Distance running is, in practice, a simple pursuit. It requires little equipment and essentially just the will or impetus to get out the door.
Even in the age of Garmins to track mileage, pace, heart rate and myriad other variables, one of the most rudimentary tools remains central to the foundation for any runner with whom I work. Over time and an evolutionary process, the logs employed in my training scheme have two distinct and crucial components: a running log and a recovery log (sample attached below).
The running log provides a snapshot of the day; run or workout specifics, general comments, distance/time run, pace(s), weather, and the like. With many athletes, this portion seems to serve as almost a form of confessional- where athletes will admit they feel a cold coming on or the fact that they went out way too hard – even when they might never verbalize such feedback.
The other element of the training log is a recovery matrix that allows athletes to chart various aspects of recovery according to a point system. Here too one can see whether meals are eaten or skipped, whether athletes are sleeping 8+ hours a night and if stress is creeping into the daily routine.
Looking back over a season, year or more to find repetitive patterns or performances on marker workouts can serve as a very powerful tool, and I believe firmly that the training log should be used as a means of enhancing the coach-athlete working relationship rather than as ‘evidence’ to be used against an athlete. The logs should help refine the training process rather than assess or evaluate the effectiveness of training; that’s what races are for!
Despite the availability of numerous online and electronic logs these days, I still prefer paper logs, which can be taken anywhere and allow for notes and comments to be jotted along the way. Ultimately, a training log can positively impact the quality of, and confidence surrounding, an athlete’s performance, two outcomes that make logging well worth the time.