Admin note: Updated server software

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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I just wanted to throw out a quick update. Some system software on the server HillRunner.com runs on is getting updated. I have some time right now where I can run HillRunner.com on either the old software or the new software. I’m choosing to test out the new software now while we can roll back to the old as I troubleshoot if any issues come up.

My initial tests show everything working fine but, if you see anything that doesn’t appear to be working right, please let me know. In the short term, I can switch back to the older version while I determine what is going on. In the meantime, if everything is running well, we should see performance, security and stability improvements.

Thanks for your understanding as we go through this necessary update.

15 years of HillRunner.com!

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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Wow, it’s hard to believe. 15 years ago today, I registered the domain HillRunner.com. I was just looking for a place to host my personal running page that had outgrown the student page I was previously using. Over the years, it has turned into much more.

Things have changed quite a bit since the beginning and things will continue to change as time goes on. It feels very appropriate actually that, just earlier this week, I was able to announce the new partnership between the Seattle Marathon and HillRunner.com and we can start a new era here as we celebrate 15 years.

I don’t have a whole lot to announce to celebrate 15 years. That said, I have been working on a project recently that I’ve been interested in doing for years. Don’t be surprised if, in the next month or two, you show up at HillRunner.com to find things looking different. I hope you will like what’s coming! In the meantime, thanks for sticking around for 15 years and I hope we have many more years of learning about running and sharing the lessons we’ve learned along the way to come.

Fittingly, I’m scheduling this to appear as I’m lining up for a race. Yes, I’m racing on HillRunner.com’s 15th "birthday". What better way to celebrate?

Announcing an exciting partnership with the Seattle Marathon

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

I’m very excited to announce that HillRunner.com will be partnering with the Amica Insurance Seattle Marathon to provide their runners with the opportunity to receive personalized training plans or online coaching.

Seattle Marathoners will have the opportunity to sign up for the full service online coaching that is available to everyone at HillRunner.com or a streamlined "Plan Builder" option for those who want some help designing a training plan but don’t want the constant contact and monitoring that comes with the standard coaching service.

Not only is this a great opportunity for both myself and Seattle Marathoners, though. There will also be some exciting new services available to everyone! Beginning in April, I will be participating in Twitter Chats hosted by the Seattle Marathon. Beginning in May, we will begin hosting Google Hangouts, which will be archived for after the fact viewing/listening on YouTube and likely iTunes. While we may do some Google Hangouts just for those who sign up for the coaching service, we will also be doing some that will be available to the public!

It’s possible as we build our partnership that more services will be added as we explore all options to connect with both Seattle Marathoners and the greater running community.

I’m very excited for these great opportunities and honored that the Seattle Marathon Association has chosen me to partner with them to offer these services. I hope you will check out the new offerings that will be coming thanks to our partnership. I’ll be sure to keep everyone updated as we begin scheduling chats and hangouts.

Admin note: blog home pagination

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

Because so many posts were on the homepage of the blogs, it was beginning to take some time for that page to load and it was a bit difficult to wade through that page.

In order to alleviate this problem, I added pagination to the homepage. You will see 10 posts per page and you can use the navigation just below the last post in a page to scroll through other pages or jump to the beginning or end.

Over time, I will add to the navigation capabilities but this should allow for faster load times, make the homepage less overwhelming, and still allow the ability to see the complete history of the blogs in the meantime.

2014 at HillRunner.com

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

I’ll get back into blogging about running soon. First, I wanted to look forward into 2014 to share what I envision happing at HillRunner.com and request input on what you might like to see. A quick note, I’m not going to get into what I plan to blog about or what I plan to do within the coaching sphere. This is simply about what is going to be done to the site itself.

Blogs

Obviously, the big addition in 2013 was the blogs. I feel the blogs in their current state are functional and useful but there are several things I think would make them more convenient. What I view as the highest priority items:

  • More "robust" profile pages: Our current profile pages are functional but simple. I’d like to expand on what we have to make these profile pages more suitable entry pages for your own personal blog. I’d like these to be links you can share on your social networks or to friends in other ways and proudly proclaim "This is my blog!" I have some ideas of what can be done for this but I’m also open to ideas if anyone has some.
  • Date navigation/search functionality: Whether the blogs as a whole or your own personal blog, things are growing. As such, I need to develop a better way to organize the posts that already exist and make it easier for all of us to find what we’re looking for.
  • Several smaller improvements: From the ability to schedule a post to tying your profile to social networks, I have a lot of things in mind.

Training Log

As other things kept coming up, the training log has gotten shortchanged. I want to make sure it gets at least some attention in 2014. I have a couple things in mind:

  • Modify Workout functionality: This has been "pending" for way too long. It’s time for me to bite the bullet and just get it done. Of my to do list that will likely be impossible to fully complete this year, this is the one that I’ll say if I don’t get it done by the end of 2014, call me on it and demand I get it done.
  • More ways to view your log: I have a lot of ideas for anything from finally implementing a monthly view to all kinds of cool analytics that could be done with the data you’re entering.

HillRunner.com in general

I have several things I’d like to to for the site in general, including:

  • Making the site more mobile friendly: I played around with the News section with dynamic coding to create mobile friendly pages. I’m not a big fan. I’m now looking into creating one standard interface that will adjust on the fly to be mobile friendly. You may have noticed some styling changes over time. Most were made to be more mobile friendly but I think also make the site less cluttered and more readable in general. This will continue. In addition, there may be some bigger changes coming.
  • Streamlining the site: You may have noticed some sections (Calendar, Links) getting phased out. Or maybe you haven’t because you weren’t using them. These sections just didn’t make sense. They got virtually no traffic and were more work to maintain than they were worth. I’m going to continue evaluating every portion of the site and either working to improve it to make it more valuable or phasing it out.

As you can see, I have a lot of things in mind. Not all of them will get done in 2014. This isn’t a full time job for me and I have to balance coding with blogging and coaching. That said, I’m going to have this to do list in front of me and I’m going to get some of these things done.

So what do you think? How would you prioritize the ideas above? Anything I didn’t list that you think should be listed? As always, I want to give you what you want so input is greatly appreciated.

2013: HillRunner.com Blogs Review

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

I know everyone does this and it can get old but there’s a reason everyone does this. It’s always interesting to reflect at the end of the year on what happened. What most grabbed your interest and what most had you commenting?

Most viewed posts in 2013:

You DO deserve a coach!

Man who killed Henry Dennis while driving drunk gets 90 days jail

29% of surveyed athletes at 2011 World Championships admitted to doping

Big news morning in the US

The 2:00 marathon barrier

From a broad perspective, it’s interesting to see the topics that garnered the most attention. Unfortunately, more bad news stories than I’d prefer to see but also some analysis I thought would be interesting is in there and a post I made based on some personal experiences topped the list.

Most commented on posts in 2013:

Starting a running blog

Thoughts on GPS watches after 6 months with one

Doping with thyroid medication?

Man who killed Henry Dennis while driving drunk gets 90 days jail

We will overcome

This is interesting to see the topics that spurred the most interaction. Again, more bad news than I’d care to see but that’s not totally surprising. Also some analysis on a hot button issue and, leading the way, Charlene’s introduction of her own blog.

It’s been a fascinating first year at the HillRunner.com Blogs. I plan to continue posting about the diverse topics you see above in 2014 and I hope to see some of you posting your own thoughts. Looking forward to 2014!

Site maintenance

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

I just wanted to give everyone an update.

If you visited HillRunner.com at just the wrong time this evening, you may have found it unavailable. I was attempting to perform a routine security update. These usually take 1-2 minutes and happen seamlessly. Well, this one didn’t.

HillRunner.com was unavailble for a short time (approximately 10 minutes) shortly after 5:30 pm Central. Until a little before 7:30 pm Central, the Forums were cosmetically affected. The sidebar was missing and a few other small things were not in place.

The good news is that all is working again now. You should encounter no issues anywhere on HillRunner.com any longer. If you do, please let me know. You can reply here, use the contact form you can find in the left sidebar or message me from the forums.

As always, I appreciate your visits. I’m sorry for any inconvenience this may have caused.

A few administrative notes

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

I’m sorry about no post last week. I intended to but I got sidetracked on a few other projects for the site and I simply ran out of time. A post will be coming later this week. I’m going to probably settle into a routine of normally posting weekly on either Wednesday or Thursday.

So what was I working on last week that prevented me from getting the post done? Three things primarily:

1) Comment links are now more intuitive: If you clicked on comment links previously, you probably noticed that they weren’t the most intuitive. They should now perform more as you would expect. If you click on a link to a comment, instead of going to the top of the comments section, you’ll go directly to the comment you clicked from. I hope that makes sense. If not, click a few links and it will probably make more sense.

2) Blogger RSS feeds: Later this week, you’ll be able to click through to a blogger’s profile page (such as mine) and the profile page will include links to RSS feeds for an individual’s posts or comments. This means that, if you wish, you don’t have to subscribe to all posts or all comments if you want to follow a specific person and not the blogs as a whole. I’ll comment here when these links are available.

3) New HillRunner.com singlets and shirts! To me, the most exciting thing I got sidetracked with last week. I finalized the design last week and will be placing an order Thursday evening. Designs are below. Do you want one? Two ways to get one for free right now. Either sign up for online coaching or join Team HillRunner.com at Al’s Run. If you do either, please let me know before Thursday evening what you would like (singlet, women’s singlet, short sleeve, women’s short sleeve, long sleeve) and what size. I’m also going to get some extras for giveaways and in case anyone wants to buy one (at a reasonable price, I’m not looking to profit on these).

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Note on upcoming blog posts

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

With the blog available, the "Articles" section of the site seems a bit redundant. I’m going to copy/rewrite the articles posted there into blog posts and redirect links to these posts. Eventually, the Articles section will be going away.

This means you will probably see some topics come up here that seem familiar. Some will be extensively rewritten as known facts have changed or my understanding of the facts have changed. Others will be largely untouched.

New features added to the blogs – and more coming!

This article was originally posted by Ryan at the original HillRunner.com Blogs.

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I’ve added some new features to the HillRunner.com Blogs over the weekend that should make it more robust as the blogs grow. Some of what you will see now:

Profiles: You can now update your profile (if you’re logged in) or view profiles (here’s mine). You’ll also notice that, when viewing someone’s profile, you will also see their most recent posts and comments.

Recent posts and comments: You can now view recent posts and comments in the right sidebar. This should help you keep up with what’s happening on the blogs. More features to keep updated on what’s happening will be coming in the near future. This has now become my top priority.

Recent posts on the HillRunner.com homepage: Recent comments will be added soon. Tip for those of you who want to keep up with what is going on throughout HillRunner.com: Make heavy use of the homepage. That is going to become your one stop location for updates on both the forums and the blogs, as well as other site-wide news.

Coming in the near future: More notification options for updated content on the blogs. Most notably, I’m looking into an email notification system.

Do you have any ideas? If you have an idea for what would make the HillRunner.com Blogs better that I haven’t mentioned here or elsewhere, feel free to bring them up. I’m very open to any and all ideas to make the blogging/reading experience here the best it can be.