Tuesday, December 4, 2012

When metrics matter less, the run matters more

Today's run (street): 2.5 miles

When you first begin to run, it quickly becomes obvious how much you need to learn. I look back at my early days and realize how many bad decisions I'd made (sprinting without a warm-up,  buying Nike shoes, wearing cotton socks, etc.). Once I understood that wicking clothes were de rigueur and finally learned what "PR" meant, I started to focus more on performance metrics and the technologies to capture data.

As I mentioned above, I first bought Nike running shoes, but it was primarily because I didn't know brands. But I also bought them because they had a storage well under the insole where I could put my Nike+ chip.With the Nike+ chip and Sportband, I was able to capture interesting data about my runs including time, speed and distance. Until the Sportband display corroded (I actually went through three Sportbands, each with a MTBF of 3 months) I was able to see my pace in real time as I ran. It was exciting to monitor my progress.

I switched to Garmins after that, and studiously recorded my metrics. I analyzed my performance and tried to understand why my average pace improved or worsened from month to month. The numbers were important to me. Over the last year, I've noticed that I've stopped checking my pace as often when I run. I watch my distance and monitor my heart rate but the speed that I run doesn't interest me much anymore. I can't say that I've given up on performance (it's always great to see when I'd paced under 9:00) but that's not what's important right now.

I can't help thinking about the recent WSJ article that correlated fast paces to negative health in older athletes. Maybe that's part of it, though my decreased focus on speed (except when racing) has been a long time coming. I ran my usual route today about 15 seconds slower than average, but I was happy because I did the run. It took years to feel that way. I wonder how long it will last.

2 comments:

  1. Hmm. I wonder if I will 'evolve' to running without the metrics, and just go out and enjoy what feels best to me. That sounds like something I'd like to aspire to.

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  2. I still keep track of performance but a slow time doesn't bother me the way that it used to. Still, one of the hardest things for me to do is to go out without my Garmin. It should be liberating, but I still find myself devaluing runs that aren't captured and recorded. It's almost as if those runs don't count.

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