Many runners use GPS tracking that feeds data into apps like MapMyRun or even Nike training products, producing tons of raw running data. I've used GPS throughout almost my entire running "career", and I've been able to see time and distance improvements when they happen. What has been lacking for me, though, was figuring out why those improvements were happening, or why the improvements I expected didn't happen. With raw data, it's difficult to make many connections between cause and effect.
To enhance my marathon training, I got my hands on a custom made JournalMenu planner. Maybe it's because I've always loved hand-written notes and letters, but I have definitely found a huge benefit to using my planner throughout the past few months. I take my raw data from MapMyRun (time, distance, average pace) for each day's run and transcribe it into the journal - but then I write notes on the full experience. How did I feel on the run? What did I eat throughout the day? Did I refuel during my run? What types of products did I use for pre-, mid-, and post-run? By notating all the details of my runs, I have been able to make some connections that exposed opportunities for improvement.
I'm also able to record all of my cross training in the same pages, so of course I just had to color code all of my entries! Run stats in pink, products used in red, experience notations in gold, yoga in blue, lifting in purple... The more thorough I got, the easier it was to see the patterns of successes and opportunities. Digital tracking gives us a lot of information, but it isn't always easy to decipher into something useful. JournalMenu has helped me bridge the gap between information and knowledge, and it shows in my many training gains over the past six months. I've cut almost 15 minutes off my half marathon since starting my journal tracking! And there's that little matter of the marathon around the corner, which wouldn't have been possible without learning about my body's reactions to training, fueling, and resting during my training period.
Oh, and BONUS: JournalMenu actually allows you to FULLY customize your planner! As you can see, my cover is obviously custom made, but the inside pages come in a wide variety of styles, such as weightlifting formats and two-day-per-page blanks. There are supplemental materials for all manner of training, like pace charts and training plans for various race distances. JournalMenu caters heavily to the CrossFit crowd, and even included pages of sample CrossFit WODs in my book for me to try! No matter what your fitness goals or favorite activities, JournalMenu can make you a planner that will help you along your entire journey.
How do you track your progress when training for a goal? How do you interpret the raw data you collect? What's your next big goal?