Let’s Talk About Strava, Garmin, and Too Much Data

One day during a hill workout, my coach instructed me not to use my lap button. I had so many hills it would have been an annoyance to use- and I had no pace goal for the hills anyway. I just had to do the work by medium effort. While pushing up those hills, it occurred to me how freeing it felt to not have to look at my watch. I was also free of data to compare myself to anyone else, or any of my own previous runs. That day, I cut the cord from Strava and Garmin.

Now I do love giving kudos and comments to my friends when they have a good run based on their goals. I like seeing other workout ideas. I love seeing the inspiring paces of some of my friends. The main downside is thinking about my data again during the day, when I go back to read the positive comments left by supportive friends.

So, why does cutting the cord feel so good? First, comparing myself to me from a year or two ago, is absolutely useless. So many factors affect a run, or a month of runs, a year of runs, even if it is the same hills, or the same segments run before. Did I sleep well? Food and hydration off due to a holiday? Feeling a pull in my hamstring? Hormones affecting me? Being 42 instead of 39? Stressed? Did I run 10 miles this week or 55 miles? On the other hand, am I feeling great so I am running better? Is it that one of my speedy friends is pacing me, so my run is faster this time?

Comparing myself to my friends isn’t useful either because each day, week, month, and year, we are all on different journeys, different life circumstances, or have different gifts. Some of my friends are super speedy in all things! Some are excellent sprinters. Some are excellent trail runners. Some could care less about paces and just show up to run with the group. Some show up to group runs but need to run alone for a variety of reasons. Some are injured or recovering. Some just had a baby or surgery recently, are coming back to running, and even just show up to walk. Some are focusing on gaining muscle strength in the weight room and doing less running. Some have run 25 marathons, and some have run none. Some are training for a 10K, others a half marathon, or an ultra trail race, or no race at all. There are too many variables to compare myself to anyone else.

Focusing too much on data interferes with remembering my WHY. I run because I like the form of exercise and I love my running community. I love the women I get the opportunity to spend this time with multiple times a week. For now, less emphasis on data helps me focus more on the important stuff. My coach checks it to make sure I am on track. I want to spend a minimal amount of time thinking about mileage, heart rates, or paces, except during the small amount of time committed to speed work, and only during a training cycle.

If you use Strava or Garmin, and you are finding it useful and positive, keep doing what works for you. If like me, you need a temporary or permanent break, enjoy cutting the cord!

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