Friday, August 9, 2013

Captain's Log, Stardate 08102013

Early in its run, the opening lines of the Star Trek television series evolved to this:

“Space: the final frontier. These are the voyages of the starship Enterprise. Its five-year mission: to explore strange new worlds, to seek out new life and new civilizations, to boldly go where no man has gone before.”

The opening was followed by a commercial break and finally the episode began, with these words:

“Captain’s log, stardate 9529.1," or whatever the “star date” of the episode happened to be.

The importance of the Captain's Log cannot be overstated.  In fact, without the Captain's Log there would have been no story.  Instead there would have been a jumble of random recollections of a group of space vagabonds that might have lasted half a season.

I've recently been reminded of the power of the principle of the Captain's Log.   I've always maintained a running log, but I've done it out of habit.  The habit was born when my running mentor, Carl Touchstone, insisted that I keep the log, so I did, though I didn't know why, beyond the fact that Carl said do it.

For the first five weeks of this year, I maintained the log as I've done for more than thirty years.  Then, for no reason that I can recall, I stopped making the daily entries.  Late in March, I finally noticed that both my mileage and the frequency of my runs were dropping.

I thought it might be the weather, or maybe my shoes, or worst of all, my age. Spring came and the weather changed, but my mileage continued to drop.  I changed shoe models, but my running frequency kept dropping.  I couldn't do anything to slow the calendar, so I dropped age as the reason for my running decline when it occurred to me that I've been aging every day since I started running.

Then I heard the beginning of a Star Trek episode, "Captain's Log, stardate..." and I knew that shoes or weather weren't the problem.  Not maintaining my running log was the problem.

Fortunately, I have another running habit.  I wear a Garmin 405 Runners' Watch with heart monitor and GPS.  The watch records all the details of every run. When I stopped maintaining my running log, I'd also stopped printing out the details of my runs that the watch recorded.  I found all the records, in the Garmin database on my laptop and printed them out.  Then I created an Excel template to record each one and began entering the data: all six plus months of it.

I started the restoration project a few days before the end of July, and I finished it last night, August 8th.  As I recorded the last August entry, I sat back and looked at the August month-to-date spreadsheet and realized that I have not missed a single running day (ideally I run three days and take one day off) since I started catching up my running log. I laughed when I heard Touchstone, from the back of my mind, saying, "See, Carson, didn't I tell you.  Keep a log and don't miss a single day making an entry in it."

The Captain's Log principle applies to all endeavors that matter.  Whether we call our record a journal or a diary, running log or even a daily blog post, the principle is the same.  Without a record of our voyage, we might as well have stayed at home.

CAPTAIN'S LOG, STARDATE 08092013.1