Coach Mike Mead

February 2014

Mining for Training Log Nuggets

There is the saying, “You don’t know where you are going if you don’t know where you’ve been.” Travelers use maps. Runners use maps, too, but the most overlooked runner’s guide is the training log.

Over the years in this space I’ve touted the value of keeping a daily running log to see where you’ve been. With today’s technologies, runners can find numerous on-line or electronic logs to keep training details. Many runners use watches with either GPS and/or heart-rate monitors to track many details that the average runner just couldn’t keep up with and enjoy the run and/or scenery.

I prefer keeping a simple, old-fashioned training log that Runner’s World sends to its subscribers annually and I’ve been using the logs for years. It is low-tech, but at my age these days, I am only interested in my mileage and my efforts.

In 2013, I ran 1,615 miles. In 2007, I ran 2,004 miles. As I did a comparison between the two years, I discovered that I did not run 63 days last year. In 2007, I missed 59 days. I averaged 4.42 miles a day in 2013 while I averaged 5.49 miles a day in 2007.

Now, if I only take the average of the days I actually ran in 2013, I averaged 5.34 miles. In 2007, I averaged 6.54 miles on the days I actually ran.

So what have I learned? If I was in serious training mode and wanted to increase my weekly mileage, all I simply need to do during the year is cut down on my off-days. Going with just the yearly average, including the missed days, I could have added 278 miles to my 1,615-mile total (1,893). If I use the actual miles per day average, I could have added 336 miles for a total of 1,951 miles.

For 2007, I could have boosted my yearly total to either 2,327 or 2,390 miles. Of course, it means I could not have missed a day of running during the year.

The lesson learned is if I am trying to find a way to boost my mileage I can simply run more on the days I don’t run, or simply run more each day! Having a training log is valuable to those runners trying to make gains.

The training log can be used to document your effort on any given workout. One can compare a workout – say 4 x mile – done in May and the same workout done again in October. If you note the time and temperature, you may discover you might run better during the afternoon or when the temperature is cooler.

There are all sorts of stats that can be culled from a training log that a runner can benefit from, as long as the information is noted each day and can be retrieved later for analysis.

For example, you may note what you ate before and after each run to determine if you experience any negative or positive side effects from a particular food item. Perhaps you discover from your log that maybe orange juice isn’t good for you before a run.

It is wise to know where you’ve been to get where you want to go by keeping a training log unless you prefer being like a traveler who gets lost, refuses to ask for directions, and doesn’t travel with a map. You will not enjoy the journey.

Happy trails!