Did you run on January 14, 2012 or January 14, 2011 or even January 14, 2010? If you did how was the run? How does your running today compare with when you ran a year ago? Where has your running improved? what areas of your running should you be addressing?
If you kept a journal of your runs you would know the answers to those questions and more. I started keeping a run journal by accident as I downloaded the MapMyRun app for my phone and recorded my 1st run with it on April 26, 2012. The app recorded my time, distance average pace and it had an area for comments that I filled in about my run. I have been using the app since and now they have a daily journal function where I record information on my runs like how I feel, my weight, heart rate etc.. Since I’m diabetic I was keeping a food journal before I began running and I merged the two of them together. I am now able to see how foods affect my running performance.
Keeping a journal of my runs have allowed me to find what works best and what doesn’t work at all. I have learned through my journals how food affect my runs or how not eating or eating before a run affect my runs. My journal taught me that I can run 3-4 miles without eating breakfast and I can run my race pace. However, If I’m running a 10K or longer I need breakfast. I used entries in my journal to test out my refueling and hydration strategies. Like I know when the temperature is below 50 degrees I can run 3 miles without hydration and a maximum of 5 miles if necessary without hydration. Temperatures above 60 degrees I should hydrate every 2 miles at least.
Keeping a journal has not been that difficult or time-consuming and the benefits out weigh the few minutes I spend entering in this important information. It’s good to look back at my earlier runs or my difficult runs to see how I managed and what I learned from them that I apply to current runs. I really saw the value of keeping a run journal from Tony Reed, Co-Founder & Executive Director of the National Black Marathoners Association (NBMA) who is the 1st African-American to run a marathon on all 7 continents among other racing accomplishments. Tony has been keeping a run journal since 1979 and has also logged other physical-related events, such as physical exams, flu shots, x-rays, etc. Over the years Tony has been able to track trends not only in his running but in his health as well. The information he keeps in his journals over the decades keeps him at peak physical condition.
How to get started in keeping a run journal:
Keeping a run journal begins with you making a commitment to journal your runs. How you decide to keep your journal is up to you. I prefer typing to writing so an online journal works for me. If you prefer writing then buy a notebook or you can buy specifically designed for running. You can find those at stores that sell calendars.
It’s important to record the days you run, the mileage, your pace and the type of run (long run, tempo run etc.) the time of day and weather. If you have a medical condition you should record how running affects your condition.
Other items you should record:
- Your mood
- Hours of sleep
Using a journal is a valuable tool to ensure that you get the most from running and run training. Remember that quote about history: “Those who do not remember the past are condemned to repeat it.” George Santayana. Journal and learn from your past so you can improve your future.