Running is more than just putting one foot in front of the other*. We don’t often think of it, but it’s all a Numbers game. You don’t realise it but you are constantly Number crunching either in your mind or on the computer.
So you’re heading out for a run. It’s a Sunday morning† and you’re off to continue building mileage for your A-race (probably a half or full marathon).
The race is X Miles long, there are X Number of weeks left so today’s run needs to be X Miles long, at approximately X Min per mile pace. Don’t want to be doing too much or too little at this stage!
You check the training plan, you’re either X Miles behind or X Miles ahead of the plan.
During this run you have these Numbers in the back of your mind to progress nicely, nurture the body through these gruelling weeks. Too quick or too many Miles at this stage could mean X = 0 Miles come raceday!
A Number of weeks pass; there are X Weeks left to the race, still too few or too many Miles done according to the plan? We’re at the stage when we look at the X Number of Miles our shoes have covered since we set off on this crusade. Enough mileage left in them, need new ones? X Number of weeks remain, still time for that new pair? Of course there is!
We’re now in the week before our big race. The Number of Miles has reduced. All these Numbers have been taken into account.
Then it’s the Number of hours sleep obtained the night before, usually lower than normal!
It’s a ridiculously early Number the alarm clock is set for, putting
aside the X Number of gels, the
Number of safety pins (usually Four!), One cap, the Pair of shoes…
Work out the Numbers in Hours and Minutes to get to race destination and to park.
We arrive, scan the start area and notice the low Number of loos relative to participants. Quick calculation confirms enough Time to queue. The race starts on Time and you’re off.
The Number of Miles remain determines your X Min per mile, a glance at your watch to determine what X Number your heart rate should be at to maintain the X Min per mile pace to achieve your X Time.
You check your splits, X Minutes down X Miles in and X Miles to go. Quick reassessment of the safe approach – not to increase speed too much…
Over halfway, another reassessment of pace; X Number of water stations to go, X Number of gels taken, X Number more to take before feeling too ill…
If you ran faster you could probably beat your PB by X Minutes, but not too much faster!
Now in the last part of the race; what is an acceptable Number of Meters (not Miles!) from the finish line someone can shout “Nearly There…" ?!
Finishing strongly your average Mins per mile Number has come down bringing you home in X Pace, in a Time of X Minutes, beating your PB by X Minutes. You’re elated!
As you wallow in your achievement you subconsciously calculate the X Miles done in training, the X Miles per week, the Distance of the race, Time taken to finish, X Minutes that could be further knocked off, X amount of Time under or above age qualifying for London Marathon, the X Number of £s it cost to enter this race…
An alternative to all this mathematics is to stuff all the Numbers and go and run Parkruns. Cost is 0 so the only two Numbers to remember are 9 and 5!
*Not all runners, some don’t bother with a watch, distance or time. They just run. We admire runners like these!
† Not all runners do their long run on a Sunday. Some incorporate their long runs as part of their weekly commute. We admire runners like these!