If you geek out over numbers, you’re gonna LURV this.
Let’s talk about tracking workouts. Do you do it…or nah?
For most of my running life, I did not keep a log of any kind. Mainly because I didn’t know it was even a thing. However, when I realized the benefits of a running log, and how much fun it is, I started tracking every single mile. I haven’t stopped.
A log doesn’t have to be fancy or technical; many major runners from past decades used a simple notebook. The point is just to keep a record of your running so that you have a way of understanding trends or patterns, as well as a way to see progress!
There is a ton of helpful information out there from more accomplished and knowledgeable runners than myself. Here’s a great resource for keeping a running log, and another one discussing the power of a running log.
For me, the tools that I have found most useful for tracking my miles are my Garmin watch and my Google Doc spreadsheet.
After I’m done running, my watch sends the workout data via wifi to the online Garmin platform where I can easily view it from my phone or computer. My watch is a couple years old, so it doesn’t do everything the fancier models do, like heart-rate monitoring, but it gives me all the data I need and more.
The above is what my 12×400 intervals looked like (more on that workout here). Look, it looks like waves in the ocean :) Each bump is “speed” — there are only 11 bumps, but I ran 12. There’s something really satisfying about the visual evidence of hard work.
The above is what my GPS tracker looked like after my second marathon. It was one of the more miserable days of my life haha. Firstly, see that cute little cloud in the top right corner?… yep, it rained the entire time. Secondly, I was freezing for the second half of the race due to intense wind coming in from the water. Thirdly, everything on me was completely soaked, including my shoes, leading to the weirdest running mishap ever. My shoe insert came loose and folded itself in half, inside my shoe! I had to stop multiple times in the last 6 miles to remove my whole shoe and unfold the insert. And fourthly, being soaked meant I had the worst chafing I have ever experienced in my life. Sure, I applied body glide to the usual hotspots (lookin at you inner thigh), but a thousand warriors could not have saved me from the ring of chafing around my NECK from my shirt! Just thinking about that day makes me cringe.
But I digress…
In addition to Garmin data, I like to also record some key data in my Google Doc spreadsheet. I have columns for each of the following:
- Date. I like this format: 011217 instead of Jan 12th 2017. I have data going back years.
- Workout type. Tempo, intervals, long, or easy, I always record what I did. For example, “6m easy” means I ran 6 miles at easy pace. And “7m (12×400)” means that I ran twelve 400 meter sprints, each followed by a recovery jog, covering a total distance of 7 miles – with warmup and cooldown included.
- Splits. The Garmin data comes in handy for keeping track of paces and splits. I just copy these from the Garmin site to the spreadsheet. I put any fast miles or speed intervals in bold so that they stand out from the easy/recovery miles. This way, it’s easy to quickly get a visual of how much speed I’m doing each week, and also easy to see progress over time with a quick scroll.
- Duration. How long the workout took. I like this notation for anything over an hour “1:05:34”, and this notation for workouts less than an hour long “0:53:20”. This way, all the times look “uniform” in the column.
- Shoe miles. I track the number of miles I run in any given pair of shoes. I have noticed that I am more injury prone if I don’t switch out my shoes after 400 miles or so.
- Comments. This is a column I use to note anything of relevance. For example, I record whether I skipped a planned workout due to fatigue, travel, or injury.
- Weekly mileage. It’s helpful to see how many miles I run in any given week. When building mileage, I’ve seen reputable running sites recommend increasing mileage by no more than 10% per week. Additionally, if I have too many weeks of high mileage in a row, I try to take a “cutback” week of lower mileage. This helps to prevent injury by letting my body recover from #allthemiles.
- Monthly and Yearly mileage. I have columns for these, but I rarely look at them unless I have a specific goal. For example, my goal last year was to run 2,016 miles in 2016. I was on track until about August when the wheels came off. Spoiler alert, I didn’t meet my goal. -_-
It’s really not too difficult to get a spreadsheet set up like this. Once you have your formulas in place to populate things like weekly/monthly/yearly mileage, you are set.
Above is an example of what one week in the log might look like (minus the monthly/yearly mileage column). The paces/splits aren’t real as this is just for illustration purposes.
I should also note that I originally started my log in Microsoft Excel, but switched to Google Docs because it was more convenient to view from my phone or any device connected to the internet.
One of my favorite things about keeping a running log is being able to look back and seeing progress. Knowing you just crushed a workout that you couldn’t have done last month is a pretty great feeling.
It’s also pretty cool when all these memories come flooding back when you look at data from a particular workout… although I suppose some memories aren’t as pretty, case in point, my marathon situation above!
Do you keep track of your workouts? Have you ever run in the rain?