Although I am currently involved in this self-initiated running experiment, which is sort of an anti-training-log system, I am still keeping a running log on various factors that go beyond simple time and distance.
If you really wish to figure out what is going on with your training then you need to track what you are doing on a daily basis. The more granular you get with your training log, the better you can diagnose what is working and not working in workouts. Maybe you are trying to figure out why you were so exhausted in today’s tempo run or why you rocked it out on your 50-mile bike ride with your buddies last Sunday. If you keep a log/journal then you will be able to analyze all of this data and see some patterns forming.
Now, I’m completely aware that some of us love data, while others of us aren’t as keen on analyzing it; thus, here are the basic points you should track in any training log to help you see how and why your training is going the way it currently is:
Daily Mileage: This is a no-brainer. Track the amount of daily and weekly mileage you are putting in to make sure you aren’t under or over-training.
Workout Speed/Splits: If you have certain time goals then you need to track how fast you’re moving in training workouts. Are you running too easy or too hard on recovery days? Are you hitting your correct splits in your interval and tempo workouts? I would also note the recovery or rest between speed/interval sets.
Intensity of Workout: It’s good to track how intense was the workout you did that day. Were you dragging on an easy run/ride? Were you gliding effortlessly through the water on 100-meter intervals?
Course: Where did you ride, run or swim? This is good to know. You maybe are a little tired after an “easy” ride/run because it was on a hilly course.
Basics+ would be the above factors, plus adding these factors below to your training log:
Time of Day of Workout: Are you doing double workouts and only getting 6-8 hours between training rides/runs/swims? Did you run late last night and now running early the next day? Are you running at the same time of day as when your goal race will take place?
Weather: This is good to note in a training log. A really windy, cold or hot day may slow down your workout, but for good reason.
Sleep: How much sleep are you getting? What time are you going to bed and waking up? This is a critical piece of the puzzle in your training, and sometimes overlooked.
Resting Heart Rate: Tracking your daily resting heart rate every morning when you wake up (or when you go to sleep) is an easy way to see if you’re getting into better shape or if you may need to back off a bit on the training because you’re not fully rested (or maybe be fighting some sort of virus or bacteria). For example, if you take your resting heart rate everyday for a week and it averages out to 60 bpm, then this becomes your baseline. If you see your resting heart rate slowly drop from 60 to 58 to 56 over weeks and months then it’s a good indication that you’re getting into better cardiovascular shape. But, if you find on a particular day that your resting heart rate is 70, this is usually a good indicator that your body may be fighting some sort of virus/bacteria or that you are simply not fully recovered from previous days’ workouts; thus, you need to pull back the reigns a bit on the training.
Cross-Training/Lifting: Including cross-training workouts and any strength training, yoga or fitness classes you are doing outside of your endurance regimen are good to track, so you don’t over do it.
The Full Training Monty
And for those of you who want to really get down to the nitty-gritty of your training, you’d add these factors to your log:
Food/Calories Intake: What are you eating everyday? How many calories are you eating? How much carbs versus protein are you consuming daily? Taking any supplements? Which ones? How much? How often?
Workout Heart Rate: What is your heart rate for each workout you do? This is a good indicator if you are training too hard or too easy as well.
Weight (Body Fat): Weight is not always an indication that you’re getting in better shape, but checking that you are maintaining your weight is good to do. Big drops or gains in weight in a short period of time may indicate a number of areas you want to look into (food, sleep patterns, lifting regimen, illness, etc.). Checking body fat periodically is also a good way to see how your training is going.
Sites to Keep Your Training Log On
This should give you a good foundation on how to keep track of your workouts at whatever level you wish to delve into. Below are some sites that can help you with your tracking of your endurance workouts: