The other day my husband noticed me writing down my mileage for the day in my planner. He commented that he thought I was done logging miles for the year. It is true that last year I decided to track my mileage to see just where I would end up by the New Year but I gained a lot of insight from that information. Keeping a training log can provide plenty of information about your running and your body.
Last year when I ended up sidelined with a serious bout of Achilles Tendonitis I spent the first week dumbfounded about what had happened to me. Then I sat down and looked at my miles and at first I still couldn’t figure out what was going on. I had been running the same mileage since the New Year and there was even a slight dip in my miles around the time I got injured. But by looking at that info I realized it was around the same time I had purchased a new pair of shoes. I didn’t actually write down my new shoe purchase but by seeing all of the data right there I was able to establish a timeline for what had happened.
Over the summer my husband was training for the Chicago Marathon and while he personally wasn’t tracking his mileage he was following a plan and I was logging the miles for both of us. This training session he seemed to be struggling with little nagging issues that were enough to force him to take frustrating breaks from his training. He was playing it smart but he couldn’t figure out what the heck was going on. Then at mile 18 of the marathon, as he was cruising toward a PR finish time, his hip flexor suddenly gave out. Being the champion that he was he pushed himself to walk to the finish line. The most frustrating part of this? He had never dealt with any hip flexor issues on a run ever.
After a hiatus from running and once his hip flexor was ready to cooperate we sat down and discussed his training and reflected on the summer. The mileage was not the issue. In fact, given his breaks due to injury, he ran less mileage than other training rounds. By looking at what he had done over the past year we were able to determine that he really needed to focus on strengthening his lower body. Over the next few months he started doing daily exercises specific to his running and he is now running stronger than he was before!
Keeping even the most basic training log can be a major help in determining what works and what doesn’t work specifically for you. It can be as simple as jotting your miles each day in your planner (this is how I roll) and adding up monthly mileage. Or you can take it a step further and make it more detailed. Write down each training session including yoga, cross training, and weight workouts. Keep notes on how you are feeling or how your pace progresses. This information acts like your very own running coach. It can do the detective work to keep you on track (pun intended).
Speaking from experience this requires very little time on your end. But the insight you will gain and the chance to avoid nagging injuries makes it well worth the effort!