Running with Stats

So I'm training for a half marathon again, right? I finally feel like I have my stomach under control, I have felt good on my morning runs for quite a bit, and - oh yeah - my dad agreed to run it.

That's Dad and me. Running in Madison. When it was still reasonable to run in shorts and a tank top.
I'm really excited about it, since running has always been one of the things that he and I have gotten to do when we get the chance to see each other. I didn't start running until I was already away at college,  so it's always been a treat for us to run together when we find ourselves in the same place for two seconds.

I'm using the word "treat" very loosely. I think the first run we did together at Notre Dame happened during an 18° day at the tail end of a blizzard. I'm also not terribly pleasant to run with if it's any hotter than 75°.

Like I said, I'm using "treat"relatively.

So Dad got one of those "13.1" stickers in his stocking from Santa, and I think the combination of the challenge, goal, and his brand new Garmin Forerunner prompted him to start texting me the stats from his runs.

"7.4 miles this morning."
"9.2 miles today."
"10.14 miles at a 9'23" pace. Felt good and happy I didn't die."

Thanks, Dad. I'm happy you didn't die too.

But all of these statistical reports of his runs made me start thinking that I would want to know my stats too. I couldn't have him leaving me in the dust on race day just because I was willy nilly about my training runs!

The problem is that I'm terrible at getting real stats from my $30 Timex. I don't understand how the lap function works and I inevitably forget to stop my watch when I'm waiting at an intersection, and if I do happen to remember to stop it, I'll almost certainly forget to restart it.

But in the name of stats, concrete numbers, and good ol' competition, I downloaded the Nike+ GPS app to my iPhone and went out for my long run this weekend.

I was pleasantly surprised by my stats. I set out to do a Long Slow Distance run on Saturday, since I do more speed work type things during the week. This speed work is also very informal since, you know, I don't know how to use a watch.

But I was again pleasantly surprised when the Nike lady started talking over my Nicki Minaj playlist saying, "4 miles completed. Average pace - 8'36". 2 miles to go. Average pace - 8'37"".

Which kept me motivated. Especially since my legs were all like, "I feel awesome! I could run faster!" and my stomach was totally silent, which is a rare a wonderfully pleasant treat for me.

It also didn't hurt that it was  GORGEOUS outside. I have no idea why Wisconsin is being so nice to me during my first winter, but I'll take it. It was 45°F during my run. Can't beat that for February 4.

This creek is not frozen in this photo. Mind blown.

So I ran 8 miles at a 8'36" average pace, saw beautiful scenery, and only got one, "Hey there, girl!" from a homeless man.

The homeless man cat call was the only time I forgot to pause my Nike+. Which threw off my average pace by .03 seconds and added that last .12 miles to my distance. I get very flustered when strangers talk to me.

The bottom line is that I think I'm a stats convert. I'm not a huge fan of running with my whole iPhone, since it's significantly bulkier than the Shuffle I normally run with, but I definitely feel safer running with my phone when I go a long way all by myself. Refer to my fear of strangers above. Running with my phone and the Nike+ app is also way easier than trying to calculate my splits on my own. No thanks.

I really like the extra push it gives me to know that I could probably take my pace up a bit when the Nike lady calls me out on being a bit too leisurely, but I also like the ego boost when I check out speedy splits after a "no expectations" run. Getting constant feedback throughout my run makes me more accountable for how much effort I'm putting in, since the numbers will call me out on it later.

And now my dad has to run a half marathon with me, because it's on the internet. Sneaky blogging tricks! Hopefully the carefully tracked data from our training make us happy half-marathoners!

Do you run with a watch or a tracking app? Does it motivate you? If you love your Garmin, do you ever take a break and go for a "fun run" without it? 


  1. O man, the iPhone has a lot cooler stuff than the iPod Nano I got... It tracks and all that but no updates or bonus motivation. Still a great investment.

    1. Are you sure it's not a setting to have the Nike lady speak encouraging words? I would be super surprised if the app was different. The Nano has got to be awesome just because it's that much smaller though...

  2. When you ask a BOLDFACED question like that, i'm at least 50% more likely to comment.

    You really need to read Hardwick's book. And maybe this is just a nerdy people thing, but one thing he harps on that I agree with is anything that can be converted to hard data should. How you gonna know what you're getting better or worse or whatever at if you don't have the numbers? Even just like, "how do I feel about the future today? my job? my social life? general happiness?" whatever questions you feel are important to you. make that bitch a 1-10 question. Keep track of it somewhere, like on your ical / google /outlook calendar at the bottom.

    I was a 10871 for yesterday, which I don't write down every day because it's a newish habit. But that's my secret code. get your own. some of mine are binary questions. i'm a nerd. whatever.


    but also don't live by the numbers.

    1. Maybe I'll write entire posts boldfacaed now :) I think part of the reason I was hesitant to track my stats was that I didn't want it to be another thing that I felt like I needed to improve. Running has always been a respite from everything else that I do, so I was afraid that once I assigned it as "work" in my head, it would stop being fun.

      I realized that the fun is competing with myself. Since I'll never be the fastest or best runner on earth, I can at least be better than the runner I was yesterday.