Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Me and numbers

There was some comment about me and numbers in my last blog, and over my blog history. The word geek has been used, affectionately, and I have to say, at least somewhat accurately.

Here's why. Numbers don't lie. Numbers measure progress, or lack of it. Numbers mean something real to other people, like a coach. Numbers build knowledge and confidence. For example, today over 20 minutes, I ran 3.25 K at a heart rate of 140 bpm or a little more. That's the top end of my aerobic range, and works out to being a 6:09 pace or 9.75 Kph. That is real data for me and my coach. It tells her a great deal about where I am in terms of running fitness. It's repeatable, so I can compare that to last month, or next month when it comes around. It means nothing to me, nothing at all, if other people are faster, or slower. These numbers are about me.

But numbers aren't the only thing. Feelings are important too. Knowing I ran that and felt great during and after gives some context to the numbers. If I'd said I ran that but nearly spewed after, that would be something else again. Knowing I had a good stride, my feet and legs felt strong, and that the weather was cold and clear, with good footing tells more again.

Imagine how a coach would react after a training run where I said that I wasn't sure how long I ran at each of the paces the plan called for because I didn't start the stopwatch, and I don't know my heart rate because I wasn't wearing the monitor, and I don't know how far I went and there weren't any landmarks to Google Map, and my breathing was ok, not too hard, not too easy, and my legs felt ok during and after. How on earth would the coach know if the athlete were making any progress? How would you?

Today I ran up the 37 St path to the reservoir, and part way to the boat docks. The idea was to run easy for 10 minutes, then run zone 2 for 20, zone 3 for 20, and zone 2 again for 10. That is exactly what I did. This is probably the closest I've ever followed a run plan. Nice stride all they way, and it turned out I got back to the start, and another .37 K besides in the one hour. It worked out to just a hair under 9 K in the hour.

This aren't the best tusks I've had, and there's no rim of frost around the hood. But it's what you guys get. After all, it's only - 16 C (3 F) with a wind chill of -27 C (-17 F) today.

Did a little bit of stretching in the basement afterward, but was getting cold and hit the shower. We're going to do some yoga together a bit later, since there is no formal yoga class till next year.


  1. BRRRRRRRRRR!! Do you run without anything covering your face? You are truly hardcore, Keith!

    I have a neckwarmer pulled up (literally) to my eyeballs. My two toques and balaclava barely keep this beaner o' mine warm. Hahahaha!

    And IF you are a geek, then you are truly the most lovable geek on the planet!! I LOVE hearing your take on things -- it is so different from mine, and I always learn something from you. :) :)

  2. Nothing wrong with numbers, but then my first "trade" was accountancy! Now, you see, you run at -27 wind chill, and what do I do.....I hit the treadmill - hahahaha! You lot are crazy nuts!

  3. I'm a total dork, I get it!!!

    Woohoo, I'm thrilled with the new pic. Holy crap - those are some snotcicles! That temp just makes me cold sitting here.

    Merry Christmas.

  4. I am obsessed with numbers too. But, numbers don't keep you warm at night. Well, maybe they do. But they sure as heck don't lie by telling you your butt doesn't look fat in those pants. That's what a good spouse is for :).

  5. i am pretty nerdy myself - math major and computer weasle. just got a new garmin watch today for xmas. :-)

  6. I think secretly (or not so secretly) all athletes have an affair with numbers. I like knowing mine. Except my weight and body fat unless they are going down.
    Sometimes though, when the numbers are being cranky and bitchy and telling us stuff we don't want to hear, we break up for a while, run without knowing shit and fall in love with just feeling the joy of moving again. Once that is accomplished, (usually called the off season) we strap on the watches, garmins, polars, and what ever else and start getting cozy with numbers again!! Progress is a thing of beauty.


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