Day One as Running Diary

When I wrote about running with my Apple Watch two weeks ago, I mentioned in a footnote that “entering run notes into Day One” was a key reason I preferred keeping my phone on me. I’d like to elaborate on that just a small bit.

In case you don’t know, Day One is a journaling app for iOS and Mac. You can file your writings by date, tag posts, add a photo and even add numerous bits of metadata to each piece. Your location, the weather, what music you’re listening to and whether or not you were walking, driving or sitting still can all be attached to each entry. It’s like your own private little blog (it can even become a public blog if you like).1

While I have done plenty of writing in Day One, lately I tend to do most of my writing either in a Field Notes memo book or in Ulysses on my Mac. But Day One is still one of my most used apps. I’ve been using it for over a year2 as a running diary. Every time I run I create an entry with a photo (usually a selfie) and a few words about how I felt during the run. I always add the tag “Running” to these so I can keep track.

Now, RunKeeper can hold all of this information pretty well too. Each run can have a photo and a note attached to it. I tend to upload photos to RunKeeper as well, and will sometimes add a short note. The truth is that, while RunKeeper does an incredible job displaying and tracking data related to exercise, it’s not great at displaying anything personal. It’s a colder app, which is fitting since it needs to be as reliable as a stopwatch. But for storing and retrieving how running makes me feel I need something more personal, more beautiful. Day One fits the bill.

Here are screen grabs of what my Day One “Timeline” (left) and “Photos” (right) views look like today.

Inside Day One

Somewhere around the end of my run, I take a photo of myself. I may use filters in VSCO Cam, but more often I’ve been enjoying Apple’s built-in photo filters. As I cool down I create a new Day One photo entry and tap out a few notes.3 I may include my split times, or I may just talk about how I feel and what in my life may have caused the run to go the way it did (e.g. too little sleep, a heavy meal). Sometimes it has almost nothing to do with running, as when I spotted a dog that had ventured out of his owner’s yard and I helped him get back home.

This is where Day One really shines over something like RunKeeper. I run for many reasons; going faster and further are only a small part of that. Running is now part of my routine. It’s part of (most of) my days. There is a macro view of the thoughts I have while running and what the long-term effects it has on my health and demeanor that Day One allows me to track. No other tool comes close.

  1. When I get the urge to tweet something that I really shouldn’t, I type it into Day One and tag it as “Untweet.” I like to think this has kept me out of more than a few shouting matches. ↩︎

  2. First running entry: November 15, 2013. ↩︎

  3. Day One also offers an excellent Watch app that allows me to pre-populate a post with a “Running” tag and the most recent photo. I don’t really use this though as I’m so used to actually typing out the entry as I create it. ↩︎