2020 in review (and a quick 2021 preview)

2020. What a year. I think we’ll all be glad to put it behind us with hopes of a much better 2021.

That said, I did want to take some time to reflect on 2020 at HillRunner.com and offer a sliver of a view of what 2021 might bring. There were disappointments here and not as much got done as I was hoping for in 2020 but HillRunner.com wasn’t at a complete standstill and I hope some things that happened set us up for a more productive 2021.

What happened in 2020?

To start, there were no major changes on HillRunner.com itself. Sadly, no new pages, no refreshed look. However, I was busy working behind the scenes to improve HillRunner.com and lay some groundwork for future improvements (see “What’s coming in 2021?”).

One thing I’m always working on is performance. You may not have noticed but I did make some changes to improve the speed of HillRunner.com. Using Google Analytics, I can report that average page load time improved by just over 27% between November 2019 and November 2020. While factors out of all of our control can play a role in this, there were changes I implemented that accounted for at least some of this improvement and I hope this makes the site more usable for everyone.

Beyond that, there have been some security updates that I’m going to be intentionally vague about but let’s say it’s harder for hackers to get in than it ever has been. I place a high value in your trust and in the data, whether yours or not, that HillRunner.com holds.

What you’ve been reading in 2020

In the past, I’ve shared some of the blog posts I thought were best. This year, I’m going to see what you thought were best, based on how many times people have been reading them. These are the most viewed blog posts, regardless of when they were published, on HillRunner.com in 2020.

  • Treadmill Pace Conversions FAQ: No surprise, given that the conversions chart is by far the most popular page on the site, the FAQ on that page is the top blog post. It always is.
  • Speed = stride length * stride rate. Period.: I’m a little surprised to see this post from 2016 show up second. It must be doing well in Google. That said, it’s the first post in what I consider to be a valuable series. If you haven’t checked it out, this is your chance!
  • Combat boots vs. running shoes, more evidence that more running is good for you: I’m even more surprised by this one. Maybe the provocative title gets clicks? This is an even older recap, dating to the original HillRunner.com Blog. The moral of these two stories: maybe the shoes you wear make less of a difference than you think in terms of injury risk and yes, more running is good for you.
  • Winter running: Another one that’s been around a while but I resurface every November. I don’t know, maybe people just want to hear from a guy who’s run through decades worth of Wisconsin winters on how to run through the winter?
  • SMART goals for the runner: Ah, I remember this one, from about a year ago. SMART goals are talked about a lot in the business world. I had been hearing the term everywhere at the time so I decided it would be worth exploring how to make them work for running. This probably didn’t work out so well for 2020 but maybe 2021?

Well, that was interesting. I suppose I shouldn’t be totally surprised that nothing written in 2020 was the most viewed in 2020. All of these posts have had time to get indexed by search engines and have been available for the entirety of the year so they have an advantage over more recent content. Anyway, it’s interesting to look back at what you’ve been reading. It will be interesting in coming years to see how this list changes or stays the same.

But what about posts written in 2020?

But what did I write in 2020 that you’ve been reading? Again, things from earlier in the year have an advantage but I did take a deeper look to find some of 2020’s most read content.

  • Weight management: eat healthy and move: I remember writing this one. I was a little nervous with recent news about eating disorders in runners. The topic still leaves me a little squeamish. But I believe in the advice. Eat healthy, don’t starve yourself but don’t overeat, and move regularly.
  • What makes a good training plan?: There are a lot of paths to success. This was a high level look at what these paths have in common. The short explanation: whatever allows you to be consistent.
  • Running during a pandemic: Of course. We couldn’t get through 2020 without one of the most read topics being about the pandemic. This is what I wrote on it just as all heck was first breaking loose in March. After reading through that, I feel like I just came back out of a time warp. However, I think overall the advice I had there holds up pretty well.

What’s coming in 2021?

Well, as I think 2020 has shown all of us, make no promises about what the future will hold. I’ve always tried to do that when it comes to HillRunner.com because one of the things I most want to do is be nimble. If an opportunity or need presents itself, I want to be able to turn on a dime. That said, I do have a couple of things in the pipeline that, as of now, I intend to complete in 2021.

First, I have a new calculator I want to work on. I don’t want to share too many details yet but I hope that, once it’s up, it will become one of the more popular parts of the site.

Second, I am playing around with a different look for the site. It won’t be a major change that will leave you having to learn where everything is. However, I think it will offer a more modern look with an even better focus on the content. Also, for those of you who like dark themes, the one I’m currently looking at offers a dark theme.

Finally, I’d like to ask you what you’d like to see at HillRunner.com in 2021. If you could choose any one thing you’d like to see added or improved here at HillRunner.com, what would it be? Feel free to drop in a comment or use the contact form to let me know privately. I’m open to any ideas.

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