I’ll admit it. I reach to numbers constantly when it comes to my training reviews. I am always looking back to sessions to compare and contrast progress. I am a sucker for a graph. And if you get the x & y axis working in harmony with each other I might whimper like a teenager seeing the video for Madonna’s Justify My Love* for the first time. The glory days of MTV.
My coach, the brilliant Paul Giblin, asks for his runners to feedback on every single session. Before I do I pore over the numbers to augment the feedback. I truly believe an athlete engaged in their numbers is going to improve; or at the very least understand what is going on.
I’ve created spreadsheets where Training Peaks just doesn’t cut the mustard. I’ve cracked complex data on cadence, oscillation and someotherfancycillationhere onto analytical tools to try and gain greater insight into my performance.
Yet, in the last 12 months I have used the words “feel” & “felt” 316 times on my feedback to Paul. Now, you might assume that the “felt” is pens, or material for my shed or perhaps I often visit a quality haberdashery and procure some textiles for my craft hobby.
You’d be wrong.
No matter how much I talk about numbers I always lean first on how I feel. The body discretely measures tens, hundreds and maybe thousands of bits of information pulsing through it. You’d be mad to ignore it.
Look at this picture with the numbers element of feedback removed. This was from last Monday, a couple of days after the Highland Perthshire Marathon. It’s my feedback to Paul on Training Peaks after the session. I have removed the numbers to show how little they make up of the feedback. This is pretty typical for me. Including the awful spelling and grammar.
What is the point of this blog you are probably now asking? Well, I guess it is a reminder to me to stay connected with the metrics but not to allow it to become my only reference point. And cos I am a kind soul, I thought I’d share it with you!
It can be especially dangerous chasing a single metric. For example, stockpiling miles is a recipe for disaster and a one way ticket to injury. Or, always trying to run faster than your body says you should – not doing the easy runs easy – because you are worried about people will think will only get in the way of your progress.
I’ll always wear a watch but on my easy runs I go out and try not to sweat, and never look at my pace except when it beeps a mile. Sometimes that means miles that are faster than others, and at my age it is now two miles to warm up instead of one!
Embrace the feeling and use the numbers to inform it. Or is it use the numbers to inform your feeling? Whatever works for you.
*In no way is this a reference to a personal experience. In no way!