In running, or any other sport for that matter, a training diary can be an athlete’s best friend. Real friends don’t fool you; they don’t lie; and they encourage you to do the best you can. A training diary will do that and more for a runner. Provided of course that you religiously record important information about each run, your diary will allow you to track your progress (look Ma I can now run a 10k with ease!), motivate you to reach your goal, help you determine the cause of an injury, fatigue, or explain how in the hell you ran so fast on a particular training day.
What information do you put into your training diary? Below is a basic list I’ve made, but feel free to add (like “Who did I date the night before I broke my PR?”) or omit data as you wish:
- Date and Day
- Comments (e.g., weather, feelings—physical and emotional, new accesories used, etc.)
- Companions, if any
- Weight before the run
- Diet (You may opt to have a separate Food Diary, so you may simply note if you’ve been “Good” or “Bad”)
- Goals (i.e., lose 5 lbs., run a full marathon by December, zip up those tight jeans so I don’t have to wear my shirt untucked all the time)
- Training Program
- Races joined and your time
Now, what diary do you use? There are available books in the market that are designed as training diaries for runners. I saw this NYRR Road Runners Running & Fitness Log in A Different Bookstore, Bonifacio High Street last month. I was so tempted to buy it, but as you very well know, I am a frugal shopper so I decided otherwise.
- New York Road Runners Running & Fitness Log 2007 by New York Road Runners (Available at A Different Bookstore and Amazon) -
There are a host of other running diaries available in Amazon, but I am unsure of their availability locally. You may ask your favorite bookstore to bring them in for you or for a kind soul to carry them home from the U.S. For now, just surf and drool…
- LEFT: The Runner’s Training Diary: For Fitness Runners and Competitive Racers by Bob and Shelly-Lyn Florence Glover, Amazon. RIGHT: The Running Log by April Powers, Amazon -
If you’re a techie, my friend E-Rod recommends breakingthetape.com, an online diary for runners and other athletes. Google other online or PC/mac-based applications and you’ll discover several programs that can go beyond the role of a logbook. Some will provide you with high-tech looking charts and graphs that you’ll run the risk of turning into a analytical geek instead of an athletic runner.
And, still there are those lucky people who use the programs that came along with their Nike+, Polar, Garmin and any other HRM or sports accessory that will practically do everything for you. It won’t be long till I shall become one of them. It won’t be long. It won’t be long. It won’t be long. Hmmm…do you think chanting that over and over will help me get my Polar sooner?
As for my own training diary, the creative and resourceful side of me popped up once again to save the day. I got myself a simple orange notebook (King Jim because it has tiny lines at the top and bottom to guide alignment of columns) and plotted my way through a personalized logbook.
During the early days of my running, when I was just working my way up to running a full 30 minutes through the RW Beginners’ Program, this is how my journal looked:
In hindsight, the layout is simply confusing and crowded. Just looking at the five pages I have of that layout gets me more exhausted than all the runs I recorded on them.
So, I recently changed the layout into this simple grid pattern which I tap myself on the back for everytime I leaf through it. (No, I am not self-absorbed, I just like boosting my own confidence every now and then.) Just one look and I can determine how my training program is going and where adjustments should be made.
At this instant, I find it glaringly obvious—and perhaps you do too—that I should cross-train on Tuesdays and Thursdays…if only to make use of the wasted paper space on the right.