Do you keep a training log?
I used to. For more than ten years, I logged every mile I ran, noting the temperature, course, total mileage, splits, and how I felt before-during-and-after the run. Sometimes these notes were sketchy, jotted down on a calendar on the day of the run. Sometimes these logs were more like journals, recording way more details than anyone (including me) would ever need to know about my training. In either case, though, they served as a record of hard work done. After a big race, I could go back and review how my training contributed to the results of the day. I could use that feedback to tweak my training plan before the next event. This type of feedback loop was instrumental in my continual improvement as a road racer.
Then something happened. I had children, and I quit racing. When I quit racing, I quit keeping a training log. It’s taken me a lot of years to piece together the conclusion that without my training logs, it is much easier for me to slack off—if I’m not to record the workout, it’s easier to skip it entirely.
I’ve written in the blog before about the importance of planning workouts ahead of time as a way to stay accountable. I’m now going back to my old tried and true ways of keeping a workout log as yet another way to keep myself accountable. It’s one thing to plot out my workouts on the Google calendar, but the digital world makes it so easy to delete, rearrange, or otherwise edit my life to have a tidier (if less honest) appearance.
Moreover, as an academically-trained historian, the workout log is such a rich trove of information that sheds light on the various phases of life. I look back at my logs from when I was part of a tight-knit running club, and I fondly remember the runs that we shared on cold, snowy, Boston-winter days. The notes I wrote really bring these memories to life, and I’m transported back to the vibrant, my-whole-life-in-front-of-me, optimistic self. That’s pretty darn impressive for one little square on a calendar.
I’d love to hear from you if you keep a training log—what do you write down? Do you go back and look at your logs? Do you use them strictly for objective feedback, or are they emotional fodder for you as well?
Good health and great happiness to you.