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.