After I added up the mileage of another week of running (28.23 miles), I took a minute to flip back through my log for the year. 2009 is very nearly done, the next twelve days will be the easy, first two weeks of my training for the Virgin London Marathon. It’s remarkable, the story my log tells me. As I flip through January, February and March (the months leading up to my injury), I see the words sluggish, pain, hamstring, weak, tired, awful, and bummer over and over again. Until finally, on March 26th, the day after my 36th birthday, it comes to an abrupt halt. I ran 5 miles in 51:02, home from work, and my notes say “Rainy. Left hamstring very sore.” A string of days noted as HURT-PT is followed by weeks of blank pages; it rips my heart out to flip past them. Even though I was going to PT, doing my rehab at the gym, and slowly building mileage on the treadmill, nothing is recorded until June 5th, when I ran 1.79 miles in 14:58 around my neighborhood. Thus started my slow build–with a set-back in late August when I aggravated my injury during a Nike Speed session–back to where I am now, winning a local Duck Trot and setting a PR in the 15k. Even though my training log may seem aloof in its lack of complete sentences or even much description beyond a word like “zippy,” it is one of the most emotional reads I’ve ever experienced. In many respects, my training logs are the most personal accounts of my life, though to see the intimate details one would have to be able to read between the lines.
Earlier this year, Deena Kastor told an audience in the New York Times building that before her big races, she looked back through her training logs for the pink workouts. Those were the ones she nailed, highlighted in pink as noteworthy and successful. Deena takes heart in the blur of pink she sees as she flicks the pages. I take heart in the progression of my words over the months, from “tired” to “amazing,” and from “hurt” to “strong.” I am encouraged by the number of workouts I have had side by side with people who I love.
How do you track the progress of your running life? What do you read between the lines of your training log that moves you, inspires you, reveals you? In what do you take heart, when it comes time to stand at the starting line?
I have a bunch of 2010 training logs for a few of you, sent over by my friend Phil, who has been designing and printing training logs for runners for nearly 3 decades. Check it out. This is how it works: everyone who posts a comment gets entered for a chance to win a 2010 training log. I’ll pick the winners a week from today (December 27th) so you have them in time for the New Year.