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msackey

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Article from New York Times about how many world class runners find the fuss with quant data unnecessary.

I’m not as extreme but I do find most of the data to be quite useless and fussy. It may even take away from the important skill of knowing your body sensually.

I’m no longer a competitive runner, but when I was, all I needed was really a timer and knowing the distance which GPS helped. Running intervals regularly on the track helped hone in pacing and correlating with feel and effort.

At this point in my running, it’s time and distance that’s still most useful and heart rate a second point. All other data my Watch collects is fun to look at now and then but I make zero use of it. I don’t fuss with it.

From the article:

For many, GPS watches are a remarkably useful training tool. But there are other runners, including world-class runners like Jacobs, who have a hard time understanding the fuss. To them, a smorgasbord of data is more hindrance than help. And get this: Some runners don’t wear watches at all.

“I like to focus more on the feel of everything and not worry too much about the time,” Jacobs said.


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Howard2k

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Mar 10, 2016
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How would you get your heart rate without a monitor?

Maybe I'm wrong - but seems like more of the same "bah! technology" and "look at me" stuff. We're not forced to use this data. I don't know why choosing not to use it might be a big deal.

EDIT: I'm a a runner, but not a "top" runner or some sort of "athlete".
 

jz0309

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Sep 25, 2018
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Well, if anything this should be bad news for Garmin, I’ve learned from this forum that “real pros” need all that data and AW doesn’t provide it… ;)

Whatever, some things work for some but not others, that’s just - life
 
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msackey

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How would you get your heart rate without a monitor?

Maybe I'm wrong - but seems like more of the same "bah! technology" and "look at me" stuff. We're not forced to use this data. I don't know why choosing not to use it might be a big deal.

EDIT: I'm a a runner, but not a "top" runner or some sort of "athlete".

So I didn’t say I don’t use a GPS watch. I said time and distance were helpful which a GPS provided. Heart rate is helpful but not mandatory, for me. Many GPS watches either have HRM and/or can connect to one. Look at my signature. I use an Ultra. And actually I do use a Polar chest HRM.

I think a point in the article is that some runners even at world class levels don’t want to much extra data.

Reading the article carefully, you’ll see some aren’t Luddites. Some like quant satay but have their reasons to drop that from running.

Back in the 90s when I started running seriously, all we really used is a timer with lap function.
 
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msackey

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Well, if anything this should be bad news for Garmin, I’ve learned from this forum that “real pros” need all that data and AW doesn’t provide it… ;)

Whatever, some things work for some but not others, that’s just - life
Exactly.

Ellie runners certainly existed before all that data. Learning to read one’s body is so important without being necessarily tethered to quant data.
 

Apple_Robert

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Sep 21, 2012
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In the middle of several books.
I track the data from my training and races. I like to note good or negative trends and compare to past days or months, along with how I was feeling, diet, sleep, stress etc. In the end, I do my best to listen to my body but, sometimes, the metrics are solid and the mind lazy.

Everyone is different. Use what works for you.
 

msackey

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I think a point can be that it may not be all that significant not to have all that data for running. Running is really a simple sport compared to many others. ;-)
 
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boss.king

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Apr 8, 2009
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It seems like it's less about the data they were getting and more about a misuse or obsession over the data that made them miss the bigger picture. I'm not an elite runner by any means, and I'm certainly not going to pretend that I know best, but the best part of having a watch tracking my runs is that the data is there if I want it.

For probably 80% of my runs I never look at the data, but for runs where I feel I did really well or really poorly, I find it useful to go back and see if I was really as good/bad as I felt, and if there's anything I pull from the data that might explain it.

I listen to my body first, common sense second, and my watch third.
 

msackey

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It seems like it's less about the data they were getting and more about a misuse or obsession over the data that made them miss the bigger picture.
Yes, I think data obsession is one of the issues. The obsession goes both ways from the runner side and manufacturer side.

You’ve already characterized the runner side in your post so I don’t need to go there.

The manufacturer side, one could say, is providing metrics of things that by and large have no (great) practical utility. It’s like: we can measure it therefore we will. But what then does one do with that data?

Furthermore, some of that data is just combination of measured things that are then argued to mean something. In other words: analytics. For example, Garmin’s body battery: “monitor your personal energy resources around the clock.” It does so from using data like your sleep hours, physical activity, and other data types to then say from this formula, such and such is your body battery. (And then I go: “Oh really?” Lol).

Anyhow, I’m glad Apple hasn’t put that much into these, what I would call, useless metrics. There’s already some data types that look interesting but it’s like then, so what? Ground contact time, stride length are among them. I guess then me doing plyometrics will help me be a more explosive runner with greater stride length (which is true) but do I need a number for that? I’d argue, no.
 

msackey

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Kipchoge wears a Coros. I‘ll keep my Garmin and all the metrics, thank you.
🤷🏽‍♂️

Power of sponsorship? Brand placement? ;-) That’s how many elite runners get to be supported for their running. I don’t know this brand is Kipchoge’s sponsor though.
 

deeddawg

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Jun 14, 2010
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Yes, I think data obsession is one of the issues. The obsession goes both ways from the runner side and manufacturer side.

... and that's really it IMHO -- there's data, and there's actionable information.

Users can get overwhelmed with the available data from the manufacturer's continued featuritis of find new data to provide even if it's stuff most folks can't really do anything with.
 
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msackey

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... and that's really it IMHO -- there's data, and there's actionable information.

Users can get overwhelmed with the available data from the manufacturer's continued featuritis of find new data to provide even if it's stuff most folks can't really do anything with.

With regards to this featuritis, perhaps it's a way to try to differentiate products both within the manufacturer's line-up and against other manufacturer's.

I was a somewhat early adopter of Garmin GPS for runners -- the Forerunner lineup. I didn't use the first three models that came out between 2003 and 2005, but I did use their 4th (year 2006), 5th, and 22nd (haha) models. The 4th and 5th models really just tracked GPS and heart rate, if you used an external HRM. Oh yeah, they also tracked indoor distances and indoor pace if you used an external pedometer (whew, forgot about that! ;-) ). All those data are fairly useful for a runner, though again, I wouldn't necessarily say is absolutely necessary as the article suggests that you can learn to be a good runner using other methods.

I feel like getting into the 2010s is when Garmin started adding other metrics which at first seemed to be awesome (and maybe they were the only ones doing it at that time?) but I quickly came to the conclusion that I didn't know what I could use with those additional data other than, "Look at this. Isn't it cool?", and then moving on.

Seems like from the 2010s onwards, manufacturers of GPS running watches have piled on the metrics and they have convinced a public that those metrics are absolutely essential for their health and/or athletics improvement. 🤷🏽‍♂️

It's a very interesting turn of events because back in the 1990s and 2000s, it was really the bicycling enthusiasts who often geeked out on data (and gear). That was not really the case for the running communities at least in the US that I know, until relatively recently. Kinda weird and interesting!
 

MJ22

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Oct 3, 2017
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I’ve been running since 1994 and am competitive for my region…the only data I really use is the pace and distance. I grew up learning what effort felt like at different paces. I’ve run races where my watch malfunctioned and it didn’t throw me off because I knew what my effort should feel like. I have been a pacer for the local half marathon and I think learning my effort has helped me be a very effective and consistent pacer because I’m not constantly wrapped up in looking at my watch. I don’t get wrapped up in the minutia and I think it’s contributed to my success.
 
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msackey

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I’ve been running since 1994 and am competitive for my region…the only data I really use is the pace and distance. I grew up learning what effort felt like at different paces. I’ve run races where my watch malfunctioned and it didn’t throw me off because I knew what my effort should feel like. I have been a pacer for the local half marathon and I think learning my effort has helped me be a very effective and consistent pacer because I’m not constantly wrapped up in looking at my watch. I don’t get wrapped up in the minutia and I think it’s contributed to my success.
So well said!!

I used to be pretty good with correlating my pace and effort but that was like a decade ago. I've only recently re-started honing some of that skill back (for fun). I can't spend the kind of time (nor do I have that desire or energy) to practice and train like I used to, but honing some of that skill back has been great. I've raced three 5k over consecutive weekends (4th one coming up this weekend) and each time I was just testing myself in terms of effort and pace. My times got better and better substantially. Of course, my physical health didn't actually improve that much in 3 weeks. It was mostly about pacing correctly and putting out the effort at particular levels and particular times. Still practicing! :)
 

Zest28

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Jul 11, 2022
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Same for me. I was super scientific with training and every session was hitting about certain numbers because of science.

But nowadays I do just by "feel" and heart rate only and I actually see much more progress by this approach. And it is also more fun.
 
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Saturn007

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Jul 18, 2010
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Article from New York Times about how many world class runners find the fuss with quant data unnecessary.

Intriguing. Of course, what % of Apple Watch users are “world class runners”?! 😁

For the rest of us, walkers included, the data on heart rate, HR during the exercise, recovery data, average pace or speed per mile, distance, cardio fitness, HRV, etc. — and their trends — can be quite helpful and informative.
 

msackey

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Intriguing. Of course, what % of Apple Watch users are “world class runners”?! 😁

For the rest of us, walkers included, the data on heart rate, HR during the exercise, recovery data, average pace or speed per mile, distance, cardio fitness, HRV, etc. — and their trends — can be quite helpful and informative.
I think the article is about the over-datafication of exercise monitoring.

Perhaps the world of fitness/exercise watches is falling into the larger problem of: if we can measure it, we will. But then we don't really know what any of that means.

Like I could measure the rate of my eye blinks before, during, and after I exercise. But does it really mean anything? Perhaps a marketing company could sell us a convincing narrative that it means something ;-) And that, to me, is where the gobbledy-gook machine perpetuates not only weird narratives but convinces the public that such measurements are necessary.
 
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