Logging Workouts For Posterity

I first started running in 2003. Not that I didn’t run before that, but that’s when I became “a runner” (arguably). That’s when I started running with running performance as the end goal instead of running with rugby as the end goal. The first thing I did was seek out some people who were already runners and drain their brains of whatever info I could. One of the best pieces of advice I got was to keep a training log. Back then, lots of people who logged their training did so in a hand-written training diary, but I was lucky that I was beginning at a time when CoolRunning was already available. This meant I could have all of my training logged online without having to go back and re-enter old information.

CoolRunning was great–nice analysis tools, kept up with miles on shoes, etc. But then they sold out to Active, and I didn’t like the interface as much. So I started trying other sites like MapMyRun and Livestrong. It’s great to have the ability to map training courses, but they are all lacking something. There are either too many ads, not enough analysis tools, whatever. As a result, I have training data spread out across multiple logging sites, and what I really want is one place to keep all of my data.

Now I’m the one who has to re-enter old information when I find a logging tool I like.

I recently started using DailyMile, and I like it a lot. Sure, there are a couple of issues with it too. The analysis tools and interface are great. It’s also social–sort of like the “Facebook for training”. But you can’t go back and do analysis on lifetime data (yet). It’s also difficult to import old data. They have an API, and some guys have started a Java client library, but there’s still a lot of going back to the sites I used before and collecting the data.

What I’ve been doing is entering my new workouts as I do them, then going back and entering the data from the same date on previous years. If I have time, I’ll go back and enter some other old workouts as well. This seems like a hassle and something that would be best to do automatically.

But there’s an upside to doing it manually too. As I’m going back, I’m actually reading my old training logs and doing mental analysis on them. It’s helping with my current training. For instance, it’s encouraging to see how far I’ve come in the swim compared to the first swims I logged back in 2005. And holy crap…I was on a training tear in the summer of 2004. And while I feel like I’m so much slower right now than I was when I was marathon training in 2003, it’s nice to see that my times and splits are comparable to what they were then.  I’ve also noticed that I was much more negative about my training back in 2003 (maybe pressing too hard?). I expected every outing to be a PR and to feel great all the time. That’s funny to me now, knowing how “normal” it is to go out and have crappy training days every once in a while.

What I’m getting at is that it’s great to keep a training log, but it also may be worth your time to go back and review it periodically so you can see your growth and improvement. That isn’t always going to show up in the calculated pace from the workouts. A big part of it will show up in the notes you kept. Even if you have hand-written training logs, it may be a good idea to spend a few minutes each day going back and reviewing your logs from the previous years on that exact date, just to help keep things in perspective.

Keeping a training log is a good tip. I’d say reading your training log is a good tip too.

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