When I started this series, I worried this would happen. I worried I would come upon a letter that did not have an obvious running-related topic. J? Jogging? Jokes? I was sort of lost. Instead of burdening (or delighting) you with my running jokes (I think I'm hilarious) I decided to talk to you about the importance of journaling for runners.
I am a blogger and a writer at heart, so it is very natural for me to journal my runs and workouts. Journaling your runs includes documenting more than just how many miles you ran and at what pace. When you journal your runs you write about how you felt during your run, what the weather was like, the time of day, how you fueled and how you felt after. But even if you have never journaled before, there are great reasons why you should start a running journal today.
To state your goals
Writing you goals and plans down on paper is the first step in achieving them. So whether you are training for a half marathon, a faster 10k or your first 5K, having a written plan and goal serves as a daily reminder to stay on track and can be a motivator to do the work required to achieve that goal. A journal can hold you accountable to your goals.
To track improvements
Writing about your daily runs help you track improvements. Sometimes improvements may come slowly and you may feel like you are not improving at all. Being able to track your progress from week to week, month to month and year to year show you that while sometimes changes have been slow, they have been occurring.
I tend to forget every summer that the debilitating Texas summer heat slows me down and get mad at myself for my slower pace in 90% humidity. A running journal helps remind me of my paces and conditions from last summer so I can make comparisons based on similar conditions. I can't always count on my brain to remember.
To monitor and customize your training plan
Journaling helps you monitor how you feel during and after a run and the factors that can affect it. Maybe you notice that you always feel drained with "heavy" legs on early morning runs, but feel fast and efficient in the afternoon. That may mean your body doesn't respond well to running on an empty stomach in the morning. Maybe you notice you have better runs after a moderately high carb dinner.
Journaling may reveal that too many speed work sessions in one week leaves you feeling drained and overworked. Maybe adding an extra tempo run in a week improves your half marathon pace. It's hard to know what is working or not working until you track and monitor it.
I noticed that if I ran more than two days in a row, I would experience some hip pain. I backed off running on that third day for rest and the hip pain went away. The journal helped me see that pattern and I changed my training plan to fit my needs.
A journal can help you experiment with what is working, and not working for you. When you document how you feel, you can see the trends over time and make adjustments as needed.
To document achievements
I am a big fan of self-celebration. Too many things in this world can bring us down, let us remember to celebrate our achievements, both big and small. If I completed every workout on my plan for the week, that is cause for celebration! If I achieved a PR or even crossed a finish line without dying, let's celebrate. A journal helps you document those successes so that on those days that you are dealing with self-doubt or negative feelings you can turn to your journal to remember your past successes.
Getting started with journaling
All you need to get started is a notebook. Some people may prefer an app like Daily Mile, but call me old fashioned (or just old) but I prefer the pen and paper method. There is something that works for me when sitting down with a pen and notebook to document my experience.
All you need to get started is a regular notebook, but If you want to get fancy, I recommend the Believe Journal. It is training log designed by professional runners that is chalk full of motivation and inspiration. Best news? I have one for you to win in a giveaway. There are many ways to earn entries. Just complete one or complete them all for a better chance of winning. Good luck, friends!
Thanks for tuning in for another edition of running A-Z. Have any suggestions for future topics following the order of the alphabet? What do you want to learn more about? Let me know in the comments!
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