The Rules for Running Logs


It’s a new year, and for many people the beginning of January offers an opportunity to spend some extra time thinking about the ol’ running log. Maybe you’re someone who likes to review the previous year’s training. Or maybe you’ve made a resolution to keep the log up to date this year. Or you might be using the new year as extra motivation not to miss a day or running. Whatever the reason, I’m guessing you’ve been looking at that log more carefully.

With that in mind, I’d like to remind everyone that there are fairly strict rules for keeping running logs. As a public service I want to call your attention to a number of running-specific rules enumerated in the International Standards Organization Publication ISO-26.2, Rules for Recording Individual Training Activities.

If you are not already familiar with these rules, please make sure you review the following excerpts from that publication. You’re welcome.

  1.  Types of Runs that Qualify as Mileage
    1. Runs that qualify as mileage:
      1. Normal runs (including recovery runs, moderate runs, tempo runs, fartlek, etc.) at any running pace, as long as the total distance run exceeds half a mile.
      2. Warmup and cooldown runs (e.g., before races or workouts) may be counted as mileage, but only when identified as warmup/cooldown in the running log. Those who opt NOT to record their warmup/cooldown runs are entitled to feel superior and make fun of those who do count such runs.
      3. Distance covered in repetitions on track, roads, fields, hills, etc. over a measured distance.
      4. Distance covered in races, but NOT extra distance run via a failure to run tangents. Note: Except in extraordinary circumstances, a runner should NOT record a race distance greater than the distance of the race, regardless of what your wildly inaccurate GPS watch says. Example: you run a 10K and your GPS says you ran 6.4 miles, record the distance as 6.2 miles. Exception: If you take a wrong turn and run more than a quarter mile off-course before realizing your mistake, you are entitled to record the extra mileage, using an acceptable method.
      5. Distance recorded on a treadmill, but ONLY when such mileage is identified as treadmill running in the running log.
    2.  The following runs do NOT qualify as mileage:
      1. Walking/jogging between repetition runs.
      2. Running for the sole purpose of catching a bus, trolley, train, etc. unless such distance exceeds half a mile. (Example: you miss a bus, and then chase it for six more stops until you finally catch it).
      3. Running up stairs, regardless of the number of stairs.
      4. Running away from law enforcement officers, international terrorists, zombies, aliens, or your adoring fans.
      5. Running down a pickpocket or purse-snatcher (virtue is its own reward). Exception: If the pickpocket is also a runner and the total distance you both cover exceeds 2 miles, it is acceptable to record that distance as mileage, but only if one of you is wearing a GPS device.
      6. Running in place.
      7. Running in dreams, sadly.
  2.  Methods of Recording Mileage
    1. It is acceptable to record “mileage” in miles (Imperial) or kilometers (Metric), but the system used must remain consistent throughout the log.
    2. The following are the only acceptable standards for mileage precision:
      1. Rounding to the nearest mile/kilometer.
      2. Rounding to the nearest half mile/kilometer.
      3. Rounding to the nearest tenth of a mile/kilometer.
    3. The following methods for recording distance are deemed not acceptable, and referable to the proper authorities/medical personnel:
      1. Recording to the nearest hundredth of a mile/kilometer.
      2. Recording mileage in feet, yards, meters, furlongs, rods, nautical miles, light years, or any other smart-ass units.
  3.  Mileage Inflation
    1. The following forms of mileage inflation are prohibited:
      1. Inflating actual mileage due to snow, flooding, quicksand, or other obstacles and hardships. Example: It is not acceptable to consider yesterday’s 12-mile run in typical Boston slush as a 15-mile run because it felt easily as a bad as last week’s 15-miler.
      2. Inflating actual mileage by estimating distance based the amount of time run, when the basis of the estimate is flat open road pace (FORP) and the run was over rugged terrain. Example: a runner with a FORP of 7:30 per mile is not allowed to consider 90 minutes of running through a jungle as 12 miles.
    2.  When running in the outside lanes of a track, it is permissible to add mileage based on actual mileage run (not simply the mileage as measured along the inside lane), but ONLY if you actually look up or do the math to figure out the actual distance covered when you stay in lane 6.
  4.  Means of Measurement
    1. The following are acceptable means of estimating mileage on unknown courses:
      1. GPS device
      2. Google Maps or other mapping software
      3. Actual printed map and map “wheel”
      4. Actual highway mileage signs or posts
    2.  The following are NOT acceptable means of measuring mileage on unknown courses:
      1. Time running, EXCEPT if some part of the run was timed over a measured distance. Example: You run for 36 minutes and then find yourself on the Boston Marathon course, timing yourself as you run an 8:00 mile (according to the mile marks on the course). You are entitled to estimate the 36 minutes as 4.5 miles.
      2. Being told the distance by someone else, especially a gym teacher. Example: No “gym class” mile is ever accurate unless it is run on a track, and even then it will probably end up being a 1600.

About Jon Waldron

Running and Racing have been important parts of my life for as long as I can remember. I ran Track and Cross Country at Amherst HS, back in the day, and am proud to have been training and competing with the Cambridge Sports Union (CSU) for more than thirty years. If my bones hold out, I hope to continue for another thirty. Sixteen years ago, I began coaching, first as an Asst. Coach at Newton North HS in Newton, MA, and for the past ten years, as Head Track and Cross Country Coach at Concord Academy in Concord, Massachusetts. I've been writing about running for almost as long as I've been running, dating back to high school, when I would write meet summaries for the Amherst Record for about $0.33 per column inch. I've been blogging about running since 2005, and began blogging at "the runner eclectic" in 2014. Until recently I also had a day job, working full-time as a Technical Product Manager for Nuance Communications, based in Burlington, MA. But I am now on what might turn out to be a permanent sabbatical. Thank you for reading my blog, and please consider leaving a comment.
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5 Responses to The Rules for Running Logs

  1. Kevin says:

    Also, you cannot count your long run mileage if you cut inside of the big tree on the Battle Road trail. I feel bad for all those people that have been disqualified from claiming their 12 mile runs in the log by taking the shorter route up that hill.

  2. Jon Waldron says:

    Kevin — I agree. Cutting that tree is a complete DQ for that long run.

    I remember reading somewhere that, in training, Joan Benoit Samuelson always ran the long way around any turn or intersection to avoid any possibility that she was not running the full distance on her runs.

    I also forgot to mention that “running” with crutches doesn’t count. Sorry, Ron Hill!

  3. Mark says:

    Whoa whoa whoa! Jogging recoveries don’t count? My whole world has been turned upside down.

  4. Robin says:

    You have to be scrupulous about distance because of all of the fudging about times. There are track, road, trail, flat, hilly, windy, rabbitted, Clydesdaled, and of course, age-graded times.

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