Workout Logs and Recording Exercise

Do you keep a workout log or record of your daily/weekly/monthly/yearly exercise? There are so many ways to keep track of our exercise routines. We can utilize electronic programs, various websites, or hand written journals. Each method has pro and cons and the choice depends on personal preference, time commitment, convenience, if you have a coach, and your goals. 

Websites provide detailed data collection and analysis, and they often allow you to connect with others. Strava, Final Surge, Training PeaksVDOTO2, and Garmin Connect are just a few of the web applications available for athletes to use. These websites also have mobile apps for your phone. A less sophisticated method using the computer is just using programs such as Microsoft Excel or Word to make make training plans and type up your workouts. In terms of the old fashioned pen and pencil, there are multiple training journals specific to various sports with different levels of complexity and detail. The Believe Training Journal is also a good tool for runners looking for more of a dairy/workbook style. Regular calendars and blank notepads are great, simple approaches too! 

I have been tracking my workouts since 2010 in a variety of ways, including almost every website and approach described above. I currently record my exercise three ways: Garmin Connect, VDOTO2, and a hand written notebook. 

When I got my first Garmin watch back in May 2010, the watch automatically began uploading my runs into Garmin Connect. Garmin records your pace and splits, the elevation, the weather, your race records, and many other details. Garmin can also be used for cycling and swimming! Here is what the data from my very first run on Garmin Connect looks like on the computer (note this was in May 2010 and I ran 9:56 pace for 3.25 miles!):


Since I still have a Garmin watch, I continue to use the Garmin Connect website on my computer and the app on my phone. Here is the info from my run today (a little bit faster and further than 8 years ago - 8:24 pace for 9 miles):


I also keep track of my runs in VDOTO2. I use this platform to connect with my coach. She uploads my workouts into the program every week, and then my runs get recorded so she can see how I did. We can both leave comments and easily track my progress. Similar to Garmin Connect, my watch automatically uploads the data to this website and the mobile app on my phone. This is great because I don't have to do anything for this data to accumulate. It is extremely easy! The only thing that doesn't come up is any run I do on the treadmill because I don't wear my watch. For those, I manually enter the time and distance into VDOTO2 for my coach. Here is what my VDOTO2 online calendar looks like for the past couple weeks: 

Finally, I also enjoy writing down my workouts in a simple blank notebook. Since I don't have to do anything for the electronic records because they are automatic, this is the only workout log I actually have to put effort into. I like to use this method to write a little about my run if there was something significant: any pain, comments on the weather, a specific route, or how I felt. I also use this method to keep track how many miles I've run on each of my pairs of shoes so I know when they need to be changed. I enjoy personalizing my notebook to include whatever I want, and I like how I can display the whole week and my paces on one page. The online or mobile apps typically require multiple clicks to see all this data. Here is one of my weeks in April from my paper training journal:


I love looking back to see what I did and how I performed. It is invaluable to be able to measure progress or detect trends that led to either positive or negative results. It allows you to adjust your training and find what works best for you and your body. 

Do you currently or have you in the past recorded your workouts either electronically or on paper? What did you like best and why? Let me know in the comments!