Wednesday, May 07, 2008

A Missing Gene

I read a number of running blogs and they are full of statistics. Distance, time, heart rate, often with pretty graphs; its all there. There has also been a marketing push by Nike who have sent their Sportsband to a number of bloggers, to raise awareness. There has thus been discussion of its virtues, especially compared to a Garmin. Some people went about wearing both. I suppose if you are going to have statistics then there is an anxiety them being accurate and a need to check.

I look on and think I'm missing the runners' statistical gene because it all seems like a lot of trouble. It's not that I'm a technophobe, in fact I rather like gadgets and have always used a hrm. But I use it in a fairly loose way and have neither accurately tested my maximum heart-rate, nor based my training on exact heart-rate percentages. Instead over time, and a good number of runs, I have identified the the heart-rates associated with different levels of exercise (that is I used the feeling of intensity first, or Borg scale if we are getting sport sciencey, and then checked the numbers). I use this information from the hrm in two main ways: firstly confirming that things are going as expected, if there is a variation between what I feel and the heart-rate I know something is wrong and I can take action; secondly it is useful for holding the rate down on the long slow run, to keep it nice and easy.

Other than that the only thing I need is the watch part of the hrm. I have a paper diary in which I record time on my feet, type of session and random details such as weather, how I felt, problems, or any strange events. Mileage is a bit slapdash and often not recorded (a lot of my routes are on meandering woodland paths, which I have no way of measuring). I like writing it out in longhand, somehow it feels more in sympathy with the simple physical activity of running.

A couple of years ago I bought a Garmin 201 and at first thought it the bees roller-skates and loved playing with it but I soon gave it up. It took too long to get a signal ( I felt a bit of a ninny, all togged up but hanging around until the machine told me I could go), but more importantly it was not very good under the trees. It has gathered dust ever since and that simple action of rejecting a piece of technology made me think about the information I need and realise that it is not very much.

All I want is to chart progress (or more precisely lack of progress). Although I only have a rough idea of how far or how fast I have run, it doesn't matter because I have a number of standard routes and can compare them over time. That is good enough.


londonjogger said...

it's horses for courses hK, like everything else in life!

Highway Kind said...


The whole point of running (and what makes it interesting) is finding our own routines.

It doesn't matter what it is. if it works for somebody then it is good.

But these are never fixed as we try new things.

Who knows, next month I might buy a footpod for my Polar and try to analyse my statistics.

londonjogger said...

i love to read runners statistics...i guess it helps me learn etc. but i love reading about people's thoughts about running too - like your blog :)

Phil said...

I know when i put my stats up on my blog in the back of my mind im thinking this all feels a bit anal.

I go through phases where i like to know what mileage and pace i am doing (secretly i like the gps data maps but don't tell anyone)

I have weeks where i don't touch the gps and just run for the pure joy of doing so.

Highway Kind said...

LJ - you are right, statistics help you learn and improve because you can identify the patterns.

They are a good thing but I think we all choose the amount and type of information we want to use.

I use set runs for comparison and this gives me quite a lot. At other times all I do is just run.

Phil - I also use the Google pedometer. It is good a lot of the time but useless for the woods because you cannot follow the paths.

I agree - sometimes you need the information and sometimes it is best to just get outside and run.

Em said...

I too find it a bit anal when I post up my stats on my blog.

But really I am posting them up for my own benefit. Setting myself weekly / monthly targets is the best way (for me) to get myself off the sofa and out for a run even when I really don't feel like it.

And before I started recording my runs, I was under the illusion that I was putting in a lot more miles than I really was, so it has definitely helped me!

Highway Kind said...

Hello Em

I think posting your stats is a perfectly good thing to do. We all need measures and they help us improve. It's just that mine are based on the comparison of set routes and the time I take.

My diary contains entries like 'monument to monument 84 min, hr 145'. By comparing that with the other monument to monument runs and I can see how things are going. What I don't know is the exact distance of that run.

tomroper said...

I post stats, with the occasional observation on other stuff: nature notes, eg number of fluffy bunnies seen, or how the old man's beard is coming on.
It's a substitute for saying anything real about the run. I think my central problem is, while I think profound thoughts during the session, I can't remember them afterwards

Highway Kind said...


Most of what I think on a run is very dumb, so it is probably just as well I forget it.

If you asked me what i thought about on todays run I would probably have to anchor it on things I saw and then work outwards

Adele said...

I put my stats on for other people really, because most runners are stat geeks and like to be nosy about how fast (or slow in my case) you go.

They are just an extra bit at the end of my ramblings about everything else!