Letting go of data obsession (a little)

As a coda to yesterday’s post I managed to delete this week’s run history from my Garmin before I had a chance to upload it to Garmin Connect. I’m disappointed by that but I’m also okay because running has finally become more about the experience than the measurement. A year ago I began to log my activities, first when walking and then when I switched over to running. The act of capturing the data, monitoring improvement and summarizing my monthly mileage became my primary motivation. When my Nike+ Sportband stopped uploading to the Nike+ website I practically panicked because I felt if the run wasn’t captured it didn’t count. Like it didn’t even happen.

I switched from Nike+ to MapMyRun after that and I meticulously transferred information captured on Sportband to this website for a while, until the Nike+ technology failed altogether. Every month I would look at the summary and compare my miles per day/week/month against previous periods. I’d key in my cross training to capture elliptical miles from a paper log I kept next to the machine. I think my focus on the data rather than on the event began to switch when I started running trails more often. Mixing pace times from rugged, hilly runs with flat road runs made monthly pace averages less relevant. I’m still interested in the metrics of each run but I’m satisfied to know that I ran about 20 miles in a week, not that I ran 20.65.

Does this mean that I have transcended the beginner phase of running by focusing metaphorically on the game rather than on the score? Many experienced runners chuckle when I tell them how I capture run data with foot pods and GPS apps. They say they’ve been doing it so long that they know the distances they run and can pretty much assess their pace as they go. I’m not willing to give up my measurement tools quite yet but I’m willing to live with a few missing sessions on Garmin Connect.

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