by Rob Hewison
Do you keep a record of your running? Most people don't but experts suggest that it is a very useful tool, and I have certainly found it so. It helps one to plan and assess one's progress (particularly important when training for an event), thereby helping to minimise the risk of injury. That apart, for myself I have always loved playing with records, statistics, tables and graphs, and I find it fascinating to look back at my running logs to see what I have done and how I felt about it at the time.
Many people simply record their mileage in a regular diary or notebook. If you want to be a bit more organised than that you will find several different type of printed logbook in any good running store or by mail order (look in running magazines or on the web).
There are also some excellent on-line logs. I have looked at most of them and the one I prefer is on a free website Fetch-Everyone ("Mr Fetch", who started the site as a personal one for his own records, lives in Wokingham and a regular runner in the Yateley 10Ks and other local races). At http://www.fetcheveryone.com you will find a very wide-ranging site with many running-related links and articles. There is a club directory, race calendar, discussion forum, message-board, photo-gallery (including the opportunity to keep and share one's own pictures), training planner, and many other features.
You need to register to start or view a running log (selected by the "Train" link on the homepage menu-bar) so I have shown a clip from my log below. Registration is quick and free and you can set your computer to log-in automatically once you are registered.
At first glance the FetchEveryone site and its logbook seems unduly complicated, but I soon found my way around it, and I only use what I consider relevant. In the running log section the facility is there to record the following data:- date & time, type of run (road, cross-country, treadmill, track, intervals, fartlek, race, etc), distance (imperial or metric), time, weather, mental attitude, shoes worn, heart-rate and as much text as you need.
The system automatically displays one's pace for each run. It also calculates estimated times for various distances from 5K to marathon, based on this pace but factored for the distance. Finally it shows a breakdown of total running to date, and weekly, monthly and annual summaries. A few days of my log for March and the summaries is shown below. The text comments aren't shown here; in this display they are hidden behind the little box in the third column but they can be permanently shown if required.
I have recorded my running since soon after I started taking it seriously in 1981. My first logbook is dated 1982, in which year I ran 1668 miles. I averaged 32 miles a week, with a peak of 69 miles three weeks before the London (my first marathon, picture here at mile 25). I have never come close to those totals since.
In those days I kept my log in hand-written log-books, to which I added photographs, certificates and other mementos (I also drew graphs of my planned and achieved daily mileage, with a rolling average of the last 7 days).
After the '82 London I wrote in my log:
A brilliant run! 3:28:07 (on my watch).
Pace 9:30 m/m for 1st mile, then 8:00m/m or less to 23 miles, 7:30 m/m for next 2 miles and better than 7 m/m for the last 1.2 miles!
First half in 1:46:40 (8:08 m/m), second in 1:41:27 (7:45 m/m). Overall pace 7:57 m/m.
Tremendous atmosphere. "Chariots of Fire" theme blasted from hundreds of speakers all along the course. Wow! What a day ."
After a long break from 1985 to 2003 (triggered by an unrelated back injury) I started running again three years ago, when I began to record my running on a simple (M/s Excel) computer spreadsheet. For each run I record distance (sometimes measured, often estimated), time, my route (I name all my regular routes) and whatever (subjective or objective) comments seem relevant. The spreadsheet calculates and displays the annual total mileage to date (third column below) and the total in the last seven days (fourth column).
Here is an excerpt of my log for December 2005:-
My spreadsheet also calculates and displays on a bar-graph the daily mileage, with line-graphs showing the average mileage over the last seven and fourteen days. The latter is very useful in planning the build-up to an event so as to minimise the risk of overuse injury, and the "taper" before the event itself. All I need do is plan my running in such a way as to get these two lines on the graph to be as straight as possible, with a reasonable angle of climb or descent.
Part of my running graph (Jan-Feb 2006)
If you don't do so already, do try keeping a log. I'm sure you will find it useful and in years to come you will find it fascinating reading.
(I would be pleased to pass on a template for my spreadsheet running log. But be warned, it is a rather cumbersome thing and not easy to modify (unless you know a great deal more about Excel than I do). If you are interested please contact me through the Newsletter editor.