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Half-mile hill repeats with a side of high school training log nostalgia.


I creaked out of bed this morning for eight repeats of a hill in my neighborhood. The entire section is just over a half-mile long and it’s a mix of flat regions with mild climbs.

If you look closely at the screenshot, you can see that I do these repeats on "Sleepy Hollow Rd." It's easy to run fast when you imagine that ax-wielding scary pumpkin dude chasing you.

Yeah, so, not very extreme on the grade, but nice for longer stuff.

I’ve been doing repeats here since high school, so it’s a useful stretch for speed workouts and consistency.

My times on the first two repeats were slower than I wanted them to be, so I decided to ignore the watch on the remaining six as long as I could keep my total repeat + recovery time below 7:30, which would push the entire 7.5 miles of repeat + recovery into long tempo territory. I could be satisfied with that.

Afterward, I checked out my half-mile splits (I took them anyway, even though I knew I didn’t want to look at them yet.  Figured it would keep my effort more honest if I knew data would exist, even if I didn’t want to mess with my head by checking it during the workout). Per my usual, it looked as though I’d used the first two repeats as warm-ups and then proceeded to get faster over the course of the rest of the workout, chewing down into 3:10 range. Not amazing but also not bad, considering the stretch has some decent climbs.

Guess I’ll put this down in my training log as a combination hill-tempo workout.

Speaking of training logs, I just picked up my oldest one from high school and starting flipping through it.

How do you log your workouts, and what do you track?

I primarily use my log to track training volume and injuries. Due to cheapness and the craziness it could induce, I don’t have a Garmin or anything fancy. So I estimate mileage based on minutes, and only write down paces if I’m on the track, a treadmill, or a familiar route where I know mile markers. I also chronicle almost any little random ache or pain, just to make sure it isn’t morphing into more. Weather might get a mention. Often I’ll write down a word or two about how I felt about the workout. Pretty standard stuff.

Anyway, back to my first training logs. Hilarious. My first ever entry in a training log was for a hill workout the cross country team did in October of 2002. I was a sophomore in high school. Looking back through the entries, it appears that I routinely ate candy bars before practice. In this one, we see me bragging about winning the first four hills and then drawing up a list of excuses for why I didn’t follow through on the last two. Oops.


On rainy Fridays, we'd do tae-bo. Or have mud fights. I guess October 4th was a tae-bo day.


Fast forward to now. My handwriting has gotten smaller, and I now cram all seven days of the week into one page and tally running mileage, rowing kilometerage, and circuits (c) in the margins, to make the weekly add-ups easier.  


Even though you can't see it anyway, I tried to find a page that didn't have too many swears or bits of embarrassing information.

My apologies: let’s just say my webcam never won any awards for picture quality, and I never won any awards for penmanship.

Do you ever look back at your old training logs? I find them truly useful for tracking injury patterns.

And there’s also tons of comical value, in my case.

There was actually a lot of really golden stuff that’s too illegible to bother screenshotting, but the most hysterical entries either involve insults to my rivals on other teams…

 “_____ whines like a baby in every newspaper interview about all her excuses and she better get ready to whine some more because she is going DOWN tomorrow! GO ELXC!”

 …or random sightings of cross country boys I had crushes on back in the day:

“Saw _______ on the sidelines during State Open and ran a FAST SURGE after I passed by him, it sounded like he was cheering for me!” 


Ah, what focus I had as a youth. Tweaks the ol’ heartstrings.

14 Comments leave one →
  1. 07/27/2010 17:09

    I log my training in an excel spreadsheet. It is oldschool but it works!

  2. 07/27/2010 18:15

    i don’t have a garmin either! i use mapmyrun to estimate distance. i wish i had a garmin but i kind of like being all old school. which is why i love my spiral notebook to record miles, time, route run, HR (taken by my finger and neck) as well as any comments i might have on it.

    • 07/28/2010 16:07

      Good point, I do occasionally hit up mapmyrun for a distance (and pacing) estimate too. There’s satisfaction in keeping it old school and not being encumbered by gadgets or fancy gear. On the other hand, I do think Garmins are wicked useful — I’m afraid to start because I’d definitely get sucked in.

  3. 07/28/2010 08:15

    I never logged any workouts until I started the blog, and now I see the utility in it. I joined this website thingy to further chart them (because my fine motor skillz have atrophied and I can’t hold a pen anymore), and I like it. Although I should probably include more real analysis for how I feel instead of witty comments. All in time.

    • 07/28/2010 15:56

      Hmm, I suspect real analysis might be overrated, whereas witty comments are not.

  4. jbf permalink
    07/28/2010 11:05

    Logs, yesssss. I have notebooks upon notebooks full. I write, like, half page entries for every run. It starts off with usual data like mileage, time, how I felt, etc., and devolves into me saying anything and everything I want. It’s more therapeutic than anything. Often I’ll only do a run so I have a reason to write. Picking a random entry from the most recent notebook:

    Mon, Nov 16th – 4.5 miles, 6:45 pace. Didn’t mean to go that fast, registered for an online poker tournament that was starting ~30 minutes later so I wanted to get back in time for that. I think this week should be fairly easy until the weekend, when I’ll race Saturday morning, easy run Saturday afternoon probably, then 9ish mile for a long run on Sunday.

    • 07/28/2010 16:02

      This is why you need to go to wordpress DOT COM, fashion yourself a silly moniker, and share your therapeutic training entries and random daily thoughts WITH THE WORLDDDDDDD. Or just me and junker. Plz?

      • jbf permalink
        07/28/2010 23:13

        I’ve been sufficiently peer-pressured. But this is harder than it looks, I still gotta find apropos graphics n themes n fonts n stuff. Will report back.

  5. 07/28/2010 11:32

    What’s a training log? LOL

    Hills….ugh. But after reading about them, it makes me want to conquer something.

    In high school XC they’d take us to this rock quarry and we’d just run up and down the gravel hills for two hours. It was horrible.

    • 07/28/2010 16:14

      A training log is — along with the good stuff — a way to become neurotic about the whole thing. Sometimes I feel envious of those who don’t feel any compulsion to write it all down. Oof, gravel + hills together sounds like an easy way to learn to hate running!

  6. 07/28/2010 15:54

    Oh man I wish I kept a written log in high school. How fun to look back!

  7. 07/29/2010 01:15

    Ah, I had notebooks like that in HS. I’m sure they were similarly hilarious. How fun that you still have them!!

    These days I use and generally blab about my workouts on my blog, which keeps me accountable to some extent.

  8. Murdoch permalink
    08/02/2010 19:26

    Ive kept a standard training log since Freshman year and really like posting on A lot of times i’ll flip through my old ones just to remember certain races, or runs that were memorable. I remember doing those hill repeats on East Society out by the highway, I think that have been the day that I led the guys on each one!

    • 08/02/2010 20:12

      Oh man. I’ve poked through strands a bit and it’s definitely for fast people and not for me. In fact, I will now strands-stalk you. Holy god you are fast and, holy god, I am slow. But at least I remember your humble beginnings! Funny how it’s the 2-3-4 runners who still actually run and #1s kinda fell off the radar…

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