Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Data Diving

As a geek, I think I'm legally obligated to enjoy crunching numbers and making charts.

I can't explain it, but I absolutely love digging into the numbers and uncovering trends and other fun things.

Lately I've been going over my Garmin data, and I've noticed a couple of interesting things.

Unfortunately, I only have data going back to the beginning of last year -- that's when I got Jennifer's old Garmin 205 because she upgraded to the 405 so she could track her heart rate. Even so, my schedule this year is almost identical to my schedule last year, so the data lines up almost perfectly.
First off, my weight is following almost the exact same path it did last year (and probably the year before that).

(click me, I get bigger!)

On the chart, "0" indicates the weight I hold without really trying (eating normally, and not really training). My goal is to get down closer to the "-10" mark and hold it. Who DOESN'T have that goal, right??
It's not necessarily a good thing, but I don't think it's bad either that I follow the same curve year after year. But when I'm not training for something, my weight starts to creep up on me -- especially over the holidays -- so that's one big reason why my goal this year is to be better about running when I'm not training for something.

My weight is important because that seems to have some correlation with my speed.


Notice how this chart follows a similar trend as my weight?

But something that's interesting is that I wasn't my fastest when I was my lightest:


I weighed the least in week 16 -- the week before the mini. But I ran my fastest race when I was up 3 pounds on my "average" weight (week 9)!

Granted, analyzing my pace like this is flawed because it's comparing runs of different lengths and intensities. This chart is simply showing my fastest average pace of any run for that week (so if I ran 1 mile at an average of 8:00/mile, and another run was a 4 mile speedwork with 7:30's that averaged 8:30/mile, the one-miler would be listed even though the speed miles were faster).
It would be more accurate for me to compare my fastest mile from each week, but it would take too long to gather that data, and I don't think the results would be much different. That would still be flawed, too, because I might not get in a speedwork run or race each week.
Averaging all of my runs together to get my average pace by week is similar to the last chart (especially since there were weeks where I only managed one run for the week), but it doesn't kick out how fast I could be like the last one did. (For instance, week 9 where I ran the Anthem last year with a 7:49/mile average is lost on this chart, which has week 9 as being slower than week 11, where I ran the Rodes with an 8:18/mile average.)



Lastly, we have my total miles by week.



So while my weight does seem to affect my speed, I know that my mileage affects it even more. Last year, I was putting in more miles and more cross-training, so it's not surprising I PR'd every race.

This sport has really grabbed ahold of me over the last few years. Initially, I despised every painful 30 second spurt of running I had to do while doing the Couch to 5K program. Now, I'm eager to get out and nail a tempo run, or PR a race.

My Triple Crown and Mini race times really highlight my progression:


Basically, in 2010 I was just running to support Jennifer. In 2011, I didn't want to be injured again, so I was better about training (although I still slacked off). In 2012, I really got on track and even added in cross-training and some triathlons.

It really goes to show that if you want something, you have to work for it.

What I love most about this sport is how you're really just competing against yourself (unless you're fast enough to win races, that is). I love seeing how I stack up in my division, but what I love most is beating the crap out of my previous record time.

Unfortunately I had to miss the Anthem 5K this year because I was sick, but I've already started making plans for the Rodes City Run (10K) that's a week and a half away. Check back soon for how I'm going to attack that one.

Oh, and thanks for indulging my geekiness.

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