So, How Many Hats Do You Wear?

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Pensacola, Florida, United States
Husband. *Dog Dad.* Instructional Systems Specialist. Runner. (Swim-challenged) Triathlete (on hiatus). USATF LDR Surveyor. USAT (Elite Rules) CRO/2, NTO/1. RRCA Rep., FL (North). Observer Of The Human Condition.

Thursday, January 24, 2013

Good Running, Good Records

"You're going to WHAT!?"

In the month since I made a resolution to 'resist more,' I have received a few funny looks and one or two shocked comments from the people closest to me.  My wife is used to a certain degree of over-dedication after eight-plus years of marriage.  My passing comment over Sunday brunch was something along the lines of, "I'll have to limit myself to one beer; I'm going to put some time in on the rowing ergometer at the gym and watch the football game."

"That's obsessive," said Teri, our mutual friend and training companion, to which I replied, "That's correct."  I guess it takes an obsessive character to recognize a person with similar traits.  Teri and my wife are alike in their minimalist attitude; forget any big, fancy GPS, heart rate-tracking, number-crunching gadget...a running watch, perhaps, but little more.  On the other hand, she constantly badgers me at the tail-end of every Sunday morning group run, to find out exactly how far we ran. 

Teri knows the exact distance of the other run routes she does during the week, but we rotate between different venues and loops for our weekend run.  I like to throw a little monkey-wrenching into their training regimes; a hill here, a grass trail there.  Suzanne told me, "it's for her spreadsheet.  She tracks every run she does.  Teri's recordkeeping is not as obsessive-compulsive as yours, but she comes close."

Good record-keeping, in my humble opinion, leads to good running.  An injury is more often the outcome of a sudden change in training - in distance, in intensity, in terrain - or the failure to heed a warning sign, like the "death" of a favorite pair of shoes.  Once a runner has the essential gear and the essential information available, it's time to start storing it in a way which lets the information tell the running story.  I used to use a spiral-bound running log (John Jerome's The Runner's Training Log) which provided blocks for each day's run, with some great event distance pace information and macro-level charts (miles/hours per week/month) in the appendices.  Tracking distance (kilometers/miles), duration (minutes/hours) and intensity (heart rate/perceived effort), as well as other little specifics about location was simple.

What was hard was the number juggling involved to keep track of shoe mileage.  One pair of shoes is simple, naturally.  Two pairs also isn't all that tough.  But if you're trying to rotate in or out more than one pair, or in my case rotating three pairs, it might take a little more computing power.  That's when I stumbled upon David Hays' Running Log; a Microsoft Excel spreadsheet which was laden with bells and whistles.  Seemed simple enough to use; enter the date, distance, time, average heart rate, pair of shoes you wore, run type, and comments like daily weight.  Clank, hoot...I've got paces, mileage totals, mileage on shoes, trend weight, and so on, and so on.  Not so bad for the first year, except for the fact the file became more unwieldy around October or November...too much data.  And then you had to start with a fresh log next year.
So now I use a greatly simplified spreadsheet, which consists of three sections:
The first section has the date, planned workout time, type of workout (swim, bike, row, run, or lift), the distance in yards or miles, and the time spent.  This allows me to track how much time I spend compared to my goal for the week.
The second section tracks the amount of aerobic activity based on distance swam, rowed, cycled or run; developed by's Dan Empfield:  In short, 100 yards of swimming is like two minutes of rowing, or a mile of cycling, or 400 meters of running, or five minutes of intense weight training.  It's not perfect but it provides the closest apples-to-apples approximation when you're spending as much time in an orange grove as an apple orchard.
The third section covers the training impact of the workout, which comes from David Bannister's research in 1975.  Simply put, a training impact score is the product of time and intensity quantified above fifty percent of maximum heart rate; a training impact score of 60 could be the result of 12 minutes at 90-to-100 percent average max heart rate, or 60 minutes at an average of 50 percent max.  Several higher-end heart rate monitors will break down a workout into periods of time at a certain heart rate, so every minute at 50 percent would earn one point, every minute at 60 would earn two, and so on.  And if you want to keep it very simple you could rate your workout by perceived effort, a five or six would be multiplied by 1, a nine or ten would be multiplied by 5.  My goal for each day's workout/s is to acquire a score of 150-to-200; that's a score which most likely will allow me to recover enough to do the workout again the next day.  On top of all this information, I track (by simple addition) the mileage accrued on my running shoes in the case of run workouts.

Some persons would most likely consider my record-keeping structure to be a little bit of overkill.  I've found, as time progresses, the most important trend factors which affect my running quality-of-life and tell me where things might be going wrong.  But good records are part and parcel with good running.

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