Tracking Training (my probably not super efficient system).

I don’t use a paper and pen calendar for appointments and reminders. I do have a paper desk calendar at work but it is used for three things, mainly:

1) taking notes when I can’t find a post-it
3) performing embarrassingly rudimentary mathematical calculations
2) counting down the days until races (the running kind of course)

I work with a few people and have socially heard many others talk about not being able to trust technology enough to give up their day-planners and Bic pens.

I  have a hard time understanding this sentiment. I love being able to book appointments, and set reminders, and manage just about everything in my professional life from my phone, and then open my computer and viola! There it all is, chiming and dinging away.

Also, it’s not very convincing when you flake on a meeting and your excuse is “er, I forgot to look in my day-planner this morning” or “um, sorry, I forgot, I’ve just been soooo busy!”

Everyone’s always too busy, and really tired, so the paper and pen calendar/planner excuses will always make you look bad.

But the “I am so distraught, my phone and computer aren’t sinking!” or “I’m so sorry I missed out meeting/call/pep talk, but iCloud isn’t working right, again!” not only makes you look really technologically savvy, but efficient as well.


Source article: "Trapper Keeper Reborn"

Source article: “Trapper Keeper Reborn”

This combo concept sort of doesn’t compute…too much logistics talent needed.

Where I become a hypocrite in this declaration of paperless love, is when it comes to tracking my marathon training. (Well, I also carry a notebook, ALWAYS, even though I could also take notes in my phone. Notebooks are still far more socially accepted in meetings than smart phones are, at least in my field…iPad would be great, and I’d ditch the notebook, but infuriatingly my 1st generation iPad operates too slow, already.)

I enjoy the process of designing my own custom training plan templates and building my plans within them. I know a lot of people who do this via web-based programs and apps, but the danger for me there is that I would be referring to it constantly at the cost of other tasks I should be doing. So I keep a binder at home.

I have a Garmin GPS watch and so have access to their Garmin Connect website and software. But really I only use that interface when I want to show off splits that are either really good or really bad.

For example, here’s how NOT to run the back half of a marathon, courtesy of Garmin Connect:

Lap, Split, Distance

Lap, Split, Distance

The saving grace of this huge positive split race effort was that it was both a PR and my new-standards BQ.

Anyway, I sync my Garmin up with my computer after each training run, so the splits, distance, and map are all there for reference if needed. But in terms of other useful variables, rather than type them out and store them digitally, I write whichever variables I want to look at over particular training cycle on a hard (paper) copy of my training plan. Right now I check off the elements of the plan I completed, then I record: hours slept, weight, outside temp., time of run, average pace (if applicable), and often a general comment of how the run felt.

training log sample

Yes, that is correct, I choose my color schemes to match the goal race.

This training cycle I have 3 weeks  of my training plan to a page. This is for two reasons:

1)  that’s just how the formatting worked out when I adjusted the template to include the elements I wanted this go-round.

2) I only build my plan 3 weeks at a time. This way I can adapt my training based on how the previous 3 weeks worth of key workouts went.


It’s like having a coach, except that I don’t have to pay one, and instead of a highly-qualified professional writing my plan I have me, with an arsenal of books, google searches, performance predicting calculators, and my binder/Excel work-book of previous training efforts.

Totally equal. Totally.

I get the sense of accomplishment out of flipping through pages and writing on them that others probably get out of having a day-planner.

At times sheets can get a little messy:

Actually, I guess this was pretty tidy...(and 2 months ago)

Actually, I guess this was pretty tidy…(and 2 months ago)

I have a binder that is getting close to qualifying as a scrap book.

Every Sunday (and sometimes mid-week if I need a morale booster, or some motivation), I plug the information from my training log into an excel work-book where I have stats from each of my 4 full marathon training cycles completed to-date.  I don’t transfer all the information from the log to excel, just the elements I want to compare to other cycles, or track trends over time.

Excel data shot B2013

Sometimes after a rough run, or when work, weather, or my body forced an unplanned rest day, coming up with new comparison graphs, or looking at improvements over time can be huge confidence builder.

I might finally have a training cycle that differentiates from all the others!

I might finally have a training cycle that differentiates from all the others!

I have found myself frequently this training cycle going back to the Garmin uploaded workouts from the same day of training or same workout from last year and comparing splits. Which is fun in practice, but not super useful as my training strategy is pretty different, so only race results will really determine effectiveness and fitness levels.

So to re-cap here’s my process/system for tracking my training. (totally evolved from how I did things a few years ago, and I’m sure to look back from a much different system years from now):

  1. Design template with specific elements to track across training cycle.
  2. Review progress and build next phase of training plan every 3 weeks.
  3. Print and add to big binder of running joy.
  4. Fill in daily stat’s.
  5. Weekly transfer: daily mileage, daily weight, weekly mileage, long run distance to excel.
  6. Compare key workouts when appropriate to prior efforts splits using the Garmin software.

So there it is. A rather stream-of-consciousness account of my tracking system.

Several people asked. And now you have received.

If you want a copy of my template just holla’ and I’ll email it to you.




One response to “Tracking Training (my probably not super efficient system).

  1. Pingback: Whiskider will probably not make me skinny, or faster. | Fluency's Folly


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