When I first started running, I kept a very detailed training log. My dad still has my high-school journals and often referred back to them when he coached our local high-school cross-country team to numerous state titles. I was adamant about keeping my log up-to-date. I loved to record my workouts and add up my mileage at the end of the week. I bolstered my confidence before races by seeing how far my workouts had progressed and how much work I had done.
In college I grew tired of keeping a log. I also came to the realization that keeping a log showed that while I had worked harder than everyone else it didn’t necessarily mean I would run faster. It was the beginning of the realization that as in life, so in training: Sometimes less is more. I also realized that my intensely passionate personality easily became obsessive about running. Keeping a detailed training log was adding to my struggle with becoming overly focused on my running goals.
I didn’t return to a training log until I began to journal before the 2010 Boston Marathon. My coach has e-mailed me workouts on spreadsheets since 2005, and I have saved them all, but I rarely recorded my times. Sometimes I wish I could look back on a more detailed training log. Once I am all done with running, I will probably wish I had kept a better log, but right now, not keeping a log works best for me.
Keeping a detailed training log and recording my thoughts in a daily journal leading up to the 2010 Boston Marathon has been life changing. Writing is relaxing and deeply therapeutic, so this has been a powerfully positive tool in my life.
The best log is one that you enjoy and that is easy to use. There are many logs to choose from today, including online logs, spreadsheets, and even smartphone applications. When I was keeping my journal, I just opened up a Word document and started writing. If you are philosophical like me, perhaps writing in a journal will be better than plugging raw data into a traditional training log. Experiment and find what works for you. I do recommend writing in some way to remind yourself on a daily basis of your goals.
Watch as Ryan explains about his “unconventional” coach to CNN. CNN Interview with Ryan Hall, “God is My Coach”
Excerpted from Running with Joy:
I have always been a dreamer. My siblings and I all played some kind of sport growing up. My dad pitched for Pepperdine University and was drafted by the Baltimore Orioles. As a kid, I wanted to follow in his footsteps—my dream was to be a pitcher in the major leagues, to one day stand out on the mound at Fenway Park—but as a five-foot tall middle schooler who barely tipped the scale into the triple digits, I spent most of my time sitting on the bench in basketball and football. I practiced pitching for hours in my backyard, usually throwing a tennis ball against the side of our house, inadvertently crushing all our Christmas lights in the process. Despite my work ethic, I struggled to get a fastball past my bigger and stronger peers.
In those days, my only athletic success seemed to be running the mile in PE. I broke the school record, running a 5:32 as an eighth grader, but I didn’t enjoy it. My dad was a triathlete and solid marathoner (around three hours), and he could see my God-given ability before I could. In fact, he told me I could be a world-class runner if I wanted. But I really wasn’t interested in any sport that didn’t have a ball—that is, until a normal car ride to a basketball game turned visionary.
I was 13, starting out the window of a Suburban full of rowdy, we just-got-out-of-school-early teammates. But I wasn’t feeling it. I was gazing out the window and daydreaming when I was suddenly overwhelmed with a crazy urge to run around the lake. The feeling is hard to describe—it was a vision from God, an unveiling, a seed He planted in me. In a moment, I could hardly wait to do something I would previously never have enjoyed. The desire was intense. (I experienced a similar moment years later when I first seriously considered moving up from the track to the marathon.)
The Saturday morning after that ride in the Suburban, I laced up my basketball shoes and headed out the door with my dad (who was curiously supportive of my bizarre idea) for what would prove to be a painful and slow 15-mile run around the lake. My hometown, Big Bear Lake, California, offers many cool things to do—skiing and snowboarding, skateboarding, fishing, baseball, basketball, football—but running was not among them. We had two dirt tracks (flooded with water most of the year) and no high-school track or cross-country teams. In those days, runners were seldom seen. I embarked on a journey that none of my peers would understand.
The run was hard—really hard. We had to make numerous stops, and by the time I finally walked through our front door and collapsed on the couch, morning had become afternoon. My calves ached like never before, my lungs burned from the thin air (we were running at 7000 feet), and I winced in pain with every step. My unorthodox shoe choice only made matters worse. I would never have imagined that such a painful first run would be the beginning of a running career. However, as I lay on the couch, my grumbling stomach begging for food, God planted two more seeds in me. One was that I had been given a gift to run with the best runners in the world. The other was that I could use that gift to help others.
That epiphany launched my running journey.
After placing 2nd at Saturday’s Olympic Marathon Trials in Houston, Tx, with a 2:09:30 time, Ryan Hall qualified to be part of the U.S.
team competing the London 2012 Olympic Games. Congratulations Ryan!!
You can read more about Saturday’s race here.
This morning, while enjoying my breakfast, I was reading Luke and came across the passage telling the story of the disciples of Jesus getting in an argument about which one of them is the greatest. In response to their argument Jesus brings a child before them and tells them that the one who is least among them is great. I have found all throughout Jesus’ teachings our typical view of what greatness is completely flipped on what we typically think of as great. Jesus, in my opinion the greatest man to ever live, tells us to be great we must become a servant of all. Far from our typically definition of greatness.
As I was reading this morning I was thinking how this passage would be translated in a RV (Runners Version…what a cool read that would be). I know when I think of the greatest runners of all-time my thoughts immediately go to guys like Bernard Lagat, Haile Gebrselassie, Hicham El Guerrouj and others. But who would Jesus tell me is the greatest? Who would He pull in front of me and tell me I needed to be like in order to be the “greatest runner of all-time?”
I feel like I would be surprised by who Jesus would sit in front of me. I think I probably wouldn’t have read their name in Runners World or watched them win an Olympic medal on television. I think He might put an ultra runner in front of me who maybe has never run a race in his/her life but soaks in every joy-filled step of their day to day running. I have a feeling that He would pull someone out of the Chicago Marathon who trained very hard for months, transforming their out-of-shape body into one that can cover 26.2 miles even if it takes them 4, 5 or 6 hours to cross the finish line. Perhaps he would put one of the many runners who run for a cause or in memory of a lost one. Maybe He would put that person that only runs because they want to spend meaningful time with friends and family out on the road. Maybe he would put Bart Yasso in front of me who travels over the world to encourage runners often going out on the course where no other spectators are just to shout some encouragement there way. Whoever Jesus would put in front of me I am confident of this: that it would be the heart of that runner that God see’s as great and the ability they have to run with a heart full of love for God, self, and others, not the speed of their legs.
“He does not delight in the strength of the horse; He does not take pleasure in the legs of a man. The Lord favors those who fear Him, Those who wait for His lovingkindness.” Psalm 147:10-11