The Importance of Keeping a Training Log

Runners, or athletes in general have many traits that are common among all, but there are also a few ways in which people can be complete opposites; whether you are interested in what races the Olympians are doing, where your Alma mater/school you work at is ranked in the National listings, where your time places you in an overall percentage of your age group. These all come down to your love/obsession/interest in the sport.

However, there is one difference that is important, that you do need to pay attention to, and whether you find it a chore or not, you should make a part of your daily routine. Logging your training.

When I look back on training through my teenage years, I had absolutely no idea how many miles I ran, what workouts I did, or what shoes I wore. Now, I can tell you exactly how many miles I have run in each pair of shoes, what the weather was like the day I ran 8x1mile, and when my muscle strain first started to appear last November. A training log can help you to move forward with a healthy progression, or look back on what went wrong in the past.

There are a number of ways to do this; some people make their own excel spreadsheets; others keep a journal; and my personal favorite is using an online resource. Most of my elite, collegiate, and running friends use Athleticore, but you can also try out Running2Win if you prefer.

Athleticore is a database where you can enter the details of your runs, and even compare yourself against the leader board of highest mileage athletes (which I actually feature on right now :P). You can make your profile private if you desire, or you can make it public for all Athleticore users to see. You can even create your own team if you and some friends wanted to compare within a group!

This is the screen you will see after signing up and every time you log in to the site

When you click Training Log, you will be taken to this screen, which will show your training for the month. It is here where you add your activities: Run, Bike, Swim, Alternative (there are a LOT of activities in here). You can even add in a food log, goals, and sleep patterns from this page.

When you click on a specific day, or Add Run, it will take you to this screen where you can fill in as much (or as little) as you like about your training.

The more information you can add, the better. If you start detailing the pains/feelings/thoughts about your runs, when something does go wrong, you can often pinpoint where it began to make sure you do not make the same mistake again. Adding the other details such as weather, feeling, wind, will only help you with this process.

Athleticore allows you to add your own courses, workouts, and shoes. There is also a comments section at the bottom to leave notes for yourself/your coach.Β The shoes feature is one of the most important features as it allows you to track how many miles are on each pair of shoes to make sure you are not putting yourself at risk of injury.

If you want to be better, and want to truly learn from your mistakes, keeping a training log is the best way to do that. I love seeing all my hard work put in front of me on a screen, it is reassuring before a race, and helps to build confidence that I am ready. Reduce those pre-race doubts by keeping a training log, starting today!

Do you keep a training log? What do you use to reflect over previous training periods?

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69 Comments.

  • A training log is something I know I should do but have never been very consistent with it. Why? I tend to go overboard with the details and it becomes too much and too cumbersome to keep up with. If you had to pick 3 must-haves for a training log what would they be? You've convinced me to commit to this part of training.

    Great info Tina!

  • I love tracking my workouts so I can see where I've come in terms of my fitness. I just use good old pen and paper so I don't get fancy stats but I do get stats when I run with my garmin outside.

    Great post lady

  • Sigh. I know, I know, I know I should, but I just don't. something about it just kind of sucks the fun out of it for me. I'm not a number cruncher, I guess, and this somehow falls into that category for me. I will think about it, though, on your recommendation!

  • I was victim to that for a while too Jilll, and that is why I stepped away from it, but you can just do the bare minimum if you need to. I think miles on shoes, feeling, and weather are 3 must haves! Thanks Jill πŸ™‚

  • As long as you get it down, that is all that matters πŸ™‚

  • If you worry about that, you do not have to go into huge detail, but maybe your shoes and feeling should be a part you do write down, especially with your bad luck of injuries lately, it may help you prevent them in the future πŸ™‚

  • If I am training for something specific, I will track. If I am just training to train, not so much. I don't have the right level of OCD to be a real athlete. My husband on the other hand…

  • What a great resource! I've been tracking my training for 7-8 years, and love it. But I'm a paper and pen girl (same with my calendar- can't give up my planner!!) so my running is in a journal by my bed. But I'm often asked for good online resources so I'll have to remember this one!

  • My training log is of the pen/pencil/paper calendar variety–particularly with all of these injuries that I have been dealing with, I have to be able to be flexible but also to to not feel disappointed for not being able to keep up to where I would like to be. If I was more structured (speedwork, etc) then I would likely prefer the structure and ability to scroll through quickly. When I am training, i write out a plan for the week in pencil, then erase and write what I actually did in pen afterwards. Also. I apparently don't really like being told what to do πŸ˜€

  • These apps are great! I don't keep a training journal, although I generally follow a training plan while race training. I love the idea of not only keeping track of big things like pace/mileage, but smaller details like how you felt/weather/any new pains/mileage on shoes. Thank you, I think this is something I am going to try out!

  • I don't keep a training log and know that I should. From the previous comments, I'm glad I'm not the only one! I've started to make note of my miles and I guess I technically have mileage and pace info in my watch…Just need to do something with that information πŸ™‚

  • I've never heard of Athleticore but completely agree with the importance of keeping a training log! I've been using my own homemade Excel spreadsheet for years and love it!

  • This would be awesome for my cross country team! I have them keep a log, but it sounds like you can set up athleticore so that the coach can have access, right? I will look into it.

    I have an app on my phone to log my own runs, which I find really convenient. It tracks my shoe mileage too, which I've done for as long as I've been running, even when it was a notation on my pocket calendar. I should be better with comments about how I feel, etc.

  • I don't keep a training log… I don't think it would be the worst idea but I think it may lower my confidence. I was slowly increasing weights for awhile and then when my back pain got worst I had to take a huge step back… I'm slowly increasing them so I could probably track them now but, to be honest, I'm pretty comfortable workout out without a log πŸ™‚ But maybe that's just me.

  • Lately I do try to keep better track of my mileage. I always have MapMyRun keeping tally on my miles and pace but there are some runs where I don't use the app therefore those are lost. I have been writing down my miles each day in my planner but the rest of the details I leave out. I find my blog helps me keep decent track of how I felt during my runs too lol…I am obsessed with my sneakers being perfect so even when I lose site of how many miles are on them, my toes let me know immediately when I have reached the point of crossing that 350 mile mark where I venture to get a new pair. I am finding though that the Adidas Energy Boost really do give me extra miles before needing a new pair which is glorious.

  • I like to use Garmin connect with my Garmin watch to record running workouts. I upload my new info after each run and it records mileage, weather and a whole lot more. For special runs like long runs, I'll also add what I ate.

  • This was such great information! I'm about to check out Athleticore right now! thank you for sharing!

  • I'm old school and keep a written log. I have them for at least the last 15 years.
    The online ones look super fun but for now I will probably stick with my old fashioned ways.

  • I track everything through daily mile. Not as systematic, but I'm relatively lax about plans at the moments so all I want is mileage and pace.

  • I got the Nike+ watch so that I could track my running. I bought simply because I wanted to know how far I was running πŸ™‚

  • This is such a great idea Tina! I haven't heard of this program but will definitely be setting up a profile. I've been keeping a hand written training log but it's not quite as effective as online where you can track, compare etc. Have a great weekend!

  • Tracking training is so important! I use my Google Calendar for ALL of the planning πŸ˜‰

  • When I first started running (years ago!) I kept a very detailed log in an excel spreadsheet – which was very high tech for 2000! Now? I'm only tracking because I'm training for Spain and I'm using TrainingPeaks which I really like BUT it's so time consuming!

  • Yep. I think I am like your husband in a lot of ways πŸ™‚ I used to be obsessed with athleticore, but now I feel healthy with my relationship with it. It is good to use when you have a goal in mind

  • Thanks Laura, I am the same way with calendars/diarys rather than using my phone. That is good you keep it by your bed so you can be reminded to do it! Thanks for passing on the info πŸ™‚

  • Yeah, thats very true. As silly as it sounds, I used to write a predicted calendar in my diary, but I used to always get injured shortly after doing so, now I do not tempt fate! That is very clever with the pencil and pen though! Haha, yeah I can be that way too….sometimes its good…sometimes πŸ˜›

  • Thanks Erin, yes it is so helpful for keeping track! I find those little details often point to things you would not have noticed otherwise. Let me know how you get on πŸ™‚

  • Yeah, sounds like I am one of the only ones who does πŸ˜› That is true, it is stored up, but eventually it fills up! I used to store it all up then write it up, but you miss the minor details that can foreshadow to what is gonna happen.

  • That is what I did for a few years, I liked it, but my coach thought it was too complicated, and I had to keep sending it to him rather than just being able to log in and see. Whatever works, as long as you track it πŸ™‚

  • Yes! Debbie it would be perfect! I actually had my La Salle athletes use it last summer so we could see what they were up to while they were home. You can have your own account and set it up for them (thats what I did), then they can change their passwords and log in each day to fill it out. That means you do not have to call them and ask whats wrong as you can see little pains they have to keep an eye on them.

    That is a good idea to have an app on your phone, but I like having it all in one place πŸ™‚

  • Yeah, it can be that way. I am sorry your back is giving you trouble, but hopefully you are on your way back to normality. That is okay if you are happy as you are πŸ™‚ Whatever works for you! I think it is only a necessity if you are doing high mileage running where you can easily lose track.

  • Yeah, I like to use map my run for my runs to plan out where to go. I do not take my phone though so cant use the app. That is true, blogging does keep account of it, but I like that athleticore can be private so you can write things that you may not be comfortable sharing…..stomach issues are what I often write about haha. I am glad you keep good track of your shoes! That makes a huge difference!

  • Oh thats interesting, I had no idea Garmin Connect did all that. Mine has my runs, but I rarely connect it to the internet. Maybe I should a little more!

  • Glad to be of help πŸ™‚ Hope you like it!

  • Thats okay Kim, whatever works for you. As long as you keep track somehow, thats all you really need!

  • Yeah, that works well. I should have mentioned some of the apps, but I just do not really use my phone enough for my running to make it worthwhile. Sounds like it works for you!

  • Good idea! I have heard some good things about the Nike+ community πŸ™‚

  • Thank Ursula! Hope you like it πŸ™‚ You too!

  • Oh Google huh? Had no idea you could use that! I am learning a lot from the comments today!

  • I have not heard of TrainingPeaks, but I might look at it to see what it is all about. I used to have a similar excel spreadsheet, but it was too tough for my coach to look at so I moved to an online source πŸ™‚

  • What an informative post! I've been using a training log online for a few years now. First I started one on Runner's World and then I had it exported to runningahead.com, where i've kept it faithfully for the last three years. I think it's important to track your information but I know I don't go back through my log often enough to actually learn from what I have written!

  • Training Peaks supposed to be great. I guess there is a paid version and a free version, and the paid version is pretty good.

  • I use Daily Mile to track my running workouts. It's nice to look back at. I'm not really a numbers person but I do like looking at my running stats. So much to learn from! I've never heard of athleticore – thanks for the recommendation!

  • we use training peaks, but definitely going to check this out!!! thanks friend

  • I started a training journal last year but I kind of stopped once basketball season started. I really need to get back into it! Also, my feet have kind of been hurting in my shoes so I think it's time to get new ones!

  • I use DailyMile to track or my fitbit…or nike plus! But mostly I use the last two to log my miles, etc on DailyMile. I find it handy to see my total week's mileage and to motivate myself to actually go for a run or a workout since DailyMile is sort of a social site.

  • Tina! I love this! I was thinking of making a log run myself after my awful run on Saturday. This would be perfect! Thanks for the recommendations girlfriend!

  • I go crazy over logging apps πŸ˜‰ I've recently been trying out Jefit (free app) to log my workout routines and track progress. One of the best I've found!

  • I don't run, but I use a training log for my strength training. I use workout logs that I found online for the training program I do (New Rules of Lifting Supercharged.) I just use pen and paper and look back at the previous workout to make sure I push myself harder on the next one.

  • I've never heard of either of these training logs but they sound really comprehensive. I don't think I'll ever be a true runner but I do track my workouts.

  • I've been tracking consistently for about 4 years – I use daily mile and google docs when working with my coach – but I am going to look into athleticore – looks like a great site for tracking.

  • I have my paper log and Daily Mile. This log looks cool too but in all reality, I need to keep my logging simple so I have more time to run, play, work, etc.

  • Wow I never heard of this training log site. I rely on my Nike+ and Runkeeper apps, and using the blog to write about my workouts!

  • Agreed. My coach and I log everything on a google doc. Plus I usually have 1-3 hard copies floating around my house. I get a lot of validation from checking off my training, so I like to have it written out (generally also colour coordinated) with big check marks next to workouts I did.

  • Thanks Raina! That is true, you do not want to get to the stage where you obsess about it. I have to hold myself back sometimes as I want to go compare times of previous workouts.

  • No problem, hope you check it out!

  • Training peaks seems to be a common one that people use! Always interesting to learn πŸ™‚

  • Yes! Make sure you do get new ones….dont wanna get injuries you could have prevented πŸ™‚

  • Oh you have quite a few ways of keeping your training πŸ™‚ That is another reason I love it! Love looking back at all the work I have done!

  • Yes, you should! Hope you like it, and hope that running is going much better this week πŸ™‚

  • Oh really, have not heard of that one! Will give it a look πŸ™‚

  • Yeah, it is equally as important for other training. Good plan to continue improvement, you have your mind in the right place!

  • That's all you need Carla πŸ™‚ Not sure there is such a thing as a true runner, it is always there for you, no matter how much you do it!

  • Google Docs, thats a good idea! I did not think about that for collaboration! Hope you like athleticore πŸ™‚

  • That is fair enough, whatever keeps you doing it, is good enough πŸ™‚

  • There are a lot more apps and websites than I realized! That is great, and blogging is also a great way to keep track πŸ™‚

  • Interesting, I would never have thought of google docs before this, but that makes sense! Oh that sounds like something I would do too, I love color coordinating πŸ˜› Good idea!

  • How do you manage on days when you wake up and just don't want to do what you set out to do that day? I never regret a run, but the feeling of dread I sometimes get just anticipating the day ahead gets me stressed and I want to throw in the towel! Maybe a post on motivation, Tina or Jill?

  • I wish I could answer that with some kind of motivational response like Jill, but for me it is just reminding myself that those bad days, the days your legs just wont go, or you just dont want to, are the days that make those good days happen. If everything went well all the time, you would never appreciate it. I will definitely do a post on motivation soon though! Thanks for the suggestion πŸ™‚

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