In the world of GPS, heart monitors, time clocks, and OCR rankings – we spend so much of our time worrying about the numbers. How was today’s run? Did we reach our target heart rate? Was that a podium finish? Did you PR? As competitive athletes, it’s naturally in our blood, spirit, and mind.
But are we missing something bigger?
Perhaps we’re too concerned about the numbers. Now we quantify just about everything from nutrition, fitness, and races. We also have to remember so many passwords, access codes, social security numbers, and PINs.
As competitors, it’s definitely hard not to pay attention to all of these things. Yes, they are important, especially if you have set goals in certain areas. But are they so important that we forget why we run (or race) in the first place?
Nobody ever asks: “How did you feel after your race today?”
I’m the first to admit that I have lofty goals for just about every race I enter. I usually have a specific finishing time or overall gender placement I’d like to reach. Over the years, I’ve been fortunate to achieve most of my racing goals.
However, along with all of the “good” races, I’ve certainly had my share of bad ones. There have been times where I’ve finished with a PR, but didn’t feel “right” during the race. I’ve also had morning runs where the successful time doesn’t reflect how physically awful I felt. So really…how important are the numbers?
In my last race of 2015 (the Palm Beach Marathon), I finished as the 2nd overall female.
Truth is, I felt miserable the whole time. It may have been the worst I’ve ever felt in a race (probably nothing related to my 3rd place finish the previous day at the Spartan Miami Sprint…). Was it satisfying to stand on the podium at the awards ceremony? Honestly, no.
Sometimes the most enjoyable runs I’ve taken were the ones where I left my GPS at home. Or when I don’t look at my watch until I’m back home running up the driveway. Runs where I ran based on how I was feeling - not by what the numbers on my watch were showing.
Does this mean I will stop counting my cumulative miles? Abandon my GPS watch? Forget about the clock? Not worry about placement? Ignore the numbers on my training schedule?
No. But it does mean I will savor the times when I can run without the distractions of numbers floating around in my head. I will enjoy the feeling of strong, swift legs and easy breathing, not necessarily the feeling of a PR. And hopefully with the perfect mix of the two, there will be even more happy running in 2016.
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