Year on year improvement

Many (serious) runners keep some sort of running log, containing details of all of their runs – often including some or all of the following pieces of information – distance covered, time taken, how it felt, heart rate (if you wear an HRM), weather, etc. etc.

One of the best things about taking time completing your running log is that you can look back at it and see how things have (or have not) worked over time.  Perhaps if training for a half marathon race you can look back at the kind of training you have done in the past – decide what worked and what didn’t and try and tailor your training to make things better.  There’s no point just writing down your training if you’re never going to look back at it and try and get something back from it.

So, Tuesday night was training night at Ranelagh Harriers.  Fortunately I’ve been able to make it to training for the past few weeks and I really wanted to go this evening as a great session was planned – one that is known as “Killingley Loops”.  A great hill session devised by club member Phil Killingley – a rather quick runner (winner of the Ranelagh Half Marathon in 2006 with a time of 70:30, and in the 2008 London Marathon finished a rather respectable 55th overall with a time of 2:29:45).

Anyway, where I am I going with this…  The session consists of a number of ‘loops’ (just inside Richmond Park near to Petersham Gate), starting with a tough uphill, a less-tough flat (and bumpy) part and then a fast downhill to complete the lap.  You then get 90 seconds recovery and then get to do it all over again (and again, and again)!

I’ve run this session now three times, in August 2007 (4 loops), September 2007 (5 loops) and then again tonight, in August 2008 (5 loops).  Each loop is about 1.17 miles.

Looking back at my logs in August last year for 4 loops my average time was 8 minutes 11.  A month later over 5 loops I averaged 8:23 (understandably a touch slower although my time on one lap was slower as it was getting quite dark I recall!).  This evenings session, including a moment when I managed to slip and fall on wet ground my average over 5 loops was 7 minutes 52.  It was a really tough session – the ground was wet in places, the wind was blowing but I had a good run.  Looking at the overhead image of the route, one (very important) thing that it doesn’t show is the hills we were running around.  Trust me, its not an easy course.

Being able to look back at your training logs to see that you’re making improvements makes the hard work worthwhile.  Finally, for anyone wondering, I’ve been using this training log for the past couple of years, but my split times and the map came from my Garmin 305 GPS, which is all stored using Ascent software.

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