1. Goal Setting
Regardless of your objective – running a certain number of times per week, completing a race or finishing a race in a specific time, you’ll be far more likely to achieve your objective if you have an organized plan to get there – daily goals that you’ve recorded in your log.
2. Motivational Tool
Many runners (me included) hate recording zeroes on days that are scheduled run days. Knowing that your log will hold you accountable will help get you out the door on days when you just don’t feel like running and keep you on track with your commitment.
3. Builds Confidence
Comparing previous months’ training to current gives a quantifiable measurement of your progress to date, which is an important confidence builder. It feels great when you realize that your current long run is 30% longer than it was 2 months previous, or that a track or hill workout that you had tough time completing one month ago is now easy.
4. Improves Your Personal Training Program
After completing a race, analyzing your log to evaluate your training will yield clues about how your body reacted to the different elements of your training program. This will give you useful information that you can implement to train smarter for your next event. I trained seriously for a half-marathon two years ago. When I reviewed my running log post-race, I noticed that my hamstrings and hips were very sore for days following long or fast runs on routes with significant downhill portions. I concluded that I needed to increase my leg and glute strength in order to better withstand downhill running, train more effectively and race faster.
5. Prevents Illness and Burnout
Like the canary in the mineshaft, a running log can provide an early warning sign of impending danger — illness, staleness or burnout – before the physical symptoms manifest themselves. For me, three consecutive runs that I assign a rating in my log of 4 (out of 10) or less is a surefire signal that I’m fighting an infection or suffering excessive fatigue. By taking 3-4 days off from running, I give myself a chance to recuperate, thus warding off a more serious malady that would entail a long layoff.
6. Prevents Injuries
Careful review of your log after an injury often yields important clues as to what precipitated the injury. Was it a sudden increase in training? A change to a different type of terrain? Too many miles on your shoes to the point where they stopped providing adequate stability or shock absorption? Determining the tipping point will guide you to train more wisely.
7. Facilitates Trend Analysis — Seeing the Forest From the Trees
Reviewing your logs over a period of several months will provide valuable information about you and your running that would not be otherwise evident. For example, during a six month training period several years ago, I noticed that I took time off from running on five separate occasions because I felt I was catching a cold. Upon further inspection, I noticed that the “icky” feeling always occurred on a Tuesday that followed a long hard run. By making sure that I got adequate sleep on Sundays and Mondays, paying special attention to post-run nutrition and bolstering my immune system through Vitamin C and Echinacea supplementation, I was able to reduce my time off in future training.
8. Personal History
Reviewing several years of logs is like reviewing old diaries or journals. You’ll see how much you have grown as a runner. More importantly, you’ll be afforded the opportunity to reflect on the challenges that you’ve overcome, lessons that you’ve learned and positive character traits that you’ve developed over the long haul that you now apply in other aspects of your life.