Ben Fish explains why it is important to keep a pen and paper training log and also reflects on his recent racing.
I’ve kept my training logs for about 20 years, starting off from just having times and mileage scribbled down on six-week plans in A4, to more detailed logging in the past 10-15 years, where I write down my training and races in quite a lot of detail using hardback journals.
Even now, with the ability to upload training just by holding your GPS watch next to your phone, I think it’s still incredibly important to be connected with what you’re doing. Putting pen to paper really makes you think more about what you’re doing, rather than just a load of incomprehensible stats recorded by technology.
When I look back on my training, I can pinpoint mistakes where I might have gone wrong more easily (there’s also more swear words and exclamation marks!). By writing down how you felt after training you can often spot a potential demise before the splits or times start showing it. You should always be in-tune with how you feel in your training, as well as being connected to what the purpose of your training is.
As with most technology, it’s ever changing. I would have lost all my logged training from the Garmin Trainer Centre (the days of Forerunner 201’s if you’ve been running less than 10 years) when it changed to Garmin Connect and there’s no guarantee that Strava will be here forever.
Still, if I want to look back at any period of my training, I don’t need to worry about that, all I do is walk over to the bookshelf and “voila,” there it is!
There’s something very unemotional about logging training online that I’ve never been fond of. I feel far more connected thoughtfully and emotionally with what I’m doing when I write it down. It brings a personality and an individuality to your training, rather than some generic format on the internet.
Statistics don’t always tell you the full story, only the written word can.
Now to my recent running
This past month has been about getting that sharpness back following the London Marathon. I didn’t recover quite as well as I expected and had a few days were I felt a bit groggy, but at least the legs felt fine. By the time I did the 5000m for Blackburn Harriers in the Northern League two weeks later, I felt pretty much 100%, though I hadn’t done much in the way of speed-work.
I was up against Karl Darcy, who’s been in fine form recently, so I knew it would be a stern test. I took the lead and felt surprisingly comfortable, rattling off 72 second laps. By about halfway I started to open up a gap on Karl and I pushed hard to really turn the screw and put myself out of reach. I started to feel it a bit in the last few laps, it was very hot out there and the lack of speed was catching up with me, but still, I managed to win by around 100m in 15:18.
After that, it was a well overdue holiday with Hannah, and we spent a week in Pembrokeshire, Wales. It was nice to spend some time together, relax and enjoy a change of scenery. I didn’t fret about mileage, but I ran on most mornings and nailed a couple of good speed sessions (6 x 6 mins with 2 min rec and 12x 300m hills).
The next race was the Wesham Summer 10k, which is a new addition to the long established winter one in November. The no-nonsense approach of no medal, t-shirt or presentation with £6 entry, proved very popular and the race sold out very quickly.
The start list also boasted some of the fastest runners in the area, though, sadly there were a few missing due to injuries or illness. The most notable absence was Wesham’s protege, Rob Danson, who would have been the race favourite. As it was, the heavy burden of race favourite seemed to fall on my shoulders, though having seen how well my clubmate Tim Raynes has been running, I wasn’t so sure.
I certainly didn’t make things easy for myself, on checking the race location, which wasn’t actually in Wesham as such, and mapping my route, it was likely to take 45-50 minutes to travel over there on my motorbike. The route ‘seemed’ simple enough, but after passing by Longridge, it started proving to be anything but.
All the winding country lanes made navigating very difficult and I soon learnt there are a lot more small villages between Preston and Wesham than I realised. Time was starting to run out and I was beginning to panic, the race was at 7:15pm and I was expecting to get there for 6:30pm after work. After having to keep pulling over and checking the map on my phone I finally got there with 20 minutes to spare!
The race started off as expected, with myself and Tim battling it out, but I was feeling far from comfortable in the first 2km. I seemed to be running more smoothly after that and just before halfway I started to put a gap on Tim. I passed 5km in 15:19 and there was a chance I might threaten Jonathan Prowse’s record of 30:56, which has stood for a number of years.
However, I could sense my pace was starting to slow in the last 3km and on checking my watch at 9km (28:08) I knew the record was well out of reach. I finished in 31:23, followed by Tim In 32:01 and the evergreen Rob Affleck in 33:03. It was a great day for the club with Ben Costello bagging fifth place ahead of Chris Davies in seventh and Josh Holgate in eighth place. We also had Victoria Mousley finish third in the ladies race and Joanne Nelson in seventh.
Looking ahead I will have one or two half marathons in June, then I’ll switch my attention to racing shorter distances and will do more on the track, with the hope of improving my 3000m time at the Stretford Open races.