Looking Back

It’s now January 2nd and I closed out my 2019 training log.  This may seem over-the-top to many, but I keep a daily log of all my training, I then total things up each month and compile it for the year.  I have over 25 years of these logs.  What I track has evolved but over the past 15 years I’ve consistently logged running miles and running equivalents (mostly water running and StairMaster) and whether I’ve lifted weights or done form drills.  At the end of the month I total all this up along with number of races run, total racing distance, and average weight based upon 10-12 weigh-ins per month.  It’s an Excel spreadsheet that both records past activity and projects to the end of the year.  Excel calculates the average and median for all the categories for the prior three and 15 years and I compare that to the current year.  

It’s really not that much work to keep this up and it’s great for looking back.   It’s also functions as a roadmap — I plan for the upcoming year by month and update it based on actual monthly totals.  As much time as I spend working out, adding a couple minutes a day to track myself seems a small investment. 

So, looking through the 2019 log, here’s some of what I observed:

  1. Ran 8% more total miles than in 2018, well within the 10% rule
  2. Ran 212 days and averaged 7.0 miles a day, in spite of a couple months of injury recovery
  3. Ran 36 days of 10 miles or longer
  4. Ran 34 days of timed track intervals or tempo runs
  5. Worked out 365 days (yes, everyday! – the first time I recall that happening)
  6. Ran only 14 races covering 100 miles, running no races in November and December.  I generally run about 20 races a year.
  7. Performed form drills 113 days and lifted weights (and stretched) 274 days
  8. My average monthly weight varied only 1.5 lbs. over the course of the year

What I don’t do is compare the yearly totals to the beginning of year projections.  As the year unfolds things change, injuries present themselves for varying amounts of time, and if I obsess over missing a goal, it’s an invitation for things to go awry and become a slave to numbers.  It’s actually much more beneficial to look back over the year and see patterns.  For example, what led up to an injury or a particularly good or poor race.

In the back of the log, I keep a report on each race, including pace for each mile (thanks to my trusty Garmin!), what felt good and worked well and what didn’t.  And finish with takeaways to inform training going forward.  You might think after 40 years of running, there’s nothing new to learn.  Maybe I’m a slow learner!  But as we age, nothing is the same with our running, so each year is in fact a new learning experience.

The 2020 roadmap is set to go.  I’m projecting to increase mileage by another 8%, run 18 races and work out every day!  Time will tell how that plays out.  If you don’t keep a log, I encourage you to try it.  You might be surprised by what you observe!

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