To Journal or Not to Journal?: The Benefits of Keeping a Running Journal
As an author, I understand the lure of the written word. There’s something fulfilling about looking at a work you created with your own words and knowing that it’s finished, complete. But as a day-to-day person, I understand as well that not everything comes with a “The End” conclusion to it. Despite that ongoing quality, writing possibilities with that kind of openness throughout life can prove beneficial, useful, and gratifying. One of those options is to maintain an exercise journal that you can use so long as you’re exercising—day to day, session to session.
For running, this is true in that there are so many advantages in simply penning your running details—and those details don’t have to just be run times and distances. Anything and everything that’s connected to your run can be documented in a one-subject notebook, a journal with a key, or a file folder on your laptop. The territory of what to commit to written memory is extensive, and you might be wondering why anyone would bother sorting through those details to write down things about every run they have. It’s an extra step in the exercising process. Why bother with it?
As it happens, there are a number of reasons! For one, writing can be therapeutic since it offers a way to jot down your thoughts in an introspective way that you might not want to share with anyone. Anything that occurs on your run is free to go in your journal, even something as simple as a running partner getting on your nerves! You might not want that person to be aware of that fact, and barring someone invading your privacy, no one ever needs to know but you and your journal! You can vent that frustration without hurting anyone’s feelings, and letting go of that pressure could make the lingering feelings from your run more pleasant.
On the other hand, something that you found beautiful in a way that was too personal to share with a friend can go in your journal. You can look back on a particular sunset and appreciate it again and again in language that you might have felt a little odd sharing with a companion. This quality of remembering vivid details, sights, and feelings is one of the pleasantries of journal-keeping in general, and it can definitely extend into your run. Something as small as a breeze at the right second might have made your run a particularly enjoyable one—and it might bring a smile to your face as you read about it later. Those small, beautiful instances could ultimately lead to future inspiration should one day you feel like you just don’t want to run. If you can reminiscence about the best of running moments through your journal, the renewed memories can have you lacing up your running shoes to chase after more! The written word—even from strangers—can be inspirational!
But there’s more to a running journal than just writing to vent or remember lovely things. Believe it or not, there are also technical benefits to journaling in this regard that are worth looking into. The most basic of these benefits is keeping track of your progress as you grow as a runner. If you keep a consistent record of how long you run, how far you go, or how fast your heart beats, you can compare those numbers to your speed, distance, and heart rate after months, years, or decades of running. From this angle, the journal acts as an ongoing record of your progress, and that progress itself can be inspirational as you look back at where you were as compared to where you are now. As one source noted, “Running 20, 30, or 40 or more miles per week, month after month, is a significant accomplishment, but it’s not like building a house — we can’t see and touch our accomplishments as runners.” Since you can’t physically hold those triumphs, be sure to give enough details to them in your journal so they can offer you the best inspiration possible.
In addition, these constant looks into your running details can help you better yourself as a runner. If you notice that you suddenly take longer to run your typical route, for instance, you can consider other factors that you penned in your journal as to what might be the culprit for the lessened success. Did you change your pre-run diet? Have your sleeping patterns altered? Did you start focusing too much on the plots of your audio books to push while running? If you can find connections in the time frame to other particulars like these, you could locate the reasons behind your running struggles in order to correct them and get back to where you were in your running abilities. Once you find what’s best for you as runner, you can focus on those aspects to be the best runner you can and accomplish your goals.
Likewise, this concept can be applied to targeting reasons for injuries. If you alter your running just a bit, then get injured, you could assume that the change is the reason. If you look through your journal and find that the scenario has happened more than once—that change prefacing an injury—you’ve officially uncovered a pattern that could be problematic for you. Specifically, maybe you only experience that ankle injury when you run up a particularly rocky incline. Once you find that pattern, adjusting your run to lower the possibility of dealing with that same injury could be within reach by something as simple as deciding not to run in a certain spot. You’re healthier with that change, and you don’t have to deal with the down-time from an injury, thanks to your journal!
You can also make notes about less obvious aspects of your running, like when you purchased your running gear. While that might seem like an unnecessary factor to note, knowing when you bought your gear can help you decide how long things lasted by the time you needed to replace them. That way, you can better assess each product’s quality to know if you should stick with a certain brand or object, or switch your running gear preferences. These are little benefits, but they’re very real when it comes time to open your wallet and spend your cash on new running shoes!
Overall, a running journal can help to keep you safer, more motivated, and more financially stable. Considering all of these benefits, why not spend the time, and maybe minimal cash, to make it happen?