Lots of runners and triathletes are data nerds. Counting laps, miles, heartbeats, and calories, all while doing math on the go to make sure they’re hitting pace for any given workout and distance. They calculate training sessions, intervals, sleeps ’till the next race, and how many cups of coffee it takes to complete two-a-days factoring in sleep lost from said two-a-days. How many clean sports bras or suitable pairs of socks one had left until laundry day is also included in the massive jumble of numbers, and I very much participate in that last triathlete/laundry goddess story problem.
I try to simplify my focus during training, only because I know that I do better with a plan that doesn’t require having to count and calculate on the go. I do have my own compulsive counting habits, for example, for the last 10 lifts in a set of weights you MUST count down from 10, not upward to the total. MUST. Otherwise you did not properly celebrate being done. When I’m trying to keep a certain cadence on the bike trainer I find that counting does help with keeping a rhythm. And of course when I’m running 800’s after the first lap I’m thinking, “One more lap. 1/2 of a lap left. 1/4 of a lap ’till you’re finished! And then you get to run 3 more you lucky girl!” But I count to keep myself entertained and focused as opposed to constantly re-calibrating what’s happening with every stride.
I’m getting more in tune with my heart rate, but luckily I don’t personally have to count 186 beats in a minute while I’m trying to run a 1:26 400, I have a lovely Garmin monitor to do that tiring job for me. I always thought I didn’t need another thing to focus on, but heart rate is a measurement that I now push upon others. It’s just so helpful to measure my capabilities and what my body can maintain. Sometimes it does scares me off too, like for example when it misreads and tells me that I’m at 200 beats per minute when I’m jogging slowly downhill, but I’m also learning by breathing, feel and pace when it’s mistaking me for someone who can actually get their heart rate that high.
I sort of count calories, but not really. Only in a how many gu’s do I need on this run sort of sense, taking into consideration how much did I really eat last night?. Then I come home and calculate how many nuun’s will be required to replace the sodium lost from sweat, and that answer is always A LOT OF THEM.
So now, I share my first moment of data nerddom:
Look how pretty it all looks! Unfortunately I can’t take credit for the cute little rolling hills in the Elevation category, but the plateaus in Pace and mountains and valleys in Heart Rate were created by yours truly and her running brilliance. Apparently data art is the next big thing, so I’m thinking I should probably reconsider my career and become an exercise data artist. Right? Wallpaper? Greeting cards? Large scale wall coverings? Needlepoint? I’ll just run around, capture my data, and print it on anything you can think of.
Truly though, sitting on my couch post run these pretty graphs are making me much happier than is really appropriate. Some of the sets were hard, and some of them were REALLY FREAKING HARD, so it’s reassuring to see that the data doesn’t read normal, normal, normal, OFF THE CHARTS DEATH. And we all know, numbers don’t lie!
For any inquiring minds, and so that I can remember what created these pretty little charts, here’s the workout that started my new career: