Organize Your Training

by Jon Sinclair

The runner who decides on the day's workout on the way out the door needs to rethink their overall training schedule. Organization of a runners overall program will be greatly enhanced by the use of a daily log which can provide a great deal of information necessary to guiding an overall running program. Using a daily log can help in a number of ways.

Once the runner has decided on a set of goals (weekly, monthly, yearly) and developed a periodized program to meet those goals, then the next step is to decide on a daily schedule which is compatible with the life of the individual. When developing that daily schedule, certain principles and patterns need to be followed. For example, the runner should schedule a hard day followed by an easy day. The hard days are going to include such workouts as the long run, hill workouts, tempo runs, and interval training. How those fit into an overall progression in a training program needs to be thought out carefully. Sometimes it is important to think in terms of alternate weeks: for example, hard week/ easy week or long run every other week. Periodization calls for certain types of workouts to follow a progession that builds in a cyclical manner toward a specific goal.

Each runner should assess work schedules, family commitments, and time of year when thinking about organizing training. What day really works the best for the long run? What day is the best to take completely off or to engage in some other activity? What day(s) are condusive to doing a hard workout allowing for recovery and adequate rest? What time of day is best to run? What time of year allows for good weather conditions and adequate training time?

The running log can help quantify and qualify the program of organized training the runner has decided upon. Using a log can help the runner to see if they are achieving the goals set out by their schedule. The log allows the athlete to compare the ideal to the real. "Here's what I want to do; here's what I am doing."

What should go into a log and how should I use It? Logs are a personal matter much like a diary. So each log is going to be unique and reflection the individual. However, logs should have the following:

  1. The daily log should, of course, record the days run in terms of miles, kilometers, or minutes run.
  2. Time of day can be important information. Did a particular run go better in the afternoon as compared to the morning. Some days might be double runs, one in the morning and one if the afternoon. Record it as such.
  3. Weather conditions can be important when looking back over a training program. Several days of very cold weather can impact volume and quality of a running program. That information can help to explain where you are now and perhaps how you need to adjust a future schedule.
  4. Perceived feeling regarding a workout can help evaluate how a program is going. "Felt great; run went very well" says that training is falling into place. "Feeling tired, sore, dragged out, whipped puppy" can mean a need for more rest and a reevaluation of the next days scheduled run or workout.
  5. Personal notes perhaps unrelated to running can give the athlete a picture of where they were, who they were with, what other things were going on in their lives which can help identify a time period in an overall schedule.
  6. Keep weekly totals of mileage or time run. As the runner increases volume or cuts back to quality, this number will greatly help the runner to see where they are. It also helps the runner to see if they are increasing mileage too quickly. Some runners keep a bar chart of weekly mileage which allow the runner to visually see how the volume is developing.
  7. Sometimes monthly and yearly mileage totals can assist the runner in seeing patterns that lead to success, injury, overtraining, and illness.

Essentially, organizing your training is the process of using sound principles and translating those ideas to a daily, weekly, monthly, yearly program that is concretely planned within the overall context of goals or challenges set for oneself.