A Glimpse into My Journal

by Jodi

This week  I went on a 10k run that felt slow and hard.  My mind was in it but my muscles were fatigued and my breathing labored.  Even the baby hills felt like mountains.  When I got home, I grabbed my Fitness Journal out of the drawer in my kitchen and went to log my workout.  I gasped when I realized I was turning THE LAST page in the journal.  In a matter of days I'll have to start a new journal.  It was monumental.

I bought this journal at the Dollar Tree more than FIVE years ago.  My  kids were 6, 5, 3, and almost 2 years old.  I was still trying to figure out how to exercise consistently and do something more than just run.  My fitness journey was just getting started.  Quite frankly, I assumed I'd fill up a few pages, get tired of exercise and end up using the journal to make To Do lists.

Instead, that little book has become my story.  Every workout gets logged in the book.  Injured?  It goes in the book.  Physical therapy?  In the book.  Races?  Those go in the book and often get excited highlights.  Discouraged?  I highlight the good runs and give myself a little pep talk.  This little notebook holds the history of my journey to fitness and the life that followed maintaining it.  It tells of overcoming injury, triumphing over fear, and making dreams a reality.  It may be ugly, but it's valuable to me.

Page one says Exercise 2008 and the first entry says "yoga lower body - twenty minutes."  I skimmed to find a run equivalent to the one I just finished logging and found one that matched distance and date almost exactly.  I was shocked at the improvement.

January 15, 2008:  run 5.63 miles in 57 minutes and 47 seconds for an average of 10:20 pace.
January 10, 2013:  run 6:01 miles in 47 minutes and 39 seconds for an average of 7:56 pace.

There is no magic pill, diet or secret to getting fit, losing weight, and making dreams a reality.  There are, however, character traits called dedication, determination, patience, and hard work.  And EVERYONE has those.    

When I was running ten minute miles, I was just as stoked as I am today to run seven minute miles. Why?  Because it was what I could do at the time.  I was pushing my body to the limit and celebrating the satisfaction found in consistent, hard work.  

Running is intoxicating because it's unpredictable.  A good run keeps me coming back for the next three that are slow, miserable and feel like torture.  I run fast and strong and feel invincible.  Then my running plateaus, and I get discouraged.  Right when I'm ready to throw in the towel, I have another great run, my pace picks up and I'm off chasing another personal best time.  Then there's injuries.  All it takes is a little time on the sidelines rehabbing an injury to make me appreciate every little thing about running.  My first run post-knee surgery was a painful two miles on a treadmill at a slow pace.  But you wouldn't have known it from the ridiculously large smile consuming my face.  I was thrilled to have a second chance to run again. 

Here's a glimpse into my journal of some of my favorite moments.
This is one of my proudest life moments.  I overcame my fear of drowning and swam just under a mile in open water.  I came out of the water 6th to the last, but I was alive.  Even better, my husband swam behind me the entire time to protect me and give me peace.  We came out of the water together.  It still chokes me up whenever I think  of it.

Marathoning is definitely worth highlighting!
My second marathon.  First time qualifying for Boston.  First race with Carissa.  A total shock since I was hoping to finish in 4 hours.  I had no idea I could set speed goals and achieve them.  This race gave me confidence to set goals and chase them down.

Started marathon training - first time using a schedule to train for a race

nineteen mile training run - "not easy, but equipped."  How cool is that?

Sick, sick, sick on race day.  But by the grace of God, I managed to run a Boston-qualifying and personal best race.  Even better, my non-biological brother Jon ran every step of the way with me in spite of the fact that he usually runs low 6 minute miles.  Who does that?  Incredibly blessed...  That's what I am.

Sometimes the fitness highlights have nothing to do with time and everything to do with relationships.  I've loved teaching our kids to enjoy running, biking, and hiking.  Some of my most memorable  experiences have been hiking with my Mom or the kids, backpacking with Curt, and walking or running with friends.  I was also intensely emotional when a group of girlfriends ran the Girlfriends Half Marathon to honor our friend we lost to cancer.  You can't put a price tag on that experience.

And then there's those pesky injuries. They slow my pace.  Make me stir crazy enough to start swimming again.  And give me a fresh appreciation for running, even when my pace is slow and my breathing labored.  When I'm ramping back up, I'll take any opportunity to give myself a pep talk in my journal.

I bought myself a new journal.  It's cuter this time, but I figure it will take me several years to fill it up so why not?  The blank pages are waiting to be filled with the next chapter in my story.

What about you?  Do you keep a fitness journal?  If not, why not start one?  You'll be surprised at the story you write.  

Running through life together,



  1. Congrats on that last page! It's fun to be able to see what you have done over a few years. I keep my journal all online. I am scattered with paper things, and for some reason decided to try an online log about 3 months after I started running, so most of 4 1/2 years is there. It IS interesting to measure progress. WOW have your times dropped! I like to look back at some of my pregnant run entries. Those are funny.
    God Bless!

    1. You inspire me Raina with how fast you run and how hard you pursue running fast. I do not have that drive or desire, but admire it in other runners like you and Carissa. I'll run vicariously through you!

  2. That's a great story! I love that you kept a journal & can compare what you've done. So impressive!
    I know I'm running more, faster & farther, but have no journal to show for it. Tha'ts quite a motivator! Good for you!!!

    1. Hi Debbie. It's so great to hear from you. Isn't it fun to notice improvement? One thing I've realized is that even though I'm getting faster, the hard runs still feel just as "hard" and the fast runs, just as "fast." What I love is finishing a run, checking the Garmin and being surprised by the pace. I'd encourage you to start logging your running/stretching/cross training in a journal. You'll be shocked at the story. Have fun.

  3. Congratulations on everything you have achieved in the the last 5 years. You have had an incredible journey! I should probably have a journal, but I don't- yet. I log all of my miles in my online garmin account and I also use daily mile for running and logging my crossfit workouts. Brooks just sent me a mileage log in my last order. It is clean and simple so I might start using that. I have to start somewhere! Can't wait to see what story you write in your new journal.

    1. Hi Tasha. Too bad you didn't start journaling when you first started running. You're so fast now that I bet you'd be shocked at where you started. I know speed improvement comes in smaller increments now, but I bet you'd still like journaling. Happy running and thanks for stopping by AND for commenting. We love to hear from our other Sole Sisters.

  4. Man, I really enjoyed this post. And I almost got choked up thinking of your hubby swimming behind you and protecting you and bringing you peace!!! I didn't journal much when I started running but I've always written race reports long before even having a blog for myself. Just this week I looked over my first HM and compared it to a recent training run and felt an overwhelming sense of accomplishment. Happy 2013:)

    1. Hi Jenn. I was so encouraged to get your post. I checked out your blog and realized we have something in common: Minnesota. I went to college there. Met my husband there. Lived there for two years after we got married. And have boatloads of family living there. When we started running in 2007 (we were in Chicago by that time), we had a rule that if it was 12 degrees or over, we ran. If it was under 12 degrees, we slept in. So I understand cold. Your most recent post made me smile. Where in MN do you live?

      You're right about the sweetness of my husband swimming behind me. I'm so slow in the water that he had to breaststroke the entire mile to stay behind me. Poor guy was so sore when we got out of the water! If it isn't obvious from the photos, I was a sobbing fool when we came out of the water. He struggled on the run portion, so I helped him through that part and we crossed the finish line holding hands. One of our top dates so far.

      Anyway, thanks for posting and sharing. Happy running to you as well!