WHAT I’VE LEARNED FROM TRACKING MY MILEAGE IN 2016

About a year ago, one of my friends from grade school (I went to a parochial school growing up, so yes, grade school) post a picture of her mileage log.  She had finally hit 10,000+ miles of running and had a running total of all the miles she had been running since like 2009.  I was immediately impressed.  As a closet numbers nerd, I wanted to know what she used to track her mileage and messaged her to see how she was able to track 6 years worth of mileage.

Amanda, being the awesome person she is, happily sent me a copy of her Excel spreadsheet and helped me learn all about pivot tables and keeping running (literal + figurative) totals of my mileage.  I ended up tweaking her system a little bit to make it work for me, and what I ended up with probably the best log I’ve ever used and the most consistent mileage tracking I’ve EVER done in the 15 years I’ve been running.

I’ve always been a mileage tracker.  I feel like it is such a valuable tool for seeing your progress as a runner and helping you troubleshoot things when you are feeling extra sore, run down, or injured.  I’ve used SEVERAL different ways of tracking my mileage in the past – from professional training logs I bought at Barnes + Noble, to online running trackers, to just plain old notebooks.  But, this is the first year where I really feel like I had a GREAT system in place and have used that to my advantage to really progress my training this year.

I’m actually using 2 ways of tracking my mileage (not including my weekly post here).  The first is this awesome spreadsheet I adapted from what Amanda sent me, and the second is my Plum Paper Planner that I use as more of a daily bullet journal so I know exactly what I am doing each day and WHEN it will fit into my schedule.  I like to keep everything in one spot for organizational purposes and convenience.  I really do feel that the combination of the 2 allows me to stay consistent with my training and reflect back on areas where my training suffered or if I am feeling extra aches and pains.

I think the BIGGEST takeaway from tracking my mileage consistently this past year and figuring out exactly what works BEST for me as a runner.  If you look at my training at the beginning of the year, I was averaging 102 miles per month from January to April.  In April, I ran a 1:37 half marathon after a pretty great training cycle.

From May to August, I was averaging 100 miles per month.  Not much of a change from the previous cycle, but I had also adjusted my training and started training MUCH differently than I had the previous training cycle.  My workouts were actually short, more intense, with more rest periods, but I was tacking on an extra 2-3 miles per day with warm-ups and cool downs, thinking that more mileage = faster running.

September, October, and November, I averaged 96 miles per month.  I completely adjusted the way I trained.  I was doing a lot more speed work with a lot less mileage and a lot more rest.  While the monthly average didn’t change too much, I saw my training start to change and my speed improved a TON.  Just 6 months earlier, I had run a 1:37 half marathon – in October, I set a new PR at 1:34:58.  Running LESS mileage.  November, I ran my lowest number of miles all year – a whopping 70 miles for the month – and ended up running my BEST 5K time of the year on a very hilly course at 20:06.

I would have never known these things about myself as a runner had I not been tracking my mileage consistently and keeping notes about every daily run.  I’ve had one of my best years as a runner after thinking that I had maybe reached my peak.  Reflecting on my training log this last year has also allowed me to plan for 2017, feeling confident that I can start running sub-20s consistently in the 5K, and exactly HOW I should be training since I can look back and see how I ran a 20:06 barely a month after a half marathon PR.  I now know that I can run LESS mileage (less per month than many runners run each week) and run FASTER – and know that I have much more time for myself + my family.

And now, I feel confident enough in how I’ve trained myself that I’m beginning to start training the runners I coach the same way.  Some of my training goes against normal running logic, but I am starting to feel more confident it works and now I’m ready to see how it works for my runners too.  And I’ll be encouraging them to be tracking each and every workout so that I know how they are responding and adjusting their training accordingly.

So, what you should track in your training log:

  • Your training plan and daily workouts
  • Daily, weekly, monthly, and yearly mileage totals
  • How you felt after every run
  • The weather on your run
  • Where you ran
  • Your daily running pace/time
  • Any races you completed and your time + pace for each race

Need some help on how to track your mileage?  While I swear by my daily planner and mileage spreadsheet, others might prefer different methods to track their miles.  It might take some time to figure out what works best for you, but know that it will be of a HUGE benefit for you as a runner to see exactly how to continue progressing in your training and what is holding you back from having the best year ever.

Resources for tracking your mileage:

Want to have your best year of running ever?!  Download my 2017 Runner’s Training Log!  It will automatically track your weekly, monthly, and yearly mileage!  Plus, it includes spaces to write down your daily workouts, as well as notes for how your workouts went, the weather, etc.  It also automatically shades purple (my favorite color) if you run over 15 miles per week – something for some of you newbies to strive for!  You will be amazed at how easy it is to use and how AWESOME you will feel just by keeping a great journal of all your workouts in 2017!