Appreciating The Old School, Pen & Paper Running Log [journal entry ]

running journal
running journal

Ever since I began running regularly, I’ve wanted to log my runs and chart my progress. At first I only wanted a way to look back at the distance and frequency of my runs (and also to view the infrequency of my runs in order to guilt trip myself back into my trainers and out the door). A simple running app allowed me to do this easily, and I was satisfied for several months.

Later, I wanted to record other aspects of my fitness, such as strength training sessions and sleep. I wanted the ability to look back at good running days and bad, and then determine what factors were impacting my running. A few apps and services seemed to work for this, because they’d share data and allow me to put it all in one place for me. RunKeeper and FitnessSyncer became my personal go-tos.

Again, I was satisfied for several months, but…

Now I’m trying to boost my game again, and I’ve realized I need a more hands-on approach to recording my runs and everything related to my fitness.

What I don’t like about apps and services that I’ve looked at is that, for one, I simply don’t like the way the data are presented to me. Data are not useful if they aren’t easy to make sense of. And honestly, a lot presentation is a matter of personal preference, so I really need to just do this myself and not reply on other people’s apps and services.

Which brings me to my second point: A lot of my favorite apps and services just don’t play nice together these days.

do it yourself

So I decided that the best tools are old-school pen & paper. But how to go about creating a running log for myself?

The answer was to not create a stale “running log” at all. Rather, I needed to create a running journal.

I already journal a lot, and I have for years. Over time my personal journals have evolved from diary style things into a mish-mash of to-do lists, day planning, putting thoughts on paper, and collecting other mental ephemera that might come out during the course of a journaling session.

So why not apply the same free-style approach to a running-specific journal?

I went online and discovered that a lot of runners create flexible, eclectic running journals and share their creations online. Check out some terrific examples HERE HERE and HERE.

messy starts are your friend

My current running journal is my first, so it’s messy as hell. There is a lot of stuff scratched out, some of the entries are out of order, and it contains more than a few few torn-out pages. And that’s OK because I’m still figuring my running journal out. It’s liberating to give myself permission to make a mess, and figure it out as i go along.

On top of that, I have a “messy note taker” approach to journaling anyhow. This means I’ll never, ever have anything as pretty and tidy as what some others share via Instagram and Pintrest. That’s OK too. I’m doing this for me, and not for anyone else.

Even a few weeks into it, I’m already glad I’ve started a running journal. I enjoy the simple act of recording more than my runs and workouts—I include notes regarding how I felt during and after my runs, if think I’m fighting off and illness, what the weather was like, sleep, and anything else that might come to mind.

I enjoy dedicating a page for tracking desired habits, charting mileage put on my running shoes, and cataloging running and fitness related reading I’ve done. There’s also something to be said for writing out a training plan, rather than just printing it off—and so I have included that in my journal too.

In short, I’m enjoying the act of recording my running journey my way, and on my terms.

do you journal?

If this is something you do, or are considering doing, feel free to share any thoughts, tips, or ideas in the comments section below.

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