Should You Keep a Training Log?

On March 28, 1998, I ran five miles. All these years later, I can still recall that information. I have no idea what clothing I wore that day, what I ate for lunch or what happened at work, but I do know I completed a five-miler. How come? Because I recorded this accomplishment in a training journal.

Tracking your miles and your progress aid in motivation and also prove a key tool for weight loss success. Some people view journaling as a burden—yet another nagging task on the to-do list. But on the contrary, I’ve found that this record-keeping practice can yield extremely positive results. Not to mention that logging your mileage is way easier now than it was in 1998!

You can keep a journal or logbook many different ways. You can go “retro” and use a pen and paper-filled notebook, you can use software on your computer, or you can use an app on your phone. There is no shortage of methods for tracking your activities; you just have to find the approach that works best for you.

Journals and logs can detail a variety of subjects. For example, you can easily track your runs. Some people just write the day, mileage and pace, while others record the pace of each mile. Some runners even note the weather, how they felt, what shoes they wore or who they ran with.

You can also choose to track what you eat. For several years, I kept a detailed, daily food log. It was a great way to make me aware of the calories I consume, and it helped reinforce the impact of my nutritional choices on my body.

Additionally, you can track your emotions. As a supplement to my training logs, I’ve always kept a separate journal to record how I’ve felt and reacted to various events throughout my life, in addition to writing down general musings. This kind of journal, although not directly connected to food or running, helps me reflect and focus. It gives me the powerful ability to look back on my accomplishments and to look ahead to future goals.

Journals only provide value if they’re actually used. So, pick a technique that feels comfortable. I combine a bit of high tech with old school paper journaling. My running millage is automatically tracked through my Fitbit or MapMyRun app but I still try to find some time each week to make a handwritten entry into my paper journal—something I’ve found to be a wonderful mental break from all of life’s stressors. Just getting my thoughts down on paper allows me to sleep more soundly and to purge any negative feelings while focusing on all the things I’m thankful for. If you’re not tracking your workouts or putting your thoughts down on paper, I strongly urge you to give it a try.

Dawna is a mom of two, author of ten books and founder of Women's Running magazine and the Virtual Women's Half Marathon series. She is also a certified health coach and motivational speaker. Dawna has appeared on the Today show, MSNBC and morning news programs on NBC, CBS, ABC, and Fox. Dawna has launched and sold two wellness companies and loves combining her passion for health and wellness with her love of running. Learn more about Dawna Stone.

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