It would be wonderful if we never had to write anything down. But in our daily lives, we tend to remember only a few of the crucial ingredients that help us improve our fitness. Without a journal, you’ll probably forget the few small mistakes that led to an injury or the fine-tuning of minor elements that led to a personal record.

A journal allows us to plan the future, track our behaviors, learn from our mistakes, and chart our progress in a consistent direction. With a simple logbook format that each of us chooses, we can see what to do, usually within a few minutes, and make the adjustments necessary. Journals give us control over our future while they allow us to learn from our past.

I’m not suggesting that everything be scheduled in advance. Some of the most inspiring moments, and memorable actions sneak up on us, unexpectedly. In your journal you can trap these and relive the positive feelings. But by using your journal to plan ahead, you’re programming the brain to continuously steer towards interesting opportunities that arise, as you eliminate junk miles and aches. You don’t even have to have a time goal to benefit from a journal. Journals are extremely helpful in ensuring that you schedule and record the enjoyable components while avoiding the stressful trends that produce injury.

Of all the activities that surround running, it is the writing and review of your journal that gives the greatest control, as you adjust. It only takes a few minutes, every other day, to record the key information. Looking back through your entries will provide laughs and enjoyment. You’ll revisit the interesting things you saw during the last week, the crazy thoughts, the people you met and the fun. This process can inspire the right brain to produce more entertainment, as you schedule runs that are more likely to promote the joy of running.