Using Excel to log your running

Like many runners, I like to track my workouts. It’s a fun way to set goals, celebrate accomplishments and keep myself accountable. I used to do this with a little notebook. But that’s tedious and requires the frequent use of a calculator to see how I’m doing. So, at the beginning of 2010 I made an Excel spreadsheet. I’m not sure why, but I have a thing for spreadsheets.  I use one for novel organization as well.

It took a little time to set up, but once it was done it’s been super easy to input information after each workout and have the program do all the math for me. Then I can see a lot at a glance, from weekly and yearly mileage to minutes spent cross-training and how I felt during a particular run. I know you can use online software to record runs, but my spreadsheet also includes information I wouldn’t post for the viewing public, like my weight, which I’ve erased in the example below. I also record notes about how I feel and the various joys and frustrations that come with a fitness lifestyle.

Anyway, today I added a new tab for the new year and I’m changing a few things. But first, let’s take a look at my 2011 spreadsheet.  (Click the picture to enlarge it.)

  1. Header: I freeze the top two rows so they are always visible when I scroll through the year.
  2. Stopwatch Time: This column is for run times. The cells in this column must be set up as h:mm:ss format for the pace formula to work in the next column. Then, I enter my time after any given run. A 45 minute, 12 second run, for example, would be entered as 00:45:12.
  3. Pace: The cells in this column must be set up as mm:ss format. Then you put in the function that figures out pace, which is time divided by mileage:  =SUM(E234/D234).
    Once you put the formula in the top cell, you can drag it into the rest of the cells or copy and paste it and the row number will update automatically. Then, when you enter mileage and time you don’t have to figure out pace. It does it for you. Pretty cool.
    NOTE  If I don’t know the mileage for a particular run, I’ll map it on www.walkjogrun.com or www.mapmyrun.com.
  4. Races: I like to bold races so I can find them quickly when scrolling through the spreadsheet.
  5. Yearly Mileage and Cross Training Totals: At the top of the spreadsheet I keep track of my yearly mileage and the number of minutes I’ve cross-trained (yoga, kick boxing, etc.,). Both are simple addition formulas. Since I enter all my mileage in column D, my mileage formula is =SUM(D3:D365). This tells the program to add all the cells from D3 to D365. Similarly, since I enter minutes of cross training in column J, that formula is =SUM(J2:J365). It’s nice to see those numbers at a glance, especially since I set a yearly mileage goal.
  6. Cross Training Minutes: This is where I enter cross training minutes for the day. I format these cells as general number format since they didn’t add correctly as h:mm:ss format. This means, however, I must enter the minutes as a round number. If I kick box for an hour and ten minutes I enter 70 in this cell.
  7. Weekly Mileage: I set this cell to add up my miles for the week, with my week being Sunday through Saturday. Again, it’s a simple addition formula. For this particular cell its =SUM(D233:D239). To speed entering the formula for the whole year I input the first full week of the year, then highlight that week and drag it to the bottom. This auto-populates the formula and automatically changes the row number so I don’t have to enter it 52 times.
  8. Tabs: As you can see I have tabs for each year I’ve been doing this, plus an individual tabs for marathon training schedules and my personal records. I don’t look at these tabs often but it’s handy when I want to see how I compare to myself.

Now, there are many ways to modify this spreadsheet. The first year, for example, I kept track of which pair of shoes I was wearing so I could see when I was nearing their mileage threshold. That was a bit tedious so I stopped. Now I just look at the tread.

For 2012 I’m adding two columns. One for #PlankADay and one for push ups. Since I’ve added planks and push ups to my post-run routine, I want to see how many I can do in 2012. Hopefully a lot.

NOTE  This explanation assumes a basic knowledge of Excel and how it uses formulas. But if you want more information or have trouble making this work for your spreadsheet, just leave me a comment and I’ll go into more detail.

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  • jte521

    Sounds like you’re Type A like me – I love it! Happy New Year.

  • Or a just a wee bit obsessive. 🙂 But aren’t most runners?

    • Jen

      My husband (a sporadic runner) doesn’t keep track of his mileage at all and it drives ME nuts! I’m constantly asking him how it doesn’t bother him that he has no idea how far he’s run. But he is not a data nerd like I am – or someone who loves running. 🙂

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  • Jesse Avalos

    Thank you Jill for an Awesome article! It was the exact information I have been looking for to set up my own excel based tracker sheet with pace breakdown.