03/29/2015 12:39 pm ET Updated Dec 06, 2017

10 Ways Writing Can Help You Become a Better Runner

Every runner should keep a running journal. Yeah, I know all about DailyMile, Nike Plus, Strava, and RunKeeper. They're all good for analytics, GPS mapping, numbers, and social connections. However, there's something intimate and remarkable that happens when you write your thoughts down by hand.

Consider the impact of the handwritten word. Love notes, holiday cards, and kindergarten projects all resonate with us because the handwritten word is a powerful form of expression. The paper has been touched by the hand of the writer. Their emotions have poured forth into their unique script with all the raw markings that show their urgency, passion, and elegance.

When you open a running journal it should remind you of what you love about the sport. Your journal should have amusing doodles in the margins and dog-eared pages that recount your greatest efforts or darkest days of injury. Any bound paper notebook will do, but a quality journal will implore you to leave your words on its pages.


10 Reasons Why You Should Keep a Running Journal

  1. Running is a solitary pursuit that leaves nothing behind but fleeting footprints. Recording your workouts in a journal gives them permanency and proof.
  2. A running journal can boost your confidence. Deena Kastor told me that the night before a big race, she reviews her workouts and draws strength from her long months of training and determination.
  3. Writing requires thought and reflection. You will become more invested in your running goals if you engage your mind and your spirit.
  4. Every runner is unique. A training journal reveals your distinct training secrets. You can discover what type of training produces the best results by reading your journal after strong races.
  5. Avoid injury by learning from your own mistakes. Find out what works in terms of stretching, massage, strength training, and mileage. Run smarter and know your personal running history.
  6. Everyone needs a cheering section. Your journal will help you to stay focused on your goals and keep you motivated when your passion wanes. The satisfaction of entering a great workout is hard to describe, but it gives your efforts a level of significance.
  7. Race better and develop a strategy that fits with your running style. Record the details of your races and find out what strategies work best for you. Lead from the start, even pacing throughout, or a devastating kick at the end?
  8. Daily affirmation. To paraphrase Stuart Smalley from Saturday Night Live, you're good enough, you're strong enough, and doggone it, you're a runner! Your progress and hard work proves that.
  9. Recording the details of your runs can help you to find patterns in your training. Record your heart rate, nutrition, weight, sleep, aches and pains, and anything else that might relevant to your overall health and fitness.
  10. Make running an important part of your life by capturing your thoughts and emotions as well as your training data. Running is an activity that benefits the mind as much as the body. When you experience those moments of clarity on your next long run, capture them in your journal before they vanish like the ephemeral runner's high.