Back in the day, I religiously kept a running journal. Actually, the information wasn’t all that detailed. If I run a track work-out, I would just list the mileage and might note “track work-out” but wouldn’t include the length of the track intervals or the times. It’s not so much the information one puts into a running journal, but the thought and concentration involved in putting the day’s run onto paper that makes a running journal valuable. Well OK, it doesn’t take a lot of thought or concentration to write “7” on a piece of paper after running seven miles, but you get the idea. The problem was, every couple of years, I’d lose my notebook, and would have to start the whole process over again.
Sometime in the mid-90’s, I ended my daily devotional of running journal entries entirely. A lot of this was simply because I wasn’t running much then, and was well on my way to gaining about 50-60 lbs over the next fives years. There was a time I’d blame it all on marrying the wrong woman, who wasn’t a big fan of me running, but I think it’s fair to say that my first wife probably gave me a well needed break from running seriousness, just not in the right way.
So as to slowly reclaim back the old running life once lived, it’s time to start keeping a running journal again. And instead of an old fashioned notebook, I’ve recently joined DailyMile to record each day of running. It’s got a few new fangled features they didn’t have back in the day. The most notable is the social networking aspect of the website, where you can have training “friends”, and even send your friends motivation, in the form of icons shaped like a blue ribbon or a green thumbs up sign. If you want to send me motivation, well that’s nice, but after thirty years with plenty of runs and races under my belt that have gone horribly wrong, countless running injuries of all type and severity, and a few unfortunate incidents involving either end of the digestive system, a green thumbs up icon from out of the blue is not going to make much difference in whether or not I keep at it.
The really neat feature of Daily Mile is their running route mapping feature, leaving no wild guesses as to how far each run is, or how high certain hills are. I’ve had some fun looking at the online map of my neighborhood, and think, “Hey, what if I ran this course?”, then map it out and immediately get a good idea of what I’m getting myself into, rather than finding out the hard way.
For my other hobby, homebrewing, I haven’t found the equivalent of Daily Mile, and wouldn’t join, even if it existed. Something about quantifying a hobby changes it. By keeping track of miles, times, and workouts, running becomes, at a certain level, a chore, but it’s doing those chores that pay off on race day, so I gladly do them. On the other hand, I just simply like brewing beer and sharing those results with friends, end of story. I have great friends who lie to me, always telling me the beer tastes great, whether or not it actually does. And perhaps because the stopwatch is more brutally honest than my friends, I have no real desire to monitor every last beta acid or religiously keep track of the gravity of the beer over the entire process, which would take a lot of fun out of home brewing for me. Maybe some day I’ll enter my home brews into competitions and start keeping more detailed notes on my home brews, but right now, developing a repeatable malt extraction process or agonizing over how the judges are going to perceive my homebrews are stresses I’d rather not deal with right now.
So I keep a running journal, and will remain blissfully unaware of metrics needed to improve my homebrews. And unlike my old running journal written in a notebook for my eyes only, my daily workout are now on this blog via some Daily Mile gadget, for the whole world to see. My training is now a wide open book. Is this really progress?