By Malindi Elmore
I think that one of the most motivating pieces of equipment a runner can own is a training log. I have been keeping some version of a logbook for at least 20 years and they are all neatly stacked on my bookcase in my office. Sometimes when I need a trip down memory lane I pull them out to reminisce. Thousands of workouts, races, runs, weight sessions and pieces of my heart are stored in the pages of my training logs; often with insightful comments which allow me to re-live the moments long after my memory has faded. If it were not for the editorials alongside my training logbook how would I remember how brutally gut-wrenching and rewarding some of my training sessions and races truly were?
Aside from helping to re-live great workouts and races in excruciating detail, a training log serves a number of purposes for me, and as such is something that I recommend every runner include as part of their “training”.
Coaching feedback: Your training should not be stagnant and should be periodized throughout the year as well as change year-to-year as you become a more experienced and mature athlete. For athletes starting with a new coach, a training log is an especially great resource to help know where you are coming from and so they can create an appropriate plan. It is also helpful for yourself to analyze your training so you can keep track of your mileage increases, training load changes, and what works best for you for taper and peak weeks.
Hindsight is 20/20: I have found that injuries often appear about 6 weeks after I have done something “different”. By using my training log I can often identify a reason for the injury – perhaps a significant increase in mileage, a new plyometric program or a change in shoes that offer clues into the cause or remedy.
Confidence Builder: Before an important race, I will often “read” my logbook as a way to re-affirm how much hard work I have done in preparation for my race.
Motivator: I find writing in my logbook to be the “kick in the pants” I need some days to get out the door. Unless I have a good reason for not training (illness, injury, extenuating circumstance) I feel guilty for leaving a page blank. Even more so, I actually look forward to adding my session to the day and seeing all the hard work pile up!
There are so many great resources to log your training and they largely depend on your personal preference. I usually keep a digital and hard copy as they both offer advantages and it is nice to have a back up. I also like to keep a private “hard” copy for my personal use and a digital copy to share with others/coaches.
Run SMART coaches use the VDOT online training calendar for its clients that also serves as training log. If you are looking for a fun, inspiring training book, Lauren Fleshman and Rosin McGettigan-Dumas created a beautiful training journal “Believe I am” that packed with information, photos and inspiration. Whatever your preference, I urge you to find something that works and roll with it!
Malindi Elmore is a Run SMART Project private coach. As an athlete she competed in the 2004 Olympic Games in the 1500m. She’s a 6-time National Champion and Stanford record-holder in the 800m and 1500m. To customize her 1500/mile training plan go here. To work with Malindi privately sign up here.