Quick Tip: My First Six Months of Keeping a Running Journal

Before the start of this year, I did not keep a running journal.

All I did before this year was write down how many miles I ran on the days that I would run, and that was pretty much it. Every once in awhile I’d also write down what the workout was for the day, but there were never any notes about how I was feeling, what my mental state was like, or anything else that might have been considered useful.

I knew that there were benefits of keeping a running journal, I just didn’t do it.

One of my goals for 2016 was to start a running journal and keep better notes on each of my workouts this year in case I ever needed to reflect back on them in the future.

Recent Entry to My Running Journal

Recent Entry to My Running Journal

A couple of weeks ago, Julie sent me a note suggesting that I share a little progress update on how I’m doing with my journaling and any ways that my method of documenting my training has changed since I started my running journal back in January.

Sounded like a great topic for a quick tip episode, so here we are.

(Speaking of which, I’m always open to any suggestions for quick tip topics. If you a specific topic you’d be interested in hearing me tackle on the show, just ask!)

The Early Days of My Running Journal

When it comes to journaling, running or otherwise, please remember there is no such thing as a right way or a wrong way. There is only your way.

It is my belief that the key to a successful running journal is finding a method or system of journaling that works for you. And often, the method that works for you is something that you’ll stumble into over time.

My running journal is nothing fancy, and it’s not a journal specifically for runners.

My Running Journal

My Running Journal

It is simply a notebook full of blank pages.

No prompts. No nothing.

Just room for me to write whatever I wanted about that particular run.

And that is pretty much what I did for the first few months of my journaling. I’d put the date and the number of miles I ran that day, and then I’d just write about my run.

Somedays I’d fill close to a page, others it would be little more than a sentence.

But if I was going to keep a running journal, then by God every run I did was going to be recorded and documented so that I’d be able to reference if needed.

I Needed a Structure

By mid-March, regularly writing in my running journal was starting to feel tedious. It almost became more of a pain in the ass than it seemed to be worth.

Instead of giving up completely, I decided to try coming up with a bit more of a structured layout for my journaling. I figured if I made it a bit more formulaic, not only would I be “forced” to provide more insight from each run but it would also be a little easier to write than the free form journaling that I had been doing to that point.

I decided on a list of bullets/topics/writing prompts that I was going to include with each entry from that point on:

  • Date
  • Total Mileage
  • Route
  • Overall Impression of the Run
  • Aches/Pains
  • Weather/Environment
  • Mental
  • Fuel/H2O
  • Other

Nothing is Ever Set in Stone


Having a structure to follow for each entry in my running journal has definitely helped, but over the past few months the structure has changed slightly.

I know make sure to record the time of day that I’m running.

And at the suggestion of Teal Burrell, I’ve also made a point to try and identify a highlight from each run. The highlights can be something running related, though it doesn’t have to be, but the goal is for the highlight to help me to stay more in the moment and really experience my run more fully.

I’ve also stopped creating a journal entry every time I run.

When I started, and for most of the first 4+ months, I was creating a specific entry in the running journal for every run.

On the surface, that seems like the best practice right? I mean, if I really want an accurate representation of what my running looked like in 2016 I need to have all of my runs documented.

But here’s the thing. I do a lot of easy runs, and filling out all of the same bits of information for my short/easy runs is pretty ridiculous.

I mean, there is only so much I can write about a 2 miler in my neighborhood on Monday morning.

So I now have a big of a guideline for what runs I document in my running journal.

  • Long Runs
  • Hard Workouts
  • Runs When Something Doesn’t Feel “Right”
  • When Recovering from Injury

And that’s pretty much it. At this point, that means that I’m typically only journaling 2-3 times per week. And as long as I stay healthy, I think that’s the right mix for me.

But if I change my mind in the future, it’s all good. Because my running journal is a tool for me, and the way that I use it is definitely subject to change at my whim.

Do You Keep a Running Journal?

If you do, I’d love to see a page or two of your running journal if you’re keen to share it! If not, no worries.

And if you don’t keep a running journal, I’d definitely encourage you to give it a shot. Feel free to follow the structure that I employ, and then adjust it as you go to suit your tastes and needs.

But having something you can reflect back upon months or even years later can definitely be a good way to relive past glories or learn from past mistakes.

Either way, my only regret is that I didn’t start my running journal sooner!

A look at the evolution of my running journal over the past six months. #runchat Click To Tweet

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