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Running Is Like A Business: Know Your Metrics

  • By Jeff Gaudette
  • Published Oct. 18, 2013
  • Updated Oct. 21, 2013 at 9:42 AM UTC
Instead of focusing on speed during training runs, think about what you're trying to accomplish. Photo: www.shutterstock.com

Workouts As Fitness Measurements

It’s easy to get frustrated and feel like you’re going backwards after a tough workout. I’ve had more than a few training sessions in my career that lead me to wonder if I had somehow completely lost it. After one rough workout three weeks before an important 10K, my coach said something to me that I’ll never forget: “Workouts are for improving specific physiological systems, not for proving how fit you are. You prove your fitness on race day.”

That statement hit home and it’s something I’ve never forgotten.

When analyzing workouts it’s tempting to compare splits and workout times to potential race performances. However, the two rarely correlate.

Perhaps you’re working on speed, which is a weaknesses for your predominantly slow twitch muscles, or you’re heading into the workout with tired legs to help simulate marathon fatigue. Regardless, you may find yourself running slower than expected or struggling to maintain race pace. This can be frustrating and demoralizing if you’re always looking to measure your workout performance with race potential.

However, if you focus instead on executing the purpose of the workout and completing it to the best of your ability, you’re making progress physiologically, which will ultimately lead to a personal best on race day.

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Your Takeaway: You should only use your workouts to measure progress when compared to similar workouts under similar conditions, not as a measurement of race times or potential. Remember, workouts are for improving specific physiological systems, not for proving how fit you are. You prove your fitness on race day.

The next time you’re analyzing your training or looking for areas to improve, make sure you’re evaluating the right metrics or you could find yourself working hard with nothing to show for it.

Have questions or have other example of vanity running metrics? Let us know in the comments section, we would love to hear them.

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Jeff Gaudette

Jeff Gaudette

Jeff has been running for 13 years, at all levels of the sport. He was a two time Division-I All-American in Cross Country while at Brown University and competed professionally for 4 years after college for the Hansons-Brooks Distance Project. Jeff's writing has been featured in Running Times magazine, Endurance Magazine, as well as numerous local magazine fitness columns.

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