Fall marathon season is upon us, and many runners are in the midst of their heavy training cycles. One must balance mileage, training paces, proper nutrition, adequate rest and recovery, and maintain motivation to succeed. One of the lesser-talked about tools in the runners’ toolbox is the training journal, the utility of which I’ll be discussing this autumn here on this blog and in more depth with my coaching group.
Many runners already track mileage, pace, and location using the variety of device + apps available (or the old Timex standby!). These tools give great metrics and graphical feedback — so why add using a training journal on top of that? and what do you write in a training journal?
Why use a training journal?
First and foremost, a training journal is a way to be personally accountable for your running. The journal provides a forum for you to
1) Track your training progress and provide fodder for training analysis,
2) Increase your self-awareness and understanding of your body & response to training,
3) Provides a source of motivation and confidence, and
4) Allows for more accurate troubleshooting of training.
We’ll tackle all of these ideas in the coming weeks, but first, let’s start with the basics:
What counts as a training journal?
Anything can be a training journal. I’ve used these red, hardbound Standard Daily Diaries for over a decade. Many people are really excited about the Bullet Journal trend right now, many runners use dedicated training journals like the Believe I Am Journal, and some simply take a calendar and scribble entries on each day. There is no way to go wrong, as long as you find a format that you are comfortable with and will use consistently.
Once you’ve chosen your journal, you crack it open, and….stare at a blank page.
What goes into a training journal? The bottom line for each entry includes the distance of your run (or other activity), the duration (how long you were at it), and the style of workout (easy run, long run, track intervals, etc.). Beyond that, you can expand on what you find personally useful to jot down. I generally include the route I ran (roughly), any exciting things I encountered (a bear, a hailstorm, a gorgeous sunrise, etc.), and my general assessment of how I felt during/after the run (energized, exhausted, sore from earlier strength work, etc.).
Let’s spend the next week or so getting into the swing of our training journals: choose a journal, pick out a nice pen, and start writing! We’ll hone in on specifics as we move forward.