Make Sure Everything is Measured

The old sayings “if you measure it, you can improve it”, “if it is important, it can be quantified” or this quote:

“Perhaps what you measure is what you get. More likely, what you measure is all you’ll get. What you don’t (or can’t) measure is lost” – H. Thomas Johnson …

Yes, they are true, so very true.

As a runner, I ask:

  • How many miles did you run today?
  • How many minutes did it take you?
  • What was your pace?
  • What was your heart rate?
  • What was your suffer score?
  • How many miles are on your running shoes?
  • How many steps did you take today?
  • How many hours did you sleep, how many were quality sleep hours?
  • How much did you weigh today
  • Did give an alpha or numeric grade to your run?

All these metrics and so many others — dependent upon the sport, your level and interests.

Like most runners, I can be a bit obsessive about my running stats, because the numbers don’t lie, they give a verifiable snapshot of how I did during that particular workout, moment or period of time that I am attempting to measure.

They show when I going good, when I am doing okay and when things are going pretty bad. The good, the bad and the ugly as I like to call my running progress most of the time. The numbers and measurements that I get from those numbers tell me where I stand in comparison to other runners and the runner I used to be, and possibly give me an idea of the runner that I could be going forward.

However, are the numbers a true representation of you or I and the runners we are?

Has running…hell has life in general only become a series of measurements that are plugged into a computer program, graphed, averaged and where the one who has the best numbers – is the best?

What happened to all the things you can’t measure:

  • Being challenged and the satisfaction derived from picking your arse up out of the dirt and working hard to overcome the challenge in front of you.
  • Giving a piece of yourself, if you must call it this, sacrificing something of yourself for the benefit of others. That idea of giving back.
  • Being honest with the numbers that have accumulated. Not cherry-picking or cooking them to meet a particular expected or preferred outcome or to show how great you really are.
  • Being honest and not cheating to finish ahead your current abilities. Just because a friend qualified for X does not mean you have to also.
  • Being comfortable with who you are and the journey you are on. We all have different paths and perspectives on what happiness for us is and might be.
  • Being able to think beyond the numbers and think about what IS important.

And all the other things in life that are not quantified and reduced down to zeroes and ones then programmed into a graph or other display to show to the world what the numbers say you are.

What does matter and does it matter if you can measure it or…not?

I wonder if the numbers tell the whole story of our running or our lives.

Do we measure too many things in our efforts to control too many things.

Sometimes I think too much, me thinks.

2 thoughts on “Make Sure Everything is Measured

  1. Actually those are all valid questions.

    I think that we measure but don’t always question the validity of metrics – weighty fluctuates naturally yet we attach an un-natural value to it, our Garmin/Apple/whatever devices provide a ‘caloric burn’ value that is highly variable and of questionable value … and like you say, there are so many other things that happen on a day to day basis that figure into our physical and mental health. We are much more than just running and food.

    I have been measuring the hell out of myself this year – the first winter using my Garmin every day and looking at the data(Apple Watch data is actually easier to ignore), back to MyFitnessPal for food, and on and on. All because I had ~10 pounds I wanted to lose (never really got fully back on track after our Europe 2nd honeymoon trip!). Which I have now done …

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    • Coming from a stats guy, that is a pretty big compliment in my mind. I have a feeling that most stats are +/- more than they believe, especially the ones from our current technology binge. However, they are usually close enough to give us some ideas or understanding on where or how we are doing in a particular metric. I have attempted to cut back some on what I measure, actually quite a bit, but the ones in my training log have particular meaning.

      Steps gives me an idea of how active I have been (when I remember to put the watch back on after charging it), weight tells me what kind of shape I am in (that almost 20 pounds I gained back when I went back to work in 2015 – needs to go away0, the running data lets me know about where I am with my running and the ellipitical should actually be called cross-training, but I wanted to add it in to give me an idea of how much work I am probably doing beyond my running. Although I do not track my walking, which amounts to 4-5 miles a day most of the time.

      We are much more than a set of numbers on a spreadsheet, but sometimes it seems that is what people focus on more than they should

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