Bullet Journal :: Running and Fitness

“In this age of online everything, many runners track their training digitally by syncing their watches to the cloud. But thanks in part to Instagram and Pinterest, an analog alternative is trending.”

Runner’s World May 2017

We runners love our gadgets. We have our Garmins and our Polar heart monitors and our tunes and our apps and the rest of the digital support we need to catalog our training, our heart rates, our calorie consumption, our moods, our sleep…you name it.

But those aren’t always the best tools to track how we’re doing on our workouts.

Those aren’t the ones that get the distance, the pace, the motivation into our minds in a way that sticks. And a lot of psychologists agree that nothing does that like putting pen on paper. I’d give you a citation on this, but my mother is the newly elected president of the WPA so I likely got it from her. #mymomrocks

The latest issue of Runner’s World has the coach’s take on why writing down your workouts rather than keeping them digitally is an effective strategy. And it also has a lot of great examples of running bullet journal formats, including one of mine. Are you sick of hearing about this yet? If so, I’m sorry, because I’m really excited about it!

I’ve shown you around here before how I’ve used Bullet Journaling to plan out meals, grocery lists, and recipes, and how I’ve used it to plan travel. And now, we’re going to talk about how you can use it as a fitness tracking tool!


Bullet Journal Basics

To start off, if you’re not familiar with bullet journaling, check out the video. If you’re looking for ways to keep organized without having to buy a fancy planner, this just might change your life.


Find a Notebook.

So, you can use anything for a Bullet Jouranl. You can go and buy a fancy Leuchtturm1917 notebook or a Moleskine or you can use what you’ve got.

I have a varied collection at this point. My primary planner is a Moleskine day planner where I basically just track events and tasks, and occasionally track meals and fitness when I only want to carry one book {e.g. on trips}. I have a Harry Potter notebook from Barnes & Noble that carries all the scribbles and ideas that eventually turn into posts for this blog, along with my blog business plan and design notes. And finally, I have a green notebook that should be familiar to my Army brethren that I use to track all things fitness and nutrition. It’s pretty basic, but it works.

BuJo Running and Fitness

Photograph by Mitch Mandel

Runner’s World was interested in the quote and the design. The design was just a doodle that I made while trying to do some other calligraphy, but it turned into an illustration for one of my favorite workout quotes:

“Sweat is magic. Cover yourself in it daily to grant your wishes.”

I led off with that because I wanted running to be a positive experience if nothing else. I didn’t want to load myself up with hard work and pushing through pain quotes because then I’d end up dreading it. If I thought about it as this magic transformative thinking time, it was a lot easier to start looking forward to my daily workout.

Is there science behind this? Who knows? But it works for me!

Long Term Planning.

Bullet Journal Running

Photograph by Mitch Mandel

I started a couple of tracking pages at the beginning of the year to give myself a one-stop-shop for major fitness events. The only things missing off here are my Army physical fitness tests, one in May and one in October. But I think with all this work, I’ll be prepared. I’ve even added a few races since this picture was taken.


If you’re interested in our race calendar for the year, you can find it here!


The second page outlines my training plan for my first race of the year, the Rock ‘n’ Roll Half Marathon in March. I use, as you all might know by now, Hal Higdon’s training plans, so I just took the training plan I’m using and spread it over the calendar leading up to my race. I do a page like this for each of the races I’m running, even if I don’t have much time in between them {I did the Cherry Blossom 10M just a couple weeks after the Rock ‘n’ Roll}.

Goals and Other Trackers

Photo by Kristin Saling

I keep a number of other trackers in my fitness bullet journal, but one of the most important ones is my shoe tracker. I usually have two or three pairs of running shoes I rotate through, just so they can have a chance to breathe between runs. And I trade out my shoes after about 250 miles so my knees don’t start hurting. That’s normally when I find that the cushioning in my shoes dies, so that’s when they basically become yardwork shoes or walking around the neighborhood shoes or, occasionally, just plain trash shoes.

I have three pairs I’m going through right now – Blue Mizunos, White Ghosts {my absolute favorite so far} and Blue and Pink Adidas. I need to update this tracker, because my Adidas are now up to about 80 miles {I also track shoes on my RunKeeper App}.

I also like keeping track of my motivation for why I run, just in case I ever need to remind myself why I’m getting out there and lacing up my running shoes.

Monthly Overview

I do my monthly overview much the same as I showed you in my other BuJo posts, but this time I changed out my “steps” column for a “race” column, so I can track when my races are. I have two this month, the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler and the Kentucky Derby Half Marathon. I also have a lot of travel going on this month, so this is a great way to make sure I build my running plans both to ramp up properly for my races and accommodate travel.

On this page, I also included my goals and a small goal tracker. I normally log between 30 and 40 miles in a month, and this month I want to make sure I hit 50. Right now, it doesn’t look like it’s going to be an issue!

Photograph by Mitch Mandel

This older version shows another monthly tracker I used to keep, of my miles run and steps taken. I haven’t kept up with this one like I’d like to. I know I have all my steps in my Health App, but there’s something very satisfying about seeing them all together on paper.

Weekly Layouts

I’ve gone through a bunch of different weekly layouts. I started with this version, which was a cross between my meal tracker layout you saw previously and my old fitness tracker. I wasn’t quite keen on this layout, because it didn’t give me a lot of room to take notes.

I tried this version then, where I created a template, printed it out, and taped it into my journal to update as needed. I did like the aspect of seeing what was planned vs. what we did and being able to write in all my workouts, but it just didn’t feel right.

Lately, this is the template I’ve been using. It modified the printed version I made into something I could draw into my Bullet Journal and update as I went. So last week, this is what I ate and this is how I worked out. The blue represents home cooked meals, the purple represents something I bought and microwaved, and the red represents meals that were either eaten out or take away.

The workouts are kind of wimpy this week. I blame it a little bit on recovering from the Cherry Blossom Ten Miler, but also on my work schedule. Between work and work travel, work is taking up a lot of my time and I need to get better about making time for fitness.


So that’s how I use my Bullet Journal to plan and track my fitness! One of these days, I’ll have to share my cross-training program with you so you know what the glutes + calves and upper body sets look like. Before I do that, though, I’m going to consult with some experts. Because although I like to workout a lot, I am not a professional.

So what do you all think? How do you guys track your fitness?

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