Being a running is probably one of the smartest choices I have made – after marrying my wife, of course. We runners are many things: competitive, fit, focused, obsessed to name only few. Our competitiveness, though, is mostly with ourselves and our past performances. We always want to do better – anything to show that all of our training is paying off. But that doesn’t mean, however, that if there is another runner a few feet ahead of us, near the finish line, we won’t try to beat ’em out!
For us runners to know where we are at in our running development and where we need to improve, we have become fixated on our own running statistics. Talk to a runner about her/his last race, and you might think you are talking to a baseball announcer about Derek Jeter’s batting average against the Boston Red Sox. To be sure, labeling serious weekend warrior runners, as fanatical, is an understatement.
Clearly, I am no different in this respect than the elite runners who win local races here on Long Island, albeit my times are considerably slower. For 11 1/2 years now, I have been keeping track of all my workouts in an Excel spreadsheet.
To date, there are 4,673 entries (lines) in my main worksheet called Training. Here I track every run: date, time, day of the week, location/description, mileage, shoe mileage (miles logged on my current pair of running shoes), time, pace (minutes per mile) and comments for every workout. Each workout is color coded to show whether it was an outdoor run, treadmill, bike, elliptical, resistance, etc. Organized events (races) are highlighted in bright lime green.
I also have a worksheet called Races – here I track specifics related to races I have participated in. Since November 2001, there have been 253 races which I have finished. In this worksheet, I track: the race name, date and time, distance, chip time and pace. Should I achieve a PR (personal record or otherwise known as a personal best), it is duly noted as is if I may have won an award in my age group (regrettably, there are not many notations for those).
Of all the races I have been in, most (118) have been 5Ks (5 kilometers or approximately 3.1 miles). There have been 36 four milers, 29 10Ks, 24 five milers, 14 half marathons, 7 15Ks and 6 marathons. The performances I am most pleased with are:
- a PR on 4/28/12 – 4 miler – pace of 8:20
- a PR at the 2012 Long Half Marathon in 2 hours 2.5 minutes
- a PR at the 2007 Hartford Marathon in 4.5 hours
These days I still keep track of my running activity, but I am much less fixated on times, etc. It had always been the game I played with myself to log daily workout activity and not the workout. That way it made it easier to get out the door on the days I wasn’t feeling it.
If you want to get better at something you need to know where you’ve been to best calculate how you’ll get where you want to be. Running is definitely one such endeavor where this is true. It is also fun to keep track of your progress. Keeping track of your runs enables you to concretely know when you’ve had an exceptional day at the races or on a workout – Makes that treat afterwards all the more sweeter!
See you on the roads.
Ira Bellach is an avid recreational runner, living on Long Island for the past 25 years. He is a member of the Greater Long Island Runners Club, where he is an active volunteer to support local running events.