Runners are obsessed with numbers. We count miles, meters, minutes, steps, hills, workouts, and runs. We measure personal records, wind speed, temperature, heart rate, and weight. The sport is inundated with numbers.

Numbers have great value in running. Whether it’s time, distance, or place, numbers are the sole means of measuring our improvement in the sport. Numbers provide a training plan and can even keep us in check when we’re trying to do too much. But many of us become so shackled to the numbers that we never really just run. Dangerous habits develop when we run for the numbers rather than for the run.

In my experience, I’ve shed waterfalls of tears over the time on my watch. It sounds ridiculous saying it, but when you’ve placed your worth in the number on your wrist, you’ve got a lot riding on every run. I’ve deemed myself a failure for setting out to run 8 miles but calling it at 6, even though my body was down right exhausted. I’ve said things to myself I’d never dare say to someone I love just because the number on the scale increased by a pound from the day before.

I know one bad run doesn’t define success and I am aware that even a five-pound fluctuation on the scale is totally normally but when you’re bound to the numbers all logical thought flies out the window. When we chain ourselves to some shallow definition of success we never grant ourselves the chance to excel.

When the numbers start to suffocate you, take off your watch, close out your Strava, step away from the scale and take a breath. If you’re putting one foot in front of the other you are doing enough. There is plenty of time to run the numbers, it is foolish to do so every day.

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2 thoughts on “Running the Numbers

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