Marathon Blog

Why Keeping a Training Log is Key to Running Success


In a previous blog, I wrote about consistency being the key to running success. A tool that can help with consistency, as well as performance and injury prevention, is the training log. Here’s what you need to know to get started:

Choose a logging tool. Depending on how technology-inclined you are, there are a few options for runner training logs. If you like old-school paper journals, there are many options available, including “The Complete Runners Day-by-Day Log”, one of the classic training logs that has been available for more than 30 years. If you prefer a high-tech approach, there are many stand-alone apps for your phone (such as Running Log Free) that will do the job. If you have a GPS tracking device (Fitbit, Garmin, etc.) use one of the integrated apps, such as Map-my-Run or Runtastic.

Know what to log. In addition to logging your distance, pace, terrain (hills, running surface) and weather conditions, you should also log some more qualitative information, such as how you felt and what, if any, aches and pains you might have experienced. It is also useful to log your resting heart rate, measured right after you wake up. The resting heart rate should be fairly consistent. If it drifts upward and stays there for several days/weeks, that is often a sign of overtraining.

Understanding how to use log information

  • Consistency: One of the primary uses for the log is to hold yourself accountable for staying consistent with your training plan. It will be obvious when you miss a run (or two) so that you can more easily get back on track in a gradual way, especially if you miss a week or two of running.
  • Performance: If you are trying to achieve a personal record in your next race, you are probably performing runs that are intended to achieve certain time goals. The log will help you determine how close you are to your goal, so that you can make adjustments, if necessary. The resting heart rate will help you determine if you are overtraining, so that you will know whether you need to push harder or to back off to improve your performance.
  • Injury prevention: By logging any aches and pains, you will be better equipped to notice trends that may indicate the early stages of injury. If you are feeling discomfort in the same spot over a few consecutive runs, you might be developing an injury. If you catch it early, you can respond accordingly by backing off your training and/or adding appropriate strength training, stretching or foam rolling to try to head off the injury.

Creating and maintaining a training log can be very helpful on your running journey. Interested in more tips like these? Join us at RunSMART!

Laurie Lasseter
ACE Certified Personal Trainer
RRCA Certified Running Coach
Edward-Elmhurst Health & Fitness