Why all Runners Should Keep a Training Log

A training log – or a running diary – is a very important part of the runner’s toolkit.  It’s so easy to overlook keeping a log, I get it! Writing down what you do every day can be overwhelming and taxing.  However, the benefits of having a training log far outweighs not keeping one.

3 reasons why runners should keep a training log

I have been keeping a log since I started running way back in 1999. Back then, it was paper and pencil! Even in college, every run I did, I wrote about it – how I felt, how far I went, how long I was out there… Any striders I did, splits I took, strength training I did. Logged it all.

Since coaching runners online, starting in 2011, I have kept detailed notes in my yearly training logs digitally. I have a record of exactly how many miles I’ve run, average paces, yearly distances, and most importantly, how many miles each of my shoes has so I know exactly when to rotate them out. 

In today’s post, you’ll find 3 really good reasons why all runners should be keeping track of their training – paper and pencil, digital (Excel/Google Sheet or app) – and what information you should be keeping.

Training logs help you check in on training you've already done and plan for runs you haven't done yet.
3 reasons why you should be keeping a training log

Seeing the “Big Picture”

When you have a racing season that you’d like to do well in, it can easily be distracting to only focus on your peak race. You might think ahead to the training you have to do in 5-10 weeks and get dismayed or overwhelmed by what you need to accomplish. A training log, can help you map out the training you need to do in order to reach your long term goals.

Whether your race is a 5k or a marathon, being able to see what’s ahead and also check in with what you’ve done in the past is very helpful to calm your nerves and remind yourself of what you are able to accomplish. When you use a training log to plan future runs, you’ll be able to envision yourself accomplishing those runs!

As a coach, helping athletes see what lies ahead is helpful not only because they can plan their schedules accordingly, but so they have a chance to see themselves successfully completing each and every run. Also, they are able to go back and check the progress they’ve made throughout the season. Seeing where you started and where you are now is a big motivator for future success.

A training log allows you to track your training over a long period of time, giving you context and motivation for future running
Training logs help you plan and predict your future running

“I really like the training log! The training tab was great for me to go ahead and plan out my marathon training all the way through October. I can add notes after each run which will be helpful to see where improvement is needed during training. Appreciate the ease of having all that on one page that I can scroll through.” – Tiffany

Consistency

Consistency is key, especially when it comes to trying to run well throughout a season.

Distance runners are at their best when we are consistent with our training. Day after day, week after week, month after month.  The more we can keep the same, the more likely we are going to become better distance runners.

Some variables that fit into this consistency are as follows:

  • The pace of our runs
  • The time of day we run
  • How much mileage we run each week
  • The number of runs per week

If you are able to keep that consistency over a long period of time, you’re bound to find success. If you go back through your training log and see zeros all over the place, you can almost guarantee that your races will not go as planned.

We can keep that consistency if we know what we’ve done in the prior weeks and months of training.  A training log done well is a great tool to use to see consistent (or inconsistent) running.  The more you put into your log, the closer you can mimic future running.

A training log helps you predict what kind of training you need to do, while also helping you see what you've already done.
Training logs are very helpful to ward off injuries

Tracking Progress

It’s hard to know if you’re getting better if you can’t remember what you did a month ago. Thank goodness for apps like Garmin and Strava because I never, ever remember what run I did even a week prior without having to look it up and see where I went. Without keep track on an almost daily basis, I would have no way of remembering what I did and what kind of training I need to do in order to get better.

Your training log allows you to look back and see progress – from where you started to where you currently are. You can look back at last year’s training and see what you did then and compare it to what you’re doing now. But if you don’t write it down or don’t remember, then it’s no good to you!  If you don’t know, or can’t remember, what you did early in your season, how will you know what paces your upcoming workouts or races should be at?  

Here’s the information that I keep in my training log:

  • Detailed notes about how the run went, how I felt, and if I have anything I need to be aware of long term.
  • I write down my run distance, run time [run pace is calculated for me]
  • If I do any cross training, I write about what I did [warm up, workout, cool down]
  • I track my shoe’s mileage so I do not run on worn out shoes that need to be replaced
  • I keep notes on how my races went, their location, race course notes, and race splits.
  • I track my weekly mileage, monthly mileage, distance per run, cross training minutes and my running minutes per month.
  • I report on anything extra I did, like strength training, striders, etc.
A training log can help you identify when you're about to run a PR or when you need a break from running.
Importance of keeping a training log

By tracking your training, you’ll be able to identify where periods of improvement occur.  Seeing week after week of good training motivates us and provides clear reasons why your running is getting better.  When we know that we’ve done our lifting, stretching and long runs, we can surely expect a good race.

If the unfortunate injury pops up, you can see what contributed to the problem.  Knowing where and why an injury occurred can help you not make that same mistake again.

  • Late nights?
  • Higher Mileage?
  • Not stretching?
  • No cross training?
  • Slipping on the strength training?

All of these are potential pitfalls that we fall in from time to time.  Knowing them – and tracking them – will help us ward off potential injury.  When we see these warning signs in our log, we can fix them before they become a bigger problem!


Check out my recent Newsletter Articles:

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Still unsure of why you should keep a training log?  Check out these articles about running and motivation: 

Recap:

Training logs aren’t just something that you ought to do. It’s something that’s completely a part of being a runner. Tracking your mileage helps keep you healthy, happy, and focused on your races. Knowing what you’ve done in training helps dictate what you can do and what you should do in future training runs.

Training logs help you track trends over a period of time, whether that’s the course of a month, a year, or your career. Knowing what you can handle and when you need to back off is all made possible because you’ve seen what mileage you’ve done.


Did you find this article helpful? Let me know by leaving a comment below or join the conversation on Twitter, Instagram or Facebook.


Searching for a running coach? TrainwithMarc has flexible schedules, dynamic plans, and access to a coach who’s worked with every type of runner.

TrainwithMarc will design a training plan based on your needs, running history, and your goals.

Gear I Love

Garmin is my go-to brand of running watches

My Favorite RUNNING gear from Amazon ⬇️
Feetures socks: https://amzn.to/36gNRjU
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Garmin 235: https://amzn.to/2YgXJ9M
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Coach Marc does strides after easy runs to prime his legs

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Marc uses a massage gun to loosen up his legs

Running Recovery Gear I use daily from Amazon ⬇️
Sonic X Percussion Massage Gun: https://amzn.to/2S87qTt
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CEP Compression socks: https://amzn.to/30gZLGY

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