The lure of stats

I try to ignore them. I try not to look in their general direction. I try not to listen to them. I try not to let them influence my mindset pre- and post-run. And I definitely try my dangdest to not think about them during the run.

The statistics. Oh the numbers game.

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The thing is, if I am honest with myself, if I wanted to really ignore the statistics I would just run without any tracking device.

I’ve done it before and it has been blissful. Running without the urge to take a quick peak at pace, running without knowing exactly how far, fast, high and low I’ve gone frees my mind up to think of everything but the run itself. It is quietude defined.

But then I get annoyed that I didn’t track that distance. I didn’t add the run to my weekly and monthly record. I can’t put a time or pace to the feel of the run. Did it just feel fast, but was slow? Or was it actually fast? How steep were those hills that beat me down? That lap seemed quicker than the last five, was it?

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And while I try to steer clear of blogging about numbers, time, distance, pace, intervals, speedwork, etc and focus more on the mindfulness side of the sport, I feel ignoring the stats is ignoring what constantly creeps back into my thoughts during a run. That is even though I am soaking up the seaside sunrise as it burns its way through a foggy start to the day and even though I am thinking about all the vehicles we’ve test driven the past week and which is the right one and the best deal and even though I lose myself in the rhythmic pavement pounding that I often think of nothing at all, I still periodically check my watch. I need to know: how am I doing?

The lure of stats is that they can be reassuring or can confirm how you feel. They can be a kick in the arse to get going (“stop thinking about 48 month lease terms and get moving!”). They can be an eye opener (“I went how far?). Or like my run a few days ago, the numbers showed that I somehow ran my fastest kms at the 14 and 15k mark.

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The numbers can be a slap in the face (“That’s it! That’s my sprinting pace?!”). They can be a cozy little blankey to wrap up in and make you feel good about giving up an hour or two of your weekend for the selfish indulgence of time alone on the road.

Those numbers lure me in and I’m hooked. The odd run here and there without the tracking devices is nice, refreshing, freeing. At the time anyway. Afterward I am annoyed that the run is “lost”.

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