How To Track Your Running Improvements
Running is one of those exercises that is great for mind, body and soul. It’s also one of those activities that comes naturally to many people and it has been that way since the beginning on time when man generally only had to run to escape large creatures that wanted to eat him.
These days though, we don’t need to run away from predators so much and running has become more of a competitive or recreational activity. For recreational runners, the daily sprint in the neighborhood can seem a little mundane and you may very well think that apart from keeping you fit, it’s not really doing anything else for you.
That’s when a diary can help. We humans are very visual creatures and we like to see progress. What better way than in written form? Before you give up, track your running improvements with a diary so you can see exactly what is really going on with your favorite daily activity.
1. Set Your Goals
Committing your goals to written form gives you a clear idea of what you want to do and what you want to achieve. You can also put together a clear plan of where and how you want to run. Many people need this clear and detailed plan to go ahead. Simply putting on your running shoes may work in the beginning, but it’s not always easy to stick to a random format. By writing down your goals and devising a plan, you are more likely to stick to a routine. This will help you to stay on track and get the most out of running.
2. Identify Patterns
Keeping a diary of your runs will help you identify patterns. Write down how you feel before, during and after each run. By doing this, you’ll know when you run at your best and which routes you prefer. This will also give you an indication of how fast and far you run, depending on the time of day, as well as how it affects you mentally. Identifying these patterns may also help you determine what has been holding you back.
3. Own Your Running
By committing yourself to a diary, you are also owning your running and making yourself accountable. It’s almost the same as having a personal trainer who will remind you when to run and it will stare you straight in the face when you don’t run. If you didn’t go for a run, you will need to note the reason for skipping your daily exercise. You may be able to get away with being a little lazy one day, but you’ll soon realize that you can’t keep making diary entries and making excuses.
4. Stay Motivated
Don’t just track your running in your diary. Make notes of thinks like improved muscle tone, body measurements and how you feel after each run. You may only be able to run for 20 minutes when you first start out and after a while when you can run for much longer, you’ll see the results for yourself. None of us wants to run every day for nothing so seeing improvements in your body and increased fitness and stamina is all the motivation you will need to keep going.
5. Better Performance
When you first start out with a regular running schedule, it can be quite hard. You may only be able to manage for 10 minutes or so, depending on your fitness levels. By recording how long each run lasts in your diary, you will notice a steady increase in your running endurance. Make sure you also record how you feel. With each run and each diary entry, you will see a fast improvement in your running performance and running times.
6. Make Note Of Any Obstacles And Injuries
Did you try running up a really steep incline only to pull a hamstring? Is it too difficult to run in bad weather? Keep a note of anything that stopped you from running or slowed you down. If you did injure yourself, keep note of what hurts and how long it took to return to running after injury. In terms of weather, you may find it next to impossible to run during hay fever season or if you tried running on a stiflingly hot day.
Illness is also a fact of life so make note of any illnesses that stopped you from taking your daily run. It’s also important to jot down how you feel when you resume running. Were you able to endure for the full time you usually run, or did you need to take it easy? By making note of these obstacles you are more able to deal with them. If it means you need to take it a little easier for a few days it is still better than not doing anything. If running is uncomfortable, you can also go for a brisk walk.
7. Take Advantage Of Technology
If the concept of writing everything down on a piece of paper or a notebook makes you cringe, take advantage of the many fitness apps available and download one to your smartphone. An app such as MyFitnessPal or FitDiary will help you record things like the distance and time you run and many include step counters to give you some pretty exact statistics. With some apps you can even make note of your heart rate which will make it easier for you to see the health benefits of running.
There are also free online websites that offer similar tracking options. Check out DailyMile.com or MapMyRun.com. If these don’t suit you, there are many more you can search for that may be more tailored to your needs.
By tracking your running improvements in a diary, you will be able to compare your successes and your failures at a glance. This will help you identify what motivates you to keep going, and the things that may hold you back. More than anything, it can help you get the most out of running and actually enjoying it.