Technology is a useful servant but a dangerous master!

Christian Lous Lange

A few years ago I moved away from road running to concentrate on trail running. The main reason was to avoid the obsession with times and statistics that tends to come with road running. Trail running is a lot more relaxed and runners tend to be less obsessed with PB’s.

So why do I find myself again obsessed with statistics?

About a year ago I joined a new local running club, the Tadcaster Harriers. They have a good programme of training / handicap races and competitions that drive your running progression. As much as I intended not to get caught up in this, I find myself drawn into it. So much so that I have even started to run parkrun 5k events again (I used to dread these as you are drawn into PB fever, and always looking for faster times / faster courses).

Joy of Strava!

I also started recording runs on Strava. Another no-no if you don’t want to become obsessed with figures. So now I am always looking at segment times, number of miles logged etc.

Lose the gadgets!

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Running gadgets are another enemy of those intending to break free. My Fenix 3 records everything, including metrics such as ‘running balance, contact time etc etc. I find myself looking at Garmin Connect to analyse these, especially cadence. I am currently obsessed with this. My cadence is not that good and tends to average below 160 steps per minute. I would like to get the average to above 165! Easier said than done……..which leads me onto my main point for today………

It gets worse!

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I made the mistake of putting my name forward for a corporate global fitness challenge. The company I work for has started a fitness initiative worldwide (not a bad thing!). To kick this off they have piloted a number of teams into the ‘Virgin Pulse’ Global Challenge. Each team consists of teams of seven people. The aim being to set personal and team targets with the intention of getting up off your ass and getting fit. Again, it is a great idea

My initial thoughts were that with my ‘running obsession’ and my race calendar, that I would be able to contribute a lot to a team and the competitive side of me thought that my team would then do well.

Little did I know how competitive this would be!

All fitness trackers have a downside in terms of accuracy. Virgin Pulse uses a small step tracker (although it will also allow you to use Fitbit, Garmin, Apple Health and other fitness trackers), to record the number of steps you do each day. Your targets (set by you) are the number of steps you intend to undertake each day. Other activities such as cycling, swimming, have manual inputs which use a figure to convert km cycled (for example) to number of steps.

Knowing that, for me, a run of 10k equals about 10,000 steps, I set an initial target of 12,000 steps per day. In reality I thought that I would surpass that, although I have a fairly sedentary job.

Cheats and lies!

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Imagine my surprise when people were logging 60,000 steps on their first day! Are you telling me they have done the equivalent of 60km …..what are they doing for God’s sake? The lead team at the moment are averaging 75,000 steps per day. So basically every member is doing that! I realise that some teams must be really competitive and doing long cycle rides and long runs, but to have that as an average every day cannot be true! My team are averaging 17,000 steps and we are doing a lot to achieve that. We are no slouchers!

So that sums me up……..I have returned to being obsessed with running metrics …..How many steps per day I can achieve!; running cadence; miles per week / month etc…etc…….I will need to think again and take a break!……..but after the Global Challenge has finished 🙂

Questions:

Have you ever been drawn into a challenge that you soon regret?

Can you truly break free from being obsessed with metrics?

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