A training log is a runner’s most important tool. Not only does it provide motivation, but it can be used to detect training trends, provide inspiration, and also keep runners grounded. I have been logging for close to 13 years now, and my running logs are among my most prized possessions. However, most runners don’t use their logs to the best of their abilities. Listed below are tips for maximizing the potential of your training journal.
At the end of the week, look over your training and identify areas where you excelled and areas in which you can improve. Set an intention for the upcoming week and write it down. Perhaps you could be better about foam rolling after a run, or going to bed 15 minutes earlier. Whatever it is, right it down prominently so that you see this intention every time you log an entry.
As runners, we tend to be perfectionists. Practicing gratitude is especially important when you are coming back from an illness or injury. Instead of logging, “slow run, still have a long way to go,” practice gratitude by reframing the entry: “grateful that I’m back running; a slow run is better than no run.” Simply writing down a positive message will help you feel more optimistic.
More than Just Mileage
Tracking as much data as possible in your training log will help tremendously if you ever reach a plateau or experience a series of injuries.
Besides logging how much you sleep each night, consider how rested you feel. Inability to sleep and feeling fatigued is one sign of overtraining or a nutrient deficiency.
One of the first signs of overtraining syndrome is increased heart rate. If your heart rate is more than 5% above normal for 3 – 4 days, it is time to take a rest day.
Athletes who know their sweat rate are more likely to recover better after hard training sessions, thanks to improved hydration practices. Keep track of your sweat rate (as well as the weather conditions) so that you always know how to prepare for race day.
Do you do incorporate other activities into your day, such as walking the dog, yoga, cross training, or playing at the park with your children? Include these activities in your log so that you have a better idea of the big picture.
Don’t forget to include recovery. If you foam rolled or stretched, include it in your activity log so that you can tangibly track the benefits!
Look for Trends
When you have a particularly good run, use your log to look for trends and determine how to reproduce those effects. Did you get extra sleep the night before, or have you increased strength training? Your running log can help you unlock secrets you may otherwise miss.
Back it Up
If your training log is kept online or on your computer, don’t forget regularly to back it up in a secondary location!
Written by Anna Weber
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