Tuesday, July 11, 2006

Running Log: More than just a running record

After running for a few years, some of the people and friends I know do experience some kind of fatigue, more mental than pysical mostly. There might be a feeling of 'going into a rut' or 'the lack of a purpose' where running or training is concerned. These will be times where one can reflect back on how one got started on running, the journey of trials and tribulations, the experiences, the people and friends, the ups and downs, the fun and the laughter.... all will serve as good reference and memories as we continue to be motivated and move forward to greater stuff. I personally find that keeping a running log (even a BLOG in my case) does keep me thinking and motivated.... I find it very useful when I need to look back at some of the runs I did, photos showing the events I've attended, the people I've met, and the fun I've had.

I would like to refer to a nice article in Runners World by Jeff Galloway on the merits of keeing a running log, which can help us record our many events and experiences as we progress along the path of a 'runner for life'.

Log Power
A running journal may be your best training tool
by: Jeff Galloway

Cleaning out the garage some time ago, I chanced upon some musty books of notes and numbers: my old running logs. I read them for hours, reliving the excitement of long-past good days and picking out mistakes from bad days. What began decades ago as a simple act to record the highlights of my runs has remained an enriching part of my running experience. You too can benefit from this easy and fun writing practice.

As I did, most runners start by recording their times and distances, and little else. But over the months, log entries tend to expand to include route descriptions, commentary on training partners, and personal reflections on running and life. Look back a few years, and you'll find unexpected philosophy pouring out of your notes!

You'll also instantly connect with the runner you were 5 or 10 years ago and relive some of your most memorable days. But the greatest benefit of keeping a log is understanding its importance as a training tool. By looking back on what worked and what didn't, you can make sensible running decisions today and avoid mistakes that led to burnout or injury.

Keep a Lasting Record

As you learn to record important little details--how many days it takes you to recover from a long run, for example--you'll see trends in injury risk, improvement, and running enjoyment. By noting soreness in your body's "weak links," you can pinpoint when an injury started, and often find the causes. Learning to "read" early warning signs from logbook entries allows you to make the training adjustments necessary to sidestep trouble now and in the future. Over years of recordings, you'll come to know your strengths and limitations as a runner and as a person.

Turn Visions Into Goals

Whatever your goals may be, a logbook can sustain your inspiration and keep you on track. Logbooks also allow you to dream a bit. They're the perfect place to record "visions" (optimistic but realistic projections of what you think you can attain 6 or 12 months ahead) and to lay out a training plan to transform those visions into accomplishable goals. Along the way, the reviewing of training details will help keep you on target for success.

While slick, specialized running journals are full of information and inspiration, anything from a standard wall calendar to a computer file can serve as a running log. Software products allow you to set up a training program, track your progress, and collect and sort data quickly and efficiently.

If you haven't been in the habit of logging runs, I recommend you start by recording a few bits of information in a notebook. Later you can shift to a spiral-bound journal or computer product.

Nuts and Bolts

Here are a few things you may want to record in your running log--and why:

1. A daily or weekly goal, so that each run has a purpose
2. Time of your run in minutes
3. Distance in miles or kilometers
4. Morning heart rate, to judge general fatigue level
5. Weather conditions
6. Time of day, as it may influence how you feel
7. Terrain (too many hills sometimes lead to injury)
8. Walk breaks, as they affect how you feel and recover
9. Splits from speed sessions, to gauge training progress
10. How you felt (on a scale of 1 to 10)

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