When we look back on our lives, we tend to focus on the key highs and that have helped shape us. But when you look back with fond memories of that fabulous half marathon time you managed a few years back, it’s easy to forget just how much hard work you put in to get there.
And it’s not a one-sided thing either. On more than one occasion, I’ve talked myself out of attempting a PB, because I don’t feel like I’ve put the training in – and then discovered that I’ve been training harder than ever.
A record of the numbers – even just a piece of paper on the fridge, with dates, times and distances – can help build up an extremely useful picture of where you are. And if you wear a GPS, and let a website like Fetcheveryone.com loose on the data, there’s a never-ending supply of fascinating ways to slice and dice your performance.
Over the first year or two of most running careers, PB’s are relatively plentiful. Our bodies adapt to the new challenges of running, and it can be a lot of fun to target lots of different race distances, chipping merrily away at the minutes and seconds. Eventually though, the easy gains start to diminish, and you find yourself in need of a bit of guidance to help you climb the next peak.Plain and simple, making notes about your training is an incredibly handy way to remind yourself of all the lessons you’ll learn over your running career. I’ve been running for 12 years now, and very occasionally I like to go back all the way to the start for a bit of reminiscence. I smile as my inexperienced former self learned about how many layers to wear; the importance of going to the loo before running; and just how a little blue inhaler could make all the difference to my exercise-tightened lungs.
This is where an online log can lift you above anything that pen and paper can achieve – because you can see what other people are doing, and you can see what works (and what doesn’t). It was an eye-opener for me to find out that runners who were faster than me were training at a slower pace than me. It was fascinating to look at the stats on speed sessions, and to eventually record my own. Sharing data, and learning from others helped me find my way to more impressive times.
A good online training log will also give you a global view of your training, which is useful as you approach your target race (in my case, a half marathon). With just a few clicks, Fetcheveryone tells me that I’ve done 271 miles over the last four months, with my five longest runs contributing 65 miles. I can compare this to my best ever half, and see that I’d run more miles (320), but my long runs were less impressive (59). I can see that my pace is a little slower at the moment too, and that I’ve spent less time at threshold training pace.
Very few of us will reach the sort of standard where access to this sort of information will help us get a gold medal and a lucrative contract advertising breakfast cereal. But it can be very helpful in guiding us to our own goals, no matter how humble – and what’s more, it’s a lot of fun to look at.
aka 'Fetch' Editor of Fetcheveryone.com
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