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Wagner: Logs essential for training, planning

Running hasn't always been something I enjoyed. It first served as a means to end: For a few months at a time, my daily stop at the gym would end with a half hour on the treadmill to shave off a few unwanted pounds. Even the commitment and prepar...

Running hasn't always been something I enjoyed.

It first served as a means to end: For a few months at a time, my daily stop at the gym would end with a half hour on the treadmill to shave off a few unwanted pounds.

Even the commitment and preparation required for a team relay event didn't turn me into a runner. But then the accomplishment and satisfaction of finishing that first race in May 2007 changed me.

And while the commitment to run then seemed natural, it took a long time for me to see myself as a runner, and almost as long to feel like one.

But that has become part of my evolution.

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A relatively insignificant event last week drove the point home.

For two years I've marked every run into a training log - writing down essential details such as mileage, times and paces for key efforts and occasionally factors affecting my performance, good or bad.

After filling my second year-long log, it was imperative that I find another soon.

As odd as it sounds, I've been searching for the perfect training log. Especially odd since my Garmin watch syncs with my computer and automatically downloads each workout.

As great as technology can be, my routine as a runner has been to log workouts on paper when I get home.

While computer software allows us to analyze our workouts, there's still something I like about writing mine down with a ballpoint pen.

So when I found one to my liking at a local running store, I arrived home feeling a sense of accomplishment.

Why is keeping a diary of workouts so important to me?

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It serves as a road map for my training and an easy birds-eye reference to my progress.

Once I sign up for a race, the task of coming up with specifics of a training plan can be daunting.

I count weeks backwards from the race date and pencil in workouts to make following the plan easier.

As the days and weeks pass, completed workouts are written in ink.

Much of the most important data can be recorded on the computer but the simplicity of the old fashioned method appeals to me.

As my running progresses, the training log is more than just a place to tabulate numbers. It provides a forum to write down key factors - sleep, nutrition, injuries or the weather - that might have made a workout particularly good or bad.

Knowing and remembering those factors help me keep a level perspective on workouts. There's often a really good reason when a workout goes bad. My training log helps me from getting down on myself.

And, on the flip side, it provides good reasons when things are much easier than they should be.

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As I cumulate miles and race experience, keeping a running diary has been invaluable in race preparation.

Before my most recent adventure at the Twin Cities Marathon, it was data from the training log that provided the perfect model for workouts - both in distance and intensity - in the two-week taper period.

Now, with another marathon three months away, my running logs - both past and current - will play a key role in my preparation for race day.

Inform searchword: running

Forum News Director Steve Wagner writes a running blog, which can be found at www.areavoices.com/runningspud .

He can be reached at (701) 241-5542 or swagner@forumcomm.com .

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