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By the numbers

The stories I’ve heard about this subject continue to amaze me.

What seems like second nature to most runners doesn’t get a second thought from some.

Running is a sport that involves the freedom of hitting the roads and trails, but also the analytical fun that baseball fans enjoy.



I’m talking about numbers and statistics.

Data. Information. Pace per mile. Average lap/interval time. Margin of victory. Fastest time on a particular course.




Where does all this information come from?

Where do you go when you’ve run an exceptional race or workout to see what led up to that point?

If you end up with an injury, where can you look to see what might have caused it? Was it too much mileage? Too many fast runs? Too many races in too short a time span?

Without written records, you’re just guessing.

And if you’re like most runners, and put a lot of time and effort into your sport, why not benefit as much as you can from your hard work?

Keep a journal!

The only negative is the time it takes to write your workouts and races down.

But it doesn’t have to take a lot of time, and it’s fun!

Besides, there are so many positive reasons to keep track of your running.

Sometimes you can hit a difficult stretch in your training/racing, and looking back can give clues as to what might be done differently.

Keeping a journal provides great motivation in a number of ways.

Running days are less likely to be missed.

You are more likely to meet a weekly or monthly mileage/training goal if you are tracking your progress.

Whether you are a competitive racer, or just running or walking to stay in shape, having goals, a training plan, and then a journal to track your progress are all essentials.

Reading back over some of your best races in your journals can be incredibly inspiring and affirming.

Satisfaction can come from a 5K tempo run on the track, hitting the split button on your watch each lap, and discovering when you write the numbers down in your journal that every lap was faster than the one before. Now that’s a fun discovery!

And you’d never know if you didn’t keep track.

(Did I ever mention I love using the word track?)

Memories aren’t necessarily perfect, so it helps to have it down in black and white (or whatever color you prefer to use!). My brother had always said that I beat him at the mile all the time my senior year in high school.

For fun, I dug out my journals from 30 years ago and found out he beat me 33% of our mile races that year. You can bet he enjoyed hearing that!

You don’t have to spend a lot of money on a journal. You can write on paper and put it in a binder, have a hardbound blank book, spiral notebook, the training log provided for free by Runners World when you subscribe, The Ultimate Runner’s Journal by Sacramento world class ultra runner Rich Hanna, or one of a number of computerized journals.

Since it’s your journal, you can customize it to your tastes. Keep track of whatever you want, such as miles run, pace per mile (or actual times per lap if run on the track), weather/temperature, how you were feeling, workout goal, how injuries are faring, heart rate (if you use a monitor), whether it was your fastest time on a special course you run regularly (or 5th fastest!), etc.

Other valuable facts that can be kept in your training journal are sleep amounts and resting heart rate in the morning (when you have time to take it before you get your motor revved).

You will find how sleep, or lack of it, will affect your running/racing.

Resting heart rate can be used to tell when you are overtired or possibly coming down with a bug (it goes up from the normal range). And when you get in better cardiovascular shape, your resting heart rate will go down as your system functions more efficiently. If your resting heart rate jumps up unusually, it’s a sign to take it easy that day and not push yourself. Pay attention to your body, which your journal will help you do.

Find what information in your journal helps you and use it. You’ll discover the many benefits, and leave your footprints in the sand, or in print, to look back on later, and maybe even share with your children and grandchildren.

Keeping a journal will even give you more “events” to celebrate. Like your 5,000th mile. Or 30,000th! Or a personal best race time.

You won’t regret keeping a journal. In fact, you’ll probably love it.

Just do it!

Steve Bond

sbond@ICv2.com


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