Half marathon training: Tip 5

Tip 5 of 9: LOG YOUR RUNS

Subconsciously comparing yourself to other runners? Social media can be toxic.

Take Instagram’s never ending feed of expensive running watches with a big pinch of salt: You can still be a fantastic runner without spending a fortune on tech.

Wearable fitness technology can range from £69.99 (Fitbit) to an eye watering £1299.99 (Garmin Descent) and you could be fooled into thinking that these will make you a better runner.

The truth is… they won’t. Perseverance and the right footwear will get you that personal best, not what you’re wearing on your wrist.

BUT I do believe that an ongoing log of your runs will impact your performance and attitude towards the sport, especially if you’re gearing up for your first half marathon. Noting small changes as your training progresses will leave you feeling satisfied your hard work is paying off, which will keep you motivated on tough days.

You can log your runs in a number of ways, either with a smartwatch or

A spreadsheet
If you’re handy with a spreadsheet this can make training plans effortless. They can be updated anywhere and having formulas recording mileage and timing can be a boost.

Your phone
There’s an abundance of running apps out there. The advantage of using a smartphone is the visuals it provides. GPS can keep you feeling fresh and excited to explore new routes.

Pen and paper
This is my personal favourite. A notebook will do the job but a running-specific journal is even better. I use the Runner’s World Training Journal (RRP £13.99)

I started using one when training began for my first half and it’s been a doddle to keep updated. All sections are clearly laid out and the entries have the perfect amount of space for notes and useful weekly tips. Being spiral bound, it won’t weigh you down like a hardback. And unlike a paperback notebook, it won’t get battered if it’s bouncing around in your bag.

What goes into the journal?

I’m not suggesting you appraise every single kilometre. Simply jotting the distance and time of each run you do is the best way I’ve monitored annual progression.

Take it a step further though, and you’ll reap the rewards in all sorts of ways. I jot down what I eat before long training runs and races. Learning what combination of fuel works with your body is essential to making those 13.1 miles painless (read more here)

I note any niggling issues or pain, the latter of which can help when you need it most. In November 2018 I ripped my hip flexor whilst fencing but didn’t realise it at the time. I carried on training but noted down the source and duration of the pain when running. When I eventually saw a physiotherapist, she read my running diary and tailored my musculoskeletal exercises and estimated recovery time accordingly.

Recording your runs in this way will identify patterns in your training. You may discover you perform better in the morning, or after a set period of rest time. As I mentioned in my post about increasing your mileage, you shouldn’t be increasing this beyond 10% each week. Using a diary can help keep tabs on this.

Don’t fixate on your finish times too much. A number of factors can influence your pace such as weather, terrain, fuel and fatigue levels. Note how all of these affect you.

Subsequently, I don’t beat myself up if a run didn’t feel great as I’m able to just flick through my backlog and see I’ve improved with each passing month. In the past 11 months, my parkrun time has plummeted from 28:31 to 23:42. Whilst I attest most of this to quitting booze, some of it is due to wising up about training needs through documentation.

  All prices correct as of 11.08.2019
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