Keeping a log …

Do you record your runs? Is it important to record your runs; distances, routes, pace, times?

I’m not sure there is a right or wrong answer to this question. I suppose the answer wholly depends on why you run. Do you run just to get out of the house; or like me, to file away all of the days’ strife and stresses? Or do you run because you like a challenge? Are you training for a 5k, 10k, or half marathon (or more?!). If you run just because you like running, and getting out of the house, then I’m not sure it’s worth the effort…just because you didn’t record it doesn’t mean that you didn’t run, and it doesn’t mean you didn’t burn those calories!

Keeping a record of all of your runs though does mean that you can see how you’re progressing. One thing is for sure, is that if you do run, and run regularly, you will get faster, and you will get fitter; your times will drop, and you runs will get longer. If you don’t record your runs, you’ll never know this. You may feel it (your body won’t hurt as much after a run, or that hill you always walked up – you’ll manage to run the whole thing one day!), but how can you be sure? In this post, I’m just going to go through some of the ways you can record your runs, and what simple, yet useful information you can draw from the information you gather. Oh – and – MAPS!

The simplest way to keep a record of your runs is to simply check what time you left, check what time you get back, and see how long your run took and jot them all down on a piece of paper. In all honesty, even if you don’t know how far you’re running, if you run the same route faster in a week’s time, you know you’re getting a little bit fitter. A week later, and you’ve shaved another 25 seconds from that route – marvellous! Keep it going! If you’re anything like me, you’ll find running the same route three times a week boring, and so keeping track becomes difficult – how can you compare two runs on different routes when you don’t know how far you ran? You just can’t. That’s fine though – this is where technology comes!

Now, I’ll admit – I’m a total and utter geek! I love gadgets, technology, mobile phones, and computers (“hey, I thought this was a running blog?!”). The great thing is, I can combine my geekdom with running, strap a phone to my arm, and have GPS track me wherever I go! If you have a smartphone, then chances are its running iOS, Android or Windows phone. If it is, then there is a wealth of health and fitness apps that you can use. I always use Nike+ - mainly because I have been for about 7 years now, and all of my run info is logged with Nike+. There are now however, plenty of apps to track your runs. They all, including Nike+ – have up sides and downsides. I’m not going to go into the ins and out of all of them as there are countless blogs dedicated to that sort of thing already, but I will just give you an idea of what I do.

When I first started running, I bought myself an arm band for my phone, strapped it to my arm, and went running. When I started the run, I hit the big “GO” button, and when I finished the run, I hit “FINISHED”. During the run, the Nike+ robot voice will give you updates every mile about your distance, time and pace. Very useful if you have targets to hit! Once you’d hit the FINISHED button, the Nike+ robot voice would then give you all of your run information “5 miles completed. Time: 50 minutes 50 seconds. Average Pace: 10 minutes, 10 seconds”. And if you were lucky, an American sports start you’d never heard of would gee you up with a congratulatory message – nice touch! I once beat my PB for the mile (it’s not a time to write home about), and Paula Radcliffe congratulated me; it was really cool to hear actually, even if it was a voice clip stored on my phone! You can then go back and look at a map of your run if you have GPS enabled! My favourite ever map is below (I know…this guys has a favourite map?!)

Yep – I ran through the sea! Okay – so the tide was out. I did get wet feet though.

These days, I’ve moved on from a phone, and spent a small fortune on a TomTom Multisport cardio sports watch! And I must admit I love it! Despite the fact having a phone strapped to my arm had never actually bothered me, getting a watch made having a phone on my arm feel like I was running around with a ruck sack on! Now, with the TomTom on, I simply click a few buttons, wait for it to find GPS (gives a little beep when it’s happy to go) and away I go.

Gareth TOM TOM

I don’t get any feedback when I’m running now, but I can easily check distance quickly by simply checking my wrist.
The watch provides some basic info on the run (distance, pace, time, cals burned), but when I sync it up to my phone, all the info comes alive. I get a map, a split of times for every mile, which was my fastest / slowest miles, my elevation at any given moment, the total elevation gain of the whole run, my heartrate; enough stats to make a statistician jealous! All for one run! You can get overwhelmed by all of the stats to be honest, but if you just concentrate on the important ones, you can actually really get some insights into your running. Do you run better in the morning or at night? Do you run enough hills (we all hate hills, but you’ve got to prep for them – we do live in Wales after all)? I actually noticed recently that on my regular 10k, that I was only climbing 70ft…there’s not many places in Wales where you can run 10k and only climb 70ft I’m pretty sure! It led me to realise though that I needed to try to incorporate more hills into my runs so that if, if I decided to enter a race any time soon, I wouldn’t be caught out by the first hill! (I’ve since started running with a trail running group, and in last week’s run, we climbed over 1100ft in 7 miles! More about that in my next blog though!).

Well, that’s a little insight into what I get up to. I’m not saying what I do is better or worse than anything anyone else does. Just find what makes you happy, and roll with it!