I have kept a running journal for 36 years and have benefitted immensely from this practice. Keeping a journal tracks your personal running history that can serve as a useful reference in the future. I find that keeping a journal keeps me motivated. I like to see my progress documented. I have also avoided injuries when I’ve scaled my running back when necessary. I undoubtedly have greater insight into my strengths and weaknesses as a runner.
Here is an example of an entry from my journal:
April 13, 2012
Mileage 12 miles
Total Running Time: 1:29:15
Average Pace: 7:26
Time of Day: 7:00 a.m.
Details: Ran the Keith Hill loop in Grafton. My morning HR (heart rate) was 48 so right at my normal level. This was a progressive run that included 2 miles @ 8:00 minute pace to warm-up. Miles 3-5 were at 7:30 pace. Miles 6-8 were at 7:15 pace. Miles 9-11 were at 7:00 pace. Last mile was a cool-down @ 8:00 pace followed by 5 x 100 meter strides. Focused on maintaining efficient running form (i.e., landing with my feet beneath my center of gravity and on my midfoot, stride rate was 180 SPM).
The weather was fantastic and I felt extremely strong. My hip flexor seems to be improving but tomorrow will be a better test considering the pace I ran on this extremely hilly course. My average HR was 155 and my max HR was 172. Wore the Asics Gel Cumulus. Morning weight was 162. Post-run meal within 30 minutes included a protein shake and a toasted bagel with peanut butter. Stretched thoroughly.
My daily entry takes less than 5 minutes. It’s important to be honest and accurate with each entry. If I have a difficult run I include every detail and attempt to understand why. An elevated resting heart rate in the morning is a great indicator of how well I am handling the rigors of training. If I have an elevated RHR in the morning I’m sure to scale back the intensity and the distance of my run. Wearing a heart rate monitor allows me to closely monitor and adjust my effort.
I have enjoyed 36 years of running because I listen to the signs my body is providing and adjust my training accordingly. I haven’t always avoided injuries but I have kept them to a minimum. Several recent injuries lingered as a result of not listening to the signs my body provided. I simply needed to pay closer attention to my running journal because all the indicators of a potential injury were there.
I hope that you also document the details of your runs so that you can get maximum benefit from your training.