Anvil or Hammer

Another way to log

Posted in Technical Update,Toys and tools by Mike on December 12, 2006

I started this log a while back as an attempt to keep a training journal. I stayed with it because I found that it worked exceptionally well for me. I’ve tried most of the usual approaches, buy a workout in a magazine and follow along, write it in a notebook in journal form, write it in just a set/rep breakdown and a couple others. I found that, for me, the blog allowed me to do either or both. It also kept a long term record so I could go back and look at my progress. If I wanted to I could even chart it. It offered me three things that a normal training journal didn’t typically give me:

  1. I can’t lose it – well I can but it’s hard. When I was on gripboard this was especially true. When I took responsibility for myown space, it required a little more maintenance but I still like it
  2. Tracks more than the bare minimum – a lot of times I would barely get my sets and reps written down, so I really had no idea if it felt good, if I wanted to increase next time and so on. In this format, I feel inclined to do a bit more of a narrative, partial because I feel there may be some kind of audience, who wasn’t there, that wants to know. In truth, it has been incredibly helpful to me when looking back at old workouts and planing my next one.
  3. Accountability – I’m sure there are probably some posts that have never been read or aren’t read much. That is ok. I feel like there is someone who has their eye on it so I feel like if I skimp or cheat someone will know.

That said, this blog has a couple shortcomings. The greatest of which is that it’s not that easy to take into the gym so I have something telling me what I’m shooting for today and somewhere to record my totals. Not too long ago, I added a new element to my logging. It was actually started by my inability to see my domain from work but has worked out well so I keep it around.
Google Spreadsheets. I use a lot of google products and this is one that when it came out, I thought it looked useful but couldn’t figure out how. So I left it alone. I experimented with a couple different things and nothing took. Then, one day, I wanted something on paper to take with me to do my workout out. I actually did it in Excel first, which worked really well. Then I realized Excel didn’t quite have the portability I was looking for. So I popped it into Google Spreadsheets and that does the trick. I can work on it at home or the office. Shape it up and print it out.
I built into it formulas that point to each other and calculate pounds of kilos, whichever I don’t enter. It gives me space to record and a clear plan to work from. I haven’t yet closed the loop. I need to go back and record what I did but for now this is working.
I’m not trying to sell anyone on GSpreadsheets. As cool as it would be, I don’t work for them. It’s just another tool that has done the job for me and is available to whomever free of charge. The right tool for the job is very important.

My training spreadsheet


UPDATE: I’m trying my spreadsheet link again. I may have had to “Publish” it first for it to be available to see. When I did that, it changed the URL. Someone let me know if you still can’t see it. Also, it opens to the first page which is my blank page, if you click through the tabs, you can see some pages I actually have filled in.

9 Responses to 'Another way to log'

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  1. Kris said,

    Your training spreadsheet does not appear to be publically available. FWIW, and you might have seen this already, but I wrote my own little script for maintaining a PR matrix called tsampaPRtable. That may not fit your bill, but it’s a nice option to having to maintain and format tables by hand. I’m by nature scared of outsourcing my data and tend to lean towards having everything on my own server where I am ultimately responsible for it. Perhaps unlikely, but what if Google accidentally deleted your stuff or decided they wouldn’t continue with their spreadsheet beta? Burning my feeds with FeedBurner was probably the most courageous thing I did this month. Thanks for mentioning Google Spreadsheets though, will take it for a spin when I have a few minutes. Now off for a nap!

  2. Mike said,


    sorry about the link. I tried to fix it so it should work now. I haven’t yet checked out your web app but opened it in another window and will head that direction after a couple other “intarweb” chores.
    As far as Google losing my data, I’m not too worried about that. They have RAID 5billion type system going on there, it’s pretty stable. The other thing is that the primary goal of that spreadsheet was portability. I can access it from any computer with a decent connection and I can print it from almost any as well. I’m not actually using the spreadsheets as my primary data source, this blog is that. They are more of a formating tool and a method for me to get my plan on paper to take in the gym with me. Although I have considered trying to do something with some of the old junker PDAs at work but haven’t made an effort of that yet.
    Serverwise, sadly, I rent this server space. I want to bring it in house but I haven’t yet taught myself to run a decent LAMP server. The PC I have that I would run it on is a junker but would probably get by. It would make me want to get some kind of backup, in the likely event of an outage, i would have nothing at this point.

  3. Kris said,

    Yup, the link works now. Looking swell!

    I guess my issue is mostly with the principle of having your data somewhere where someone else can on a whim or by accident do anything with it. I recognize that I may be a bit paranoid, but I would definitively not feel very secure if I would have blogged my three years of Under the Bar with, say, Blogger which theoretically could discontinue my blog or their service at will. It is not unknown for blogs to be deleted by accident, heck it happened to the official googleblog at Blogger! For similar reasons, I prefer not to use Youtube for my video content despite the fact that it would save my bandwidth (not that I don’t have enough) and increase blog visibility – imagine what hassle would ensue if Youtube for some reason discontinued their service or changed their URL structure.. or worse, started putting ads before my training videos. With all content sitting in one place, I can do periodic backups of the whole thing and know that I am not missing my photos on Flickr or whatever. I submit that I may be technologically backwards for not taking advantage of all the new cool services out there, but I sleep a lot better at night now knowing that I control all my stuff all the way down to my DNS servers. I rather blame myself for an accidental “rm -rf *” than to see Blogger having wiped my blog.

    On the flipside, being self-reliant is very time consuming and has come with a very steep learning curve even for someone like me who considers himself part-time geek. If you run a dedicated server and really want to bolt everything down, it takes a lot of reading up on everything from firewalling via e-mailing to chrooting essential services (I like to run all domains in their own jails with their own web server). Then again, it is not too hard to set up a basic LAMP server if you are comfortable with just running one of those super duper control panels that are empowered to touch any aspect of your server via a monolithic web interface. The rewards of being king of your own castle are potentially great, but for most people not running a hungry website the extra $100 or so you shell out a month (if renting) in addition to all the extra administration, lack of a help desk that can solve your problems and so on are not just worth it. Then again, if you have your own server you can add lots of goodies to it, such as RAID-1, that are not that often found in rented web spaces.

    It’s quite amazing on what kind of hardware you can serve up a not too heavily trafficked domain; bet your old PC would be more than enough. You can always get a backup account somewhere (like Acunett) and just use a cron script to periodically do an automated backup. I envy you for having the option of running your server locally, that is still the missing link for me to have the server where I can touch it. Having your own hardware will cut costs tremendously, although you will probably not be able to get any spare part that breaks within 20 minutes… but again, that may not be all that important in the big scheme of things. Like you say, get the right tool for the job.

    End of rant. 😉

    [ For some strange reason, this comment seems to be rejected by your WordPress installation, tried it several times. I believe last time I posted something with more than one link in it, I was notified that it was in the moderation queue, but this one just seems to bounce off without any notice. Am trying to remove the links to see if that works. If duplicates turn up, feel free to prune. ]

  4. Kris said,

    Ok. I have determined that the problem is with the link to the story about googleblog being deleted by accident. Tried posting only that link, but it didn’t get through. Again, no error message whatsoever. Here’s the link without the http prefix, which should prevent the XML parser from parsing it as an URL:

  5. Kris said,

    Ok that worked, for some reason the http prefix kills the URL parsing for this particular URL.

  6. Mike said,

    Your, “rant” was pretty decent. I agree with both sides of it. For me, right now I have to go the way I am going. But, without a doubt, I got the extra computer with the intent of making it a server eventually.
    I’ll look at why your commentsgot held for moderation. I suspect that it was the two links together in the post. I believe that is a setting I have that came as a default. WordPress has some of it’s own Spam stopping tools bu I also use akismet. It wasn’t a problem before, When I could easily moderate comments from work but since I can no longer access my domain from work, it leaves the comments in moderation until I get home and have time to sit down and approve them. Sorry about that.

  7. Kris said,

    For those of us with that geeky bent, nothing beats running your own establishment and just facing up to all those joyful chores that accompanies it. 😀 If you don’t mind me asking, what are the specs of the server to be?

    Unless you have a bunch of comment attempts in the moderation queue, I don’t think the problem had anything to do with that per se. Every time I have posted two or more links, I’ve seen the comment with the accompanying note that it is awaiting approval. In this particular case, even with only the bad link it didn’t hit the blog directly as it should. You can always try it yourself, just add the http prefix to the url and try to post that as a comment. I’ve had some issues with the XML parser associated with WordPress in the past, but this is the first time it hasn’t reported what went wrong. It’s definitively the URL structure of that particular URL, but since it is a valid URL it should pass.

  8. Mike said,

    The specs, dunno 🙂 seriously. I have played around with Ubuntu on it but haven’t done much else so far. I’ll get them later. It’s a hand me down, My employeer had used it up and was going to throw it away. My LAN admin gave it to me as a favor, he took the drive and had it obliterated. I picked up an 80G pretty cheap at the local computer store.

    It looks like I did pick you up in Akismet. I checked just a bit ago and found four comments in there. I haven’t deleted them. I’ll take a minute and look, I wonder if there isn’t some kind of post throttle built in. I think I caught the first one in moderation and the following few in akismet.

    As for geeky chores. I do enjoy some of them, quite a bit. It has been an adjustment for me to try and take the jump from “advanced user” (my words, not anyone elses) to “IT professional”. I have tried to force myself to invest a couple hours each night in web stuff, Linux stuff or studying for A+. Some nights though, it’s just too much. Recently, we have had some drama that has kept me from it. That and the pending holiday has made it hard to keep that committment to myself.

    I’m looking forward to getting back after it and my training mush stronger with the new year. Some of my first projects may not show up here. I’m interested in developing a workpress sandbox for myself. I have also been introduced to a bunch of new and interesting challenges at work that I will end up using some of my home computer time for.

  9. Mike said,


    Just wanted to let you know. I checked. The someday server if 866Mhz and 384 (256 + 128) mb RAM according to the Setup screen. Not much but I assume it would work for the low load I would be placing on it.

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