Wednesday, February 1, 2012

How to Create and Keep a Running Log

Somehow I have managed to write 110 blog posts about running over the past 2.5 years and not mentioned running logs. This is a travesty that I will fix now. 

A running log, in its simplest form, is a running list (no pun intended) of your workouts and mileage. 

Why keep a running log? 
  • Use it as a reference. When you’re especially tired one week, look back at your mileage – did you jump from 20 miles last week to 35 this week? Have you been steadily increasing for too long? When was your last day off? Have you done hard workouts too often? The answers to all of these questions can be found in your log.
  • Keep track of your races. If you log your race results and splits you can look back and see how you trained for your PRs. 
  • It keeps you accountable. If you need motivation, share your log with a friend to keep on track.  
  • Know when to buy new shoes. Rule of thumb is 300-400 miles. There's no way to know unless you log them!
  • It's satisfying to finish a run/workout and record it. It makes it feel like it really happened. Because if you don't write it down, and then completely forget about it, it's kind of lost, right? 

What to log:
  • Date/time of day (I usually - but not always - note am/pm)
  • Miles and time 
  • Cross-training (i.e. yoga, bike, pool)
  • Strength training (i.e. abs, lifting)
  • Hikes or major walks 
  • How you feel – some people rate their workouts on a scale of 1-5 (I don’t do this).
  • The weather – note major heat, humidity, rain, etc. (I don’t usually do this).
  • When you buy new shoes. 

How to log:
The format, style, and level of detail in your log is totally up to you. It can vary from super-simple to incredibly detailed and complex. An important point to remember is that it doesn’t matter what other people do – this log is for you and by you, and nobody else really cares (I mean that in the nicest way possible). 

Nowadays there are all sorts of online programs for logging workouts – they chart and graph and compare and can be shared. If you want/enjoy/think you need that level of detail then go for it. I don't do this, so I can't really recommend a service, but there are all sorts of running log templates available online.

I now keep my log in the sidebar of Eat, Run, Read, mostly because it’s convenient. Before my blogging days, I logged my workouts in a very small notebook (which I still have somewhere). 

Log entry examples  (Mollie-style): 
  • For a mileage run: 10/20/11 - pm run 50" 6 miles
  • For a workout: 1/31/12 - am workout: wu/cd 35", 4 miles, 6x800m (3:05, 2:59, 3:00, 3:01, 3:02, 3:02), 8 total
  • Occasionally I note how I felt, but it’s rare and the detail is sparse: 9/15/09 - BAD workout - wu 20 min, 2 miles (12:12) - STOP (ha there’s a blog post about that one – ugh that was painful)
  • Or if something is hurting I record it: 8/24/10 - warm up 12', 400m (1:28), 800m (3:04), 1200m (5:02) STOP bad shin/hamstring cool down 8 min - 4 miles

My log notation:
  • “ or ' = minutes (though you could also do ‘ for minutes, and “ for seconds)
  • wu/cd = warm up and cool down
  • () = interval times

Do you keep a running log? If not, start now! And if so, any tips to share with me? 
(I also keep a reading log.)


  1. Ahahah - yours is so much simpler than mine. More elegant too. But I like having a lot of information, including weather, HR, splits. I also like noting all my possible niggles. And quantity of Pepto and shots of inhaler.

    (wow, I'm weird)

    And shoes. Measuring miles on shoes is pretty important, I think

  2. I should be keeping track of all of this but I just let training peaks do it and replace my shoes when my feet get cranky.

  3. Good points! I totally forgot to add shoes and that's so important, so I've updated the post. Thanks!

  4. Daily mile! And I use training peaks, too, because that way my coach can see what I've been up to.

  5. I track my workouts using iCal. It's very basic, just miles (if outside) or time (if inside). Mostly I use it as a way to look back and feel good about what I've accomplished. With my latest pair of running shoes I also started tracking the shoe mileage. I was amazed how quickly the miles added up. I've been thinking about starting a more detailed log using a spreadsheet so that I don't have to add things up manually. So your tips and examples were very helpful. Thanks!

  6. This is a great idea! Thanks for sharing. :) I recently started blogging about running at