Keeping a Running Logbook

What starts as a simple log grows into a personal and lasting running diary.

Keeping a running logbook can be a great training tool. It might require some extra effort in the beginning, but in a few weeks you’ll start reaping the benefits of sticking with it. For many runners, what starts as a simple log grows into a personal and lasting running diary.

Logging your runs

A running log is a place where you record your runs. It could be a notebook, spreadsheet or even a weblog. The details included in the logbook are individual choices, but most people enter the date, place, distance, time and general feelings about the run. If you want to be more thorough you can also record details on weather and terrain.

British former marathon champion Ron Hill has kept a log for virtually his entire running life. "I started to keep a log on September 3, 1956. I was still at school, and I wanted to keep a record of how many days a week I was running and how that affected my races. It was also a record of my race results. The things I added were weather conditions, the number of reps and type of speedwork sessions and how I felt during and after the session. Nowadays, out of curiosity I record my resting heartrate when I wake up."

Building confidence

This all sounds fairly simple, but why bother in the first place? First of all, a logbook acts as a source of motivation in itself. When you start adding up all the kilometers you've run, you get a feeling of achievement which will help build your confidence as a runner.

“ Have a space for every day of the week in your log. When there is a blank space or spaces it emphasises lost opportunities for training. I have never missed a day since December 20,1964. I do not believe in days off.” — Ron Hill

For Hill, keeping a log has been an essential element in his success as a runner. Looking back on his marathon achievement in the 1970 Commonwealth Games in Edinburgh, where he broke the 2:10 barrier for the second time in history, Hill recounts: "Before my 2:09:28 in Edinburgh, I was able to look back at my five previous best long distance performances in detail and plan my last two weeks of training in detail. I knew exactly what runs I was going to do in those two weeks."

Managing injuries

A logbook can also help you manage injuries and learn what recovery plan works best for you. By tracking the development of an injury from its beginning right through to healing, you may apply the same rehabilitation in the future, or alter it for a better result.

Hill often looks back into his logs to learn from previous experiences. "Sometimes when I return to a race I will look at my previous performances in that race. I sometimes use them when I am advising someone on their training. It is amazing how selective memory is often far from the actual facts!"

Setting goals

By making you aware of your progress as a runner, a logbook becomes the perfect tool for setting goals. You can project your past progress into the future and create your own training plan, which you can then tweak along the way.

As Hill advises: "Have a space for every day of the week. When there is a blank space or spaces it emphasises lost opportunities for training. I have never missed a day since December 20, 1964. I do not believe in days off. After all, a 3k easy run is a rest!"

Your personal running history

Ultimately, a logbook helps you to learn about yourself as a runner and allows you to be in control of your running. You build a personal running history, which you can look back on and learn from. As you realise what training style brought the biggest rewards, you can plan for even more success based on your own empirical evidence.

Once you get the hang of it, your running logbook might well grow into a full-fledged diary, containing not just running details but conversations, thoughts and ideas you have while running. Creating a personal My ASICS training plan will also help.

Expert contribution by Ron Hill. Ron Hill is a former professional long-distance runner. At the height of his career he set numerous world records and won the Boston Marathon in 1970 in a course record of 2:10:30. He managed to run  races in 100 different countries by his 70th birthday and continues to run every day. Hill has also co-authored a new book titled Manchester Marathons 1908-2002.

Photo © Ron Hill, all rights reserved, used by permission.