experience.
So have a training log! You won't regret it.
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