Quantified Running

Lately, I’ve been getting very interested in the “quantified self” movement – it’s a great combination of hobbies for me. I like that it lets me play with technology and also play with my brain psychology to push myself to improve. We even preordered a couple Fitbit Flexes, but it seems that there’s a huge production shortage because despite being released on May 15th, it’s impossible to buy anywhere and our pre-order might be shipping in July.

In the meantime, I’ve been enjoying the steady improvements to the Nike+ running software since that’s what I have on my phone for now. Last night I had an interesting run that I was pretty excited about:

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For the whole first mile and a half or so, I was able to sustain a great speed that would have let me easily break my 25:00 5k goal (I only need to average about 8:00/mile, and my pace there was more like 7:45/mile). I was surprised at how great I felt even despite the 80° heat. Then I had to pay the price when I hit a huge hill going north on the nearby road – I don’t usually run this route so I was taken a little by surprise and didn’t have the energy saved for it. Having to walk for a while there cost me about a minute and a half on my overall time, which was enough to miss the goal. Still, it was my fastest time so far for the year and I’m very happy that was able to even come in under pace for such a big chunk of it.

Psychologically, the data is very motivating; at the time, I thought I just fell apart due to exhaustion and my pacing was incorrect. Now that I can review the metrics later on though it’s more obvious just how big that climb was. An easy route adjustment or a little planning ahead and saving a burst of energy should be enough to make the difference next time. Instead of going out for my next run thinking I’m not strong enough yet, I can approach it with some confidence and some better tactics in mind.

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