Keeping a running journal is one of the best ways to know where you’re going with your training and to see where you’ve been. It can help you track your progress, avoid past pitfalls and even inspire you to new accomplishments. A journal can be as simple as a few dashed notes of the distance and time you ran each day, or more detailed with lengthier entries about your route, the way you feel, and the stuff you thought about on the run. You can keep it as a written journal, a calendar, or even log it online; whichever you feel is the easiest for you. I typically keep a small notebook in my running bag or I’ve progressed to documenting what I can with my Nike+ application on my smartphone or using Dailymile. Having something like Dailymile can be a great way to interact with other runners and get encouragement from them during your trainings and be inspired by what others are doing.
Some things that I typically put in my journal:
1) Note when you buy shoes and keep track of the mileage on those shoes, typically you shouldn’t run more than 300-500 miles depending on the model. The mid sole will start to break down and you’ll start to notice your knees or hip bothering you. When you are about 200 miles into your shoes it’s best to go buy another pair to start breaking them in. Some shoes will allow you more mileage (Newtons/Vibrams) but then it also depends on the way in which you run. I’ll post about shoes in another segment.
2) Course: note where you run, what kind of surface it was, what you liked about it, if it was difficult, you had to leap over puddles etc- this can also serve as beneficial if an injury arises.
3) The weather, I know it sounds odd but sometimes the weather can really affect your running: winter weather is tough on a lot of people, so is high pollen or high humidity seasons.
4) What you ate before and after your run, how it made you feel during your run. This will help you figure out what your dietary needs are to fuel you during your run, what doesn’t sit well with your stomach, what makes you drag, what really helps you recuperate post workout.
5) How do you feel afterwards, do you still have energy or are you dragging (if so look at what you ate). Are you sore? if so where, this will help you diagnose an injury ahead of time or it could have been the trail surface you were running on that bothered you.
6) Any major accomplishment for that day, did you just run for a mile straight without walking? Write that down and put a star on it, it’s great to keep track of your new accomplishments. Did you reach a new distance, got faster for longer period of time, anything that you find made you smile for that day.
7) Any future goals you have for yourself: may it be to run half of the time for a workout and walk the rest, make it 2 laps around the track before you have to walk. Make it up that really big hill on your running route, not to get lost on the trail, anything you want to work towards that you can then see as an accomplishment.
8) Definitely track your mileage for each workout, or at least the time you were doing that cardio, this becomes very important as you start to increase your weekly mileage and train for further distances.
9) Note your cross training days, they can be very important to look back on, especially if they negatively impact your workout-or maybe they will positively impact your workout.
10) Note if your clothing bothered you at all, so you know not to wear it again.
These are just a few of the things you can mention, but it’s your journal so ultimately you can write whatever you want in it!
Happy Writing & Running,