Exercise Journal - Why you should keep track of your workouts.

Do you keep an exercise journal? You should! Keeping track of your running, lifting, cross training, and even the food you eat can be a great way to stay focused on your goals. Here are some of my top tips for keeping a quality exercise journal.

1. Find a good place to keep track of your work. Get a nice calendar book, or use an online log.
2. Set weekly goals so you have something to pursue.
3. Have an ultimate goal.
4. After you have kept an exercise journal for an extended period of time, reflect on your progress.

Want more details on each step? Superb! Let’s look at the fine print.

1. In college I kept a running log on a weekly calendar. This was what my coach John Zupanc wanted us to do, and I happily obliged. We were required to monitor three things: resting heart rate, miles ran each day, and how we felt during the run. After I graduated, I started keeping my running log online. Some of the best options out there are RunningAHEAD and dailymile. The advantage to an online running log lies in the computation power of the programs as well as the social benefits. You can participate in forums or even post your workouts on things like Facebook.

2. I am a big believer in setting goals. If you set goals for yourself, keeping and exercise journal should be a natural fit. Every week I set a goal for myself as far as fitness is concerned. When the week is finished, I analyze the goals I set and then set new goals for the upcoming week. Just make sure you set SMART running goals!

3. Part of setting goals involves having and ultimate goal. This could be a specific weight you want to reach, a race you want to complete, or a goal time for a specific race. Having an ultimate goal helps you with the previous step. Each week the small goals can help you build yourself up to achieve your ultimate goal. All of this information can be listed in your exercise journal.

4. Reflecting on your progress is an important part of almost any activity you do consistently. Looking back on seeing what works and what didn’t can help find strong points in your training. Here is an example of how you can analyze what you have done in the past. Some runners will document what they eat and then see how they felt on their runs. After they look back at how they felt on the run they can determine what foods agree with them for a run, and what ones don’t.

I hope some of these tips help you understand why writing down your workouts is so beneficial. Now get out there and go for a run. Don’t forget to write down how you did afterward.

- Written by David Tiefenthaler

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