Meet Avocado. This is my running mascot. He’s actually an adorable dog toy my husband got me for Christmas. After moving him around from shelf to shelf, he landed on my running journal and I knew then that he was going to be my Running Avocado. He became my mascot! All right, I get it. I’m a little weird, I know, but everything I do has a purpose. So why do I have a running avocado?
Simply put, running isn’t easy. Anyone who has tried it out knows that. This cute little motivator does his job and he does it well. He helps me get outside. I put him on the top shelf of my writing desk with a little note in his lap. The note isn’t anything fancy, just a few words to remind me why I run. When I face having to go outside, it isn’t always easy but remembering the reasons behind my early mornings, rushed afternoons, and sweaty nights gives me enough of a push to get out and get going.
Here he is in his element. Smiling away and holding a little reminder to me.
While I’m at work writing, editing, doing homework, or planning out some yoga I see Avocado holding his little sign smiling at me. It keeps my love and passion for running in the front of my mind even if I am just looking at him out of the corners of my eyes.
This is great and not just because Avocado is adorable. It keeps my runs never more than one foot away. Which means I don’t forget my runs. And, since I’ve been gifted Avocado, I haven’t made as many excuses not to run either. Normally, I try my very best to push myself out the door and I succeed most of the time! But sometimes, I fail. Avocado here, with his little smile and soft face, makes me reconsider bailing out.
Bottom line: I don’t want to let down my stuffed animal.
But that’s what a little mascot is good for! Lots of people have lucky charms or mascots to help inspire them. If you don’t have one, maybe someday you’ll find something that fits the requirements for you. They do help.
But this post isn’t just about a cute avocado dog toy. It’s about keeping a running journal. And this doesn’t apply to just runners. This is about keeping a detailed record of your training. I’ll say it again:
Keep a detailed record of your exercise.
Was that clear enough?
If there’s one piece of advice I could insert into everyone’s brain it’s that it’s so important to keep a log of your training. Buy a journal or a plain spiral notebook and dedicate it to your exercise of choice. Whether it’s running, biking, swimming, martial arts, or weight lifting get yourself a journal and dedicate ten minutes out of your day to write in it.
And I’m not just talking about how much you lifted.
Yes, that needs to go in there too or into a log you’ve created yourself so that you don’t lose track and so you can see areas of progress and areas of decline. But the point of a journal isn’t necessarily to track how far you ran or how fast. Not even to track and remember your intervals.
It’s to track you.
The most important thing about keeping a journal for running (or your exercise of choice) is not to log your exercise program but to log the status of your body. This can mean a lot of things. It’ll be different for everyone.
My running journal keeps track of a few main things. The first is very important.
How did my run feel? Was it hard? Easy? Hard when it should have been easy? This is the biggest part of my journal entry. It describes mile by mile, practically step by step, how my run felt to me. It mentions whether or not I was happy going into it, during it, and after it. If I was frustrated, I make a note even if it was because of traffic on the roads or trails. It looks at my heart rate. It looks at how my muscles felt.
The second thing my journal looks at is just as important.
Why did my run feel this way? This is where I mention any nagging injuries, blisters, soreness. I also keep a careful note of my menstrual cycle (which is not just your period) because hormones impact you and you’re how you’re physically feeling. Maybe you aren’t down for the count but you need to tailor your run for the levels of hormones in your body. Google it! There’s a lot of interesting research and ideas out there. The important thing here is to examine why. If there’s a lot of traffic and it’s leading to frustration, I might flip through my journal and realize that it’s time to find a new route. If I always have pain on mile 4, I might realize that it’s the road condition or something else.
The final thing keeps me healthy.
Did anything hurt? This matters. It’s very easy to brush off a twinge of pain. But when I know I’m supposed to write it down later, I remember. I’ve prevented a few injuries this way. A small pain in my calf gets written down and then tended to. Maybe some ice. Some foam roller. Some fascia blasting. And it feels better. When I don’t write it down, nothing really gets done because I forget about it. But, four runs later, I’m limping home.
Of course, there are other things too. Had I eaten enough? Did I get enough rest? What time during the day did I run? Did I have coffee before the run? And was I hydrated? The journal helps keep track of all that.
I have a few rules for my journal as well. If you don’t have a journal but are thinking of establishing one, I suggest a few house rules like the ones I have.
1. No negativity
This is tough. If you’ve had an awful run all you want to do is sit down and complain about it. It’s habit. It’s our general nature. The problem with this is that the journal isn’t fulfilling its purpose. It is here to help us on future runs. If your run felt awful, that’s fine. You should feel free to express the problems with the run. But always throw a positive twist on it. This helps you stay motivated for your upcoming runs.
This is where Avocado comes in and helps me. I’ll write something like this:
I was struggling on today’s run. My heart rate was really high for no real reason and I struggled to get it down. But Avocado says it’s okay! What matters is that I worked hard and got outside. He is right. It was a beautiful day out.
This really helps me. It shifts the perspective from doom and gloom to moderately cheery and it’s easier because I’m not really the one who’s saying it.
2. Within 2 hours after a run
If it doesn’t happen right away, give yourself a small time frame. Otherwise, it won’t happen. My time frame is two hours. Normally, I open up my journal right after my stretching and get to writing.
3. With a post-run snack/protein
This one is just a personal rule, but it really helps my general health and energy. I am a huge fan of protein shakes post-workout. When I grab my journal and Avocado, I also grab a protein shake or maybe a small snack. While I write, I munch. Then, several hours later, I thank myself when I haven’t crashed. I also thank myself the next day when my body is better recovered than usual.
4. With your mascot (if you have one)
This keeps me honest about being positive. When I grab Avocado and plop him in front of me when I’m writing, I’m reminded to be positive about my run. I’m also reminded that I did it! Avocado inspired me to go and I went.
Well, there you have it. Just a few reasons why a journal for your exercise can really help you help it out. Besides just tracking progress or your personal program, it tracks you. It’s a nice, quick way to help monitor your body and mind. Give it a shot! Learn about yourself.