Don’t be defined by the data!

Sunday, June 12, 2016

I first published this back in March. Since then I applied this idea of refusing to be defined by data to other areas of my life, which I discuss at the end of this post…
I’ve been logging workouts in my Believe Journal for over a year now. Simultaneously I’ve been uploading workouts onto Garmin Connect, which is a system that I’ve had great success with since I got serious about sport back in 2009. But a funny thing happened when I was recovering from that stress fracture, and then recovering again from bursitis in my hip. I continued to log my workouts in my Believe journal, but drifted away from uploading anything. For several reasons
This was my first Believe journal, which I finished! 
  • I was only uploading the workouts out of habit. But seeing those slow paces on the Garmin Activity log bummed me out. I had a long way to go, and Garmin was just rubbing it in every time I looked at that calendar online. And in between those slow workouts were the blank squares… Those days I had missed training entirely. I stopped looking at the calendar.
Super depressing blank squares :/
  • I got a new lap top, and never really took the time to install the Garmin Ant thingy. Ok, I may have attempted it once, but I forgot a step. In the meantime I had pulled out my journal and written a brief description of that day’s ride on the trainer, so… I still have no Ant thingy.
  • I realized that I didn’t want the Ant thingy back! Without it, there was one less task on my to-do list! Without it, my workouts became more than simply a series of numbers that were supposed to represent my progress as an athlete.
  • The training software painted a stark picture of an athlete who was inconsistent, injury prone, slow and unsuccessful. And I believed it. I bought into that hollow view of myself. And it’s entirely possible that I perpetuated the cycle of being slow and injured BECAUSE I believed it!
Half way through my second Believe journal… Learning not to set outcome goals or data goals either! 
But maybe I was more than a pace per mile, the weekly mileage logged, the power watts and my average heart rate! Maybe the athlete I hoped to be was buried underneath all that data! 
I still record that data in my journal… in the little Mileage / Rating column. But the big column? That’s full of the juicy stuff!
  • Didn’t leave time for PT exercises after my swim, and hip hurt! Swim 1700m
  • Ran the muddy water line in shorts… in February! 3.6 miles, 8:21 pace 
  • Saved $7 in the Money Challenge this week 
  • No workouts today. Just lots of time at the train station. My time with my new niece flew by! 
  • Up late, bad food last night but still a decent ride… until Jeremiah crashed. Bike 90 minutes, 112 watts 
  • Miah can’t swim for awhile, but I didn’t skip my workout! Felt like I was gliding in the pool. 100s were 1:42, 1:40, 1:38
  • Ran 5 miles, 8:52 pace. Slow… but that’s probably good? Kelly says treat Lavaman as a fun training day. 
  • Jeremiah got a hole in his jammers and I think the water aerobics ladies loved if 🙂              Swim 1 Mile of 400s 
  • The Team raised $370 so far for More Than Sport, charity: water! 
  • Ran some miles with Nikki and Sonya. Pace wasn’t too tiring. Maybe I didn’t notice because I had good company! 8 miles, 8:26 pace 
  • Half mile repeats on the newly paved rail trail! 7:15, 7:08, 6:54, 6:50. What?! Ran fast with minimal discomfort! 
  • 24 minutes at 137 watts. Ride felt hard, but I’m thrilled I could hold this for that long! Got a great idea for a blog post…
The juicy stuff! 
That big column is where the meat is! That’s where I found the athlete I strive to be, in between these pages! There are no blank squares here like on the Garmin calendar. There are no empty, demeaning miles. Each journal entry is brimming with proof of an athlete that is passionate and motivated. An athlete who finds inspiration in the miles. An athlete who can accomplish the goals she sets, and make a difference. An athlete who isn’t afraid to get muddy. Or miss a workout to spend time with family. An athlete who skips PT, stays up late and eats crap… but one who is still learning and growing and healing, and laughing and making memories, and exploring new roads. And athlete who is not defined by data!
Girl throws out her scale. What she did next will surprise you! The Update:   I am 90% recovered from my injuries and am thrilled to be racing again!
Pretty excited to win my Age group last weekend at the Saratoga Duathon! 
 
The separation between my training software and I has been so fruitful that I’ve begun to wonder what other data is defining me. Was the number on my scale selling me a hollow view of myself? I stopped weighing myself and started listening to my body. I discovered that I can know if my diet is off just by my energy level, and how tight my buttons are, or how clear my skin looks!
Sure there are seasons when, hey, coach wants us to log our workouts on Training Peaks so she can see how the long run went. Or we are weighing ourselves daily to ensure that we don’t lose too much weight during Ironman training. Or we count the calories, or the pennies in the piggy bank, or the digits on our paycheck and the square feet of our homes. I’m not trying to discard use of data entirely…  I just know that the person you hope to be might be buried underneath all that data, and I hope you give her a chance to emerge!

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