T-Rex Runner: The Numbers Game

In a sport dominated by numbers— mileage, days runs, PRs— what happens when you stop counting?


No matter what distance you run, it can sometimes feel like our sport is entirely focused around numbers: how many miles you ran, how many times a week you run, pace per mile, race pace, weekly mileage, tempo pace – the list goes on and on. Forgive the generalization, but many runners I have met have fairly organized type A personalities and love all of the numbers involved in the sport. From marking their mileage on a calendar to logging in a notebook or keeping an incredibly detailed spreadsheet, runners are notorious for jotting down all the important numbers with hopes of seeing improvement over time.

In addition to the numbers, many also track the seemingly mundane details of their runs in hopes of finding a pattern. What clothing did they wear? What was the weather like? Did they wear the same shoes two days in a row? The truly dedicated (or obsessive) among us can probably find meaning in nearly any pattern and value in virtually any spreadsheet.

Related: That Kind of Runner

At various points in my running career, I’ve experienced the entire spectrum of record-keeping insanity. I tend to take extensive notes when I’m in a tough training cycle, mark mileage only on my calendar when I’m running for fun, and not record anything at all when I’m injured or running sporadically because I get too upset. I’m not big on data or numbers, primarily because I get frustrated when I see that I had a bad day. In fact, right now I’m doing my entire marathon training cycle without a Garmin! While I certainly see the value in taking stock of all those numbers, I do better mentally when I take numbers out of the equation (ha!). It helps that I’m not particularly competitive, as data can certainly help you improve.

What sort of records do you keep of your training? Do you think it helps you improve?