The goal of tracking and monitoring your training data and results is to increase your training effectiveness and efficiency.
Over the past 2 weeks, you’ve hopefully been getting into the habit of entering your training into your journal. With (potentially) just two weeks of entry, you can already begin to see valuable information about your training and daily and weekly habits. As you continue to journal a longer history of training becomes available. Each of us is an individual athlete, and while we can slap on any number of run-of-the-mill training plans, it’s the careful observation of how your body reacts to certain training regimens and then the adjustment and forward changes made to your training plan that allow you to continuously adapt and better as a runner.
For example: if you have an occasional tweak in your left Achilles tendon, and then within a period of two weeks you go from having great range of motion to barely being able to move your foot – there’s likely a long progression to severe Achilles irritation. As you look at your training log for the months before, you might come to the realization that you’ve been experiencing intermittent, increasing Achilles pain for months; and realize this bout of inflammation is not an out-of-the-blue injury, but the culmination of a long period of ignored (or denied!) irritation. I use this example from my own personal injury history, but it’s a common pattern: we might be excited/determined/highly motivated to push through pain or irritation; in general, we as runners practically expect to experience some pain as the body communicates fatigue and growth. However, it is important to analyze our short- and long-term training for items like recurrent or constant pain, changes in energy, or changes in mental motivation. When we see one day of ‘sore Achilles‘ we can shrug it off – but when it becomes weeks of ‘sore Achilles – I took some ibuprofen and iced it‘….then….we need to adjust course training-wise.
This next journaling part has new homework for you: first, look back and make one observation from your training: Can you draw any conclusion(s) about a recent major fitness gain, growth of mental strength, an injury development, or a mental slump? In your training log online, or in your journal, can you find clues that lead to these ‘big’ training conclusions?
Let’s enjoy getting to know ourselves better as athletes! Also, ENJOY the cooler temperatures, and happy first day of autumn.