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Beginner Runner

Run, Reflect, Repeat: The Art of Keeping a Running Journal

9 Mins read

Are you ready to unlock the power of a running journal? If you’ve been contemplating starting one but aren’t sure where to begin, fear not! You’ve stumbled upon the perfect guide to get you started on this transformative journey.

Now, I have a confession to make. For years, I, too, succumbed to the temptation of laziness and neglected the idea of keeping a running journal. But oh, how I wish I had embraced it sooner! Once I finally took the plunge and started documenting my runs, everything changed. My training routine underwent a remarkable evolution, and I became a more mindful and focused runner.

Listen closely, my friend, for I firmly believe that a running diary should never be considered optional. It’s not just a mere accessory or a trendy fitness gimmick. No, it’s an invaluable tool that can propel you forward on your running journey and elevate your status as a fitness enthusiast.

Now, here’s the exciting part: keeping a running diary is far from rocket science. You don’t need a degree in advanced mathematics or a stack of complicated spreadsheets. In fact, once you learn the simple and effective way to maintain a journal, you’ll wonder why you didn’t start sooner.

So, in today’s post, I’m here to spill the beans on how to keep a workout journal the right way. Get ready to uncover the secrets, tips, and tricks that will empower you to track your progress, set new goals, and revel in the satisfaction of your achievements.

Feeling ready? Let’s get started.

Why & How To Keep a Running Journal 

Imagine having a personal time capsule that holds the secrets to your running journey—your victories, setbacks, and everything in between. That’s exactly what a running log, journal, or diary offers you. It’s a treasure trove of insights where you can chronicle your runs, races, injuries, diet, and all things training-related. Think of it as your written companion, capturing your observations, suggestions, experiences, and the rollercoaster of events that unfold along the way.

If you haven’t already embraced the power of a training log, let me give you five compelling reasons why today is the perfect day to start:

Know Your Goals

Your running journal becomes a haven for your aspirations, dreams, and running goals.

By documenting them, you’ll keep your targets within reach. More importantly, it’s a constant reminder to strike the right balance in your training.

With your log, you’ll be able to track your progress and ensure that you’re gradually and safely increasing your mileage, avoiding the pitfalls of overexertion or stagnation. It’s finding that sweet spot where you challenge yourself without putting yourself at risk.

Monitor Your Progress

Your training log becomes your faithful companion, accompanying you on every step of your running program. It’s your ultimate reference point, allowing you to look back and marvel at the progress you’ve made.

Flip through the pages and witness your journey unfold, from those first stumbling steps to crossing finish lines with newfound strength and confidence. It’s a tangible reminder of your growth as a runner, giving you the motivation to push further.

Monitor Injuries

In the realm of running, injuries can be an unwelcome companion. But fear not, for your running journal can be your trusty detective. By diligently recording any aches, pains, or discomfort, you’ll become a master of self-diagnosis.

Your log holds the clues to pinpoint the onset of an injury, helping you identify potential causes and prevent more serious repercussions. After all, overuse injuries don’t happen overnight—they come with warning signs. With your journal as your guide, you’ll be equipped to listen to your body’s signals and make necessary adjustments.

Boost Your Performance

We all have those moments when motivation wanes, when the road seems longer and the finish line feels distant. But your running log holds a secret weapon: it’s a testament to your resilience and determination.

During those challenging times, flip through its pages and let the memories of past triumphs fuel your fire. Relive the races, the personal bests, and the moments when you overcame obstacles. It’s a wellspring of inspiration that reminds you of your true potential.

Hold You Accountable

Your running journal is not just a collection of individual entries—it’s a tapestry of patterns and insights waiting to be discovered.

By examining your entries over time, you may uncover hidden connections between your training, nutrition, sleep, and overall performance. It’s an opportunity to fine-tune your routines, adjust your strategies, and uncover the winning formula tailored specifically to you.

Less Confusion

In the realm of training, clarity is key. A good workout journal eliminates the guesswork and ensures that every step you take has purpose and intention. Say goodbye to haphazard workouts and hello to a meticulously crafted plan.

With your journal as your compass, you’ll navigate the vast sea of training options with confidence. It becomes a blueprint for success, guiding you towards your running goals.

Keep Track

Goals are the fuel that propels us forward. Your workout diary becomes a sacred space where you can record and track your fitness aspirations. From aiming to complete a 10K in under an hour to setting a specific number of intervals to conquer, your goals take shape on its pages. But it doesn’t stop there.

The true magic lies in periodically revisiting your entries, witnessing the transformation and celebrating your progress. It’s a tangible reminder of your determination and a testament to your accomplishments.

Monitor Injuries

The path of a runner isn’t always smooth, and sometimes obstacles appear along the way. But fear not, for your workout journal is equipped with a superpower—it helps you become an injury detective.

By diligently noting any aches and pains, you become attuned to your body’s signals. It’s like having a secret code that allows you to pinpoint the onset of an injury, identify its causes, and prevent its serious ramifications. Your journal becomes the guardian of your well-being, empowering you to make adjustments and protect yourself from unnecessary setbacks.

Helps you Find weaknesses

We all have our Achilles’ heel, those areas where improvement is needed. But fear not, for your workout journal holds the key to unlocking your full potential. It becomes your trusted companion on the quest to conquer your weaknesses.

By analyzing your entries, patterns emerge, revealing the areas that require extra attention. Maybe you need to dedicate more time to long runs to boost your endurance, or perhaps it’s time to power up with interval sprints to enhance your speed. With your journal as your guide, you can design a strategic plan to chip away at those weaknesses and emerge stronger than ever.

Choosing The Format Of A Running Journal

Now that we’re on the same page about the awesomeness of running journals, let’s dive into the exciting world of choosing the perfect workout log for you. Prepare to embark on a journey filled with options, creativity, and personal flair.

When it comes to the format of your running log, it’s like strolling through a buffet of choices. You can go for the classic notebook, a bound training journal that feels oh-so-official, or embrace the digital age with an app or an online training log. Heck, you can even venture into the realm of vlogging or simply jot down your thoughts on loose scraps of paper. The possibilities are endless!

But here’s the secret: there is no one-size-fits-all answer. The right running journal is the one that speaks to you, the one that makes you excited to log your miles and experiences.

It should be a seamless extension of your personality and preferences. So, whether you prefer the tactile pleasure of pen on paper or the convenience of technology, follow your heart and choose what resonates with you.


The Easy Way

Now, here’s an easy way to dip your toes into the world of running journals: grab yourself an ordinary paper diary. You know, the kind you can find at your local bookstore or stationery shop.

Personally, I have a soft spot for the blank cardboard notebooks from Moleskine. They’re like little running companions, always ready to capture your thoughts and adventures. Plus, they’re compact and easy to carry around, making them perfect for those spontaneous runs that lead to unexpected discoveries.

But remember, the key is simplicity and convenience. Your running journal doesn’t need to be an intricate masterpiece or a complex piece of technology. It can be as straightforward as jotting down a quick notation in a notebook or marking your runs on a calendar.

The goal is to find a system that works for you and keeps you engaged and motivated.

Digital Tracking

Calling all tech-savvy runners, this one’s for you! If you’re the kind of runner who loves to dive into the digital world, then it’s time to unleash the power of technical tools. These nifty gadgets and apps are like turbo boosters for your running journey, offering a wealth of features and resources that can take your training to the next level. Get ready to embrace the digital realm and watch your progress soar!

Let’s start with the tech titan, Microsoft.

If you’re a fan of spreadsheets and organized data, why not create your own running log using Microsoft Excel or Google Sheets? With just a few clicks, you can have a beautifully crafted log that tracks your runs, calorie intake, and more. It’s like having a personal assistant for your fitness journey, providing you with all the tools you need to stay on top of your game.

But wait, there’s more! In the vast world of mobile apps, you’ll find a treasure trove of options specifically designed for tracking your workouts and nutrition. Apps like MyFitnessPal and FitDay are like virtual coaches, guiding you through your training and helping you stay accountable.

They provide detailed insights into your calorie intake, macronutrient breakdowns, and even offer personalized workout plans. It’s like having a pocket-sized fitness guru cheering you on every step of the way.

Now, let’s take a leap into the online realm. Joining a website or forum dedicated to running enthusiasts can be an incredible source of inspiration and support. Websites like and are buzzing communities where you can connect with fellow runners, share your achievements, and even discover new routes. It’s like having a running tribe at your fingertips, ready to celebrate your victories and offer advice when you hit a roadblock.

What to Log? The Main Running Data to Monitor

Once you choose the format, the next thing you need to consider is what to log—what information to write down and keep track of.

A good training log can record virtually anything you find relevant to your running routine.

Here are a few of the details to include:

  • Prescribed run, and actual run completed
  • Average pace.
  • Time and date of your run
  • Average running speed (using an app).
  • Record aches and pains. This can help prevent injury shortly.
  • For speedwork sessions, record your distance and splits.
  • Your running route.
  • Your pre- and post-run foods and drinks, and if possible, the night before.
  • Your heart rate.
  • Pre-run dynamic warm-up moves and post-run stretches.
  • Running shoes. Noting your shoe purchase date, miles, and which shoes you wear in each session.
  • Your short and long-term goals
  • Statistics related to your cross-training exercises, especially resistance training.
  • Virtually anything else or additional information you find important about your running program.

The Minimum to Keep Track of

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the idea of keeping a detailed running log, I’ve got a solution for you. Sometimes, all you need is the bare minimum to get started and still reap the benefits. Let’s break it down and simplify things for you.

Imagine this: you’re a busy bee with limited time on your hands. You’ve got a million things to juggle, but you still want to keep track of your runs. Well, good news! There are just a few essential pieces of information that you need to record to make your running log effective, even in the midst of a hectic schedule.

First and foremost, focus on the distance covered during your run. Whether it’s a quick jog around the block or a long-distance adventure, make a note of the total distance covered. For instance, you can jot down “3 miles” as a simple record of your achievement.

Next up, note the time it took you to complete those miles. Timing is everything! Record the duration of your run, whether it’s 30 minutes and 41 seconds or any other time frame. This will give you a clear idea of how long you spent on your feet and help you track your progress over time.

Now, here’s a pro tip: instead of solely relying on distance-based calculations, estimate your average pace per mile based on time. This way, you’ll have a more accurate representation of your performance.

It could be as simple as saying, “I covered 3 miles in 30 minutes and 41 seconds, which gives me an average pace of around 10 minutes and 20 seconds per mile.” This will come in handy when analyzing your runs and setting goals for future improvements.

So, remember, keeping a running log doesn’t have to be a complex task. By focusing on the essentials—distance, time, and average pace—you’ll still have valuable information at your fingertips without overwhelming yourself. It’s like having a condensed version of your running adventures neatly recorded, allowing you to see your progress at a glance.

Of course, if you find yourself with more time and the desire for a more detailed log, you can always expand and include additional information like your route, weather conditions, how you felt during the run, or any noteworthy observations. But for now, let’s keep it simple and get you started on the right track.

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