A few months ago I started running again after a decade-long hiatus. Vibram’s five-finger shoes have made my knee pain a thing of the past. But I’m still working my way back towards running, and it’s slow going (maybe I’m just going slow).
In my first 15 years of running (I started when I was 12), running was all about suffering. I occasionally had easy, effortless runs, but the general rule was to push harder and go faster to “get the most” out of the run. I’d say 80% of the time I spent running I was hoping it would end, and that was kind of the point.
Back then I would have loved all the technology that’s available now. I have iMapMyRun on my iPhone, and it’s pretty incredible: free software that runs off of my music player (imagine if my Walkman had this!) that uses GPS to track where I am, places it on a map, and tells me how far I’ve run, how long I’ve run, the elevation I’ve covered. It’s kind of magical.
It’s so cool, but I’ve had to force myself to stop using it.
iMapMyRun is perfect for the kind of runner I used to want to be: wanting to know my pace, know how today’s run compared with yesterday’s, know how far I ran this week down to a tenth of a mile. But I stopped using it.
Why? Because you get what you measure. And knowing that all that information was being recorded was making me care more about the numbers at the end of the run than the run itself.
My goal on yesterday’s run was to have as much of the run as possible be enjoyable, and I don’t get that when my per-mile time is being tracked. I don’t get joy by knowing my pace. In fact it detracts from what I’m trying to do.
Measuring is fine, just make sure the things you’re tracking are the things you want the most of. If iMapMyRun could tell me how much of my run I spent relaxed, smiling, dropping my shoulders, taking easy strides, and not worrying about the next hill, then it would be the software for me.
(Oh, and this post isn’t just about running).