Before I started running, I really was not a stats kind of girl, truthfully I suffer a mild form of anxiety around statistics, but this may be due to a combination of spreadsheet overload at work and me being forced unwillingly to study statistics as part of my university degree.
I always loved how statistics courses would draw you in gently with all the simple logic of probability around coin tossing, then before you could blink it was full on mean, median, mode and % variation malarkey.
And being married to a guy who loves football, I have sat through way too many boys conversations about who won what, when and why, listened to detailed analysis of league positions and first scorers but despite this, could still never understand the desire to store and regurgitate this kind numerical info !
All this changed when I started running and I began writing down my runs- how far, how long, what the weather was like, how I was feeling – and finding I really enjoyed looking back on my efforts.
Writing in a jotter was good, but quite early on I got my first gadget – the Nike+ sensor. I even made make a cute holder for it as I don’t wear Nike shoes. With my sensor and iPod I could see on screen how far and how fast I was running and then pour over my cumulative performance and personal stats on the Nike website. Soon I was familiar with the runners language of pace, PB and splits.
A few other runners had the Nike+ sensor and so I became mildly obsessed with how my cumulative mileage was racking up, and how it compared with my fellow runners. I spent hours of enjoyment pouring over routes taken, bar charts of varying pace and speed achieved and most satisfyingly seeing how many calories I had burned.
And of course having all this data led me to think about how I might up my mileage and push on to bigger goals. While taking part in races is the ultimate challenge, now that I was running regularly I wondered what it would be like to run further or more frequently, and was intrigued by these runners who have long unbroken running streaks.
In December 2011 I did my first run every day for a month challenge, then did it again in June 2012, and December 2012.
Having completed the same daily run challenge 3 times, although it was a nice feeling to have done it, I was not enthused about just more daily running. Somehow by committing to running a minimum mileage daily I was losing motivation – running was becoming a tick box exercise and runs were becoming routine. I think it might also have contributed to some growing running niggles I experienced.
But as my running buddy Alison says, it is good to have goals, as apart from anything else it helps you feel in control and I tend to agree. With self-imposed goals, far from them being meaningless, there is something about a challenge you have set for yourself that presents much more of a test of will power.
Knowing you only have yourself to answer to as to what constitutes success or failure, reveals just how much of running is about mind over matter.
So my personal target for May was to run 75 miles. Depending on where you are on the running spectrum, this will seem an amazing feat of endurance and will, or just a typical training week ! But I was looking to challenge my own abilities , and push past some limits. So as I typically run between 44 and 50 miles in a month, to up this to 75 seemed a good start point.
May has been and gone, and 75.5 miles run. It’s a good feeling