Measuring Training by the Hour(s)

So this being the inaugural post of my new blog, I feel like I should share one of my resolutions for this year.

As I mentioned in my little “about me” section, I have only taken up running seriously in the past year, and trail running in the last 8 months. I’m a total rookie in this world still! However, It is highly addictive. With 3 50km races and 1 50 miler on the calendar for this year, I’d say there’s no hope for me now. 😉

Seek the peak, 2013  My very first trail race series and a fav course!
Seek the peak, 2013
My very first trail race series and a fav course!

I have found myself thinking recently: “Well if I can go this far with the training I’m doing now, what happens if I take it up a notch or two??” So. This is my goal for 2014. Take it up a notch or two. And maybe keep track of my progress along the way… both as an accountability measure, and as a means of determining what is working for me and what isn’t.

I started January with this intention, and have been faithfully tracking my kilometers on a paper calendar that I hang above my desk at work. However, I ran into a couple of problems pretty quickly. First off, it is hard to accurately track km’s when you don’t own anything more sophisticated than a Nike app on an iphone. Pretty sure the GPS on my city-slicker sidekick is constantly “lost” whenever I go anywhere near a trail.

Secondly, I’ve been doing more hiking than running in the past few weeks, trying to get lots of low impact cardio in and rehab some lingering knee pain that refuses to go away. This is all fine and dandy… except that writing 3.5km down as my mileage for the day, despite doing a solid hour’s worth of exertion up the side of Grouse Mountain, doesn’t quite feel like it captures my training fully.

As I thought about it more, tracking my kilometers really didn’t seem to make the most sense. After all, anyone who has run trails knows that 8km on trails is a wayyy different story (and can take twice as long and be twice as painful!) as running that same distance on the road (plus any elevation gain/loss, slippery single track routes and potential creek crossings one might easily encounter during that distance).

I know that everyone has a different method of tracking their training, and if I had the budget capacity to get an accurate read on my mileage (hello, $700 unattainable Suunto watches!), I might just stick with tracking my km’s. However, since I made the switch to logging hours several weeks ago (although I still like to make a note of my mileage if I have that data available), I feel that this is a better reflection of where I am at with my fitness levels. My goal right now is endurance running, which essentially boils down to how much time I spend on my feet preparing for the 6-10+ hours it might take me to finish a race course. The km’s will naturally happen as the hours logged on the trails increase. At least that’s the plan, stan!