Whether you are an experienced runner or just starting out, keeping a running log is one way to improve your efforts. A running log will offer many benefits while providing you with important feedback. It may also serve as an early warning system regarding injury or illness. Most importantly, running logs serve as a good visual reminder of your progress and provide you with motivation.
I spent the first year of my running journey, just running. No goal, no training and never worrying about keeping track. In October of 2007 I started keeping a running log. A simple google search lead me to a free on-line service, RunningAhead. (Feel free to search for my log under the community section of the site. User name RunJunkee). Since using the site, I've logged over 4,300 miles. I know, I know...I'm due for an oil change! It's hard to believe I've logged that many miles. Even though I've only done so for a short time, I enjoy going back and reliving some of those runs.
There are many good sites similar to Runningahead. Map my Run, Buckeye Outdoors, Dailymile, MarathonReady, RunnersWorld and many many more. (Feel free to leave your favorite in the comments section below). Many of these are free and some offer 'donations' to help keep them free.
I'm all about sharing my efforts, whether you are looking or not. I can think of countless times when out running that I would think about the entry I would make on my running log. What my pace would be, where my mile total would be for the week, etc. Looking back at my log week to week or month to month, I find that I am motivating and influencing myself to improve. Improve my pace, types of runs or overall total for that period.
A site like Dailymile is more of a social networking site. It allows you to log your mileage while sharing it with other people (your non running facebook friends will appreciate this). No one will get sick of your daily "look at me" updates. Dailymile keeps track of some fun stats as well; how many cheeseburgers you've earned or donuts, how much gas you've saved and the percentage of the Earth you've covered.
In addition to logging miles, many of these sites allow you to track your diet, equipment (such as miles on your shoes), your effort, type of run and the quality of your run. Most of these conveniently sync with Garmin, Nike plus, I-Phone and Android Apps. But fear not, you don't have to have the geeky tech gear to track your miles. Many of these sites have a mapping feature, usually google maps, that allows you to map out your run before you step out the door. I try to map out my route before I leave and make sure everyone else knows where I will be going.
So fall in love with the log and discover it's many benefits. Just think someday when you are getting wheeled around the nursing home your log will provide you with countless hours of entertainment.