Ultrarunning: Tracking Your Training via Points

October 3, 2011

This article is part of Endurance Planet’s ultrarunning article series. If you have questions, comments or feedback about “Tracking Your Training via Points”, please leave it below in the comments section…

Documentation is an important part of any training program. The benefits of training, especially endurance oriented workouts, don’t usually become noticeable until after some time. Recording the results of your sessions creates a timeline and a comparison reference by which you can ascertain if you actually are physically and mentally developing as a runner.

There are many tools besides the common training journal which are designed to track your progress. Among those made available now are spreadsheet file templates and online running log applications. A complementary method that you can use along with these tools is a point system by which you can put your training development in more easily quantifiable terms.

Applying a point system to measure your training progress is nothing new. Runners and coaches alike have developed their own procedures for this method with varying degrees of refinement and success. One basic model is to perhaps to assign points for various types of workouts – long runs, intervals, tempos, etc., and then set some rules on how those points are gained and how many should be the goal for a day, week or month.

Motivation

In essence what you’re attempting here is to overlay or merge game mechanics into your training. As can be seen in how this is applied in other fields of endeavor, a point system can serve as an additional factor that can drive motivation.

Evaluation

Another possible benefit to the method of assigning points to particular types of workouts is that it forces you to evaluate your perspective and approach to training. You begin to ask questions like: Which types should have more weight endurance, strength or speed sessions? Should an interval run have as many, less or equal points as a basic running session of the same set time/distance? How does pacing affect the valuation? Should cross training workouts also be included in the point system? When you finally answer these questions, you might discover some aspect about your training methodology that you otherwise took for granted.

Equilibrium

It’s not difficult to imagine that laying over a point system could push runners already too focused on mileage further into this obsession. Actually it would depend on how you execute it. You can for example insert a point substitution mechanic for bad training practices such as running on what is supposedly a recovery day. Another possible mechanic is to assign days where you can’t earn points. This forces you to really observe recovery periods and train harder on days where you can earn points. The aim here is to enforce a good proportion of volume and intensity and hopefully reduce the ‘junk miles’ sessions.

Having a point system is not necessary but as you can see there are advantages to having one. If you feel that tracking weekly mileage, average heart rates and other details are not enough for you, there’s nothing wrong with doing a little experimentation that may lead you to train better.

Summary

Do you have questions about point systems for training, or what you’ve read so far? Do you have any ultrarunning pointers of your own to add? Please leave your feedback, comments and questions below, and we promise we’ll respond.

One Comment

  • Andy says:

    Really interesting idea, I have always trained in hours and then tried to put strength in to achieve the distance of the ultra race, I like to add in speed but always struggle with the trade of recovery time and risk of injury on a tired body. I would be very interested in understanding how the people actuals work this process to cope with ultras


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