Measurement is Motivation!

I did the Dublin Marathon a couple of months ago and for me it was an extremely positive experience – I loved it, I loved every blister and piece of skin I shed, every cramp I endured, every nail that turned black, every 5am jog and (nearly but not quite) every one of the 1,192 kilometres I ran preparing for it – I loved it all and it showed …… and so they asked me in work to write a piece for the blog about it!!

On reflection there really are so many aspects of marathon training that relate to business as well ……. Everything from goal setting and good time-tables to the power of positive thinking are crucially important – but of course you don’t have to have run a marathon to know that!

I wondered what the key aspect of the whole experience was for me personally – what was that single nugget of invaluable advice I was given – what gave me the edge – what motivated me – what kept me going – and what made the whole experience so rewarding for me!!
And my answer is quite straight forward – my Garmin FR610 GPS running watch …. As odd as it sounds, I couldn’t have done it without my Garmin!!

I’ve jogged, like most people I know, inconsistently for 10 years now. I’ve even managed the odd race, a mini triathlon or 10km run mostly with my siblings. Though looking back now over the years I’m aware we never really improved that much. In the spring we’d make a start and generally run about 10km in 50 minutes and by the end of the summer we’d be flying and could do it in maybe 45 minutes! Its hard sometimes to be sure – or remember … what was our best time last year? …. Which route did we run that day? ……. Could that be right? These questions all have a familiar ring to them – and this is the crux of the matter, there was no measurement and there are no records!! Ten years of exercise and other than the satisfaction of finishing the odd race and generally enjoying the experiences – did we achieve anything, did we improve? I can’t even say I did a particular race in a particular time … or what my fastest lap of the local park was…… because I can’t really remember, we simply weren’t keeping score as such.

But something changed a couple of years ago when I got a gift of a GPS running watch – all of a sudden I could see what pace I was running there and then in real time – and everything was recorded, maps of the route, date, time, heart rate, average pace, everything …….. saved there forever to be reviewed and compared.
Not a big deal initially, well not for my first few jogs anyway but when I went for my fourth jog and could see the progress being made – It was like an adrenalin shot and I was hooked …. Simple as that.

I’m not saying this is a must or the be all and everything to success, clearly it’s not. Tens of thousands of people ran the Dublin marathon this year without a GPS watch …… and a lots of them didn’t keep much of a training record and didn’t do much analysis of theirs runs either! They picked a goal, whether it be 4 hours or just finishing – and they gave it their all, did loads of weekly miles and hoped for the best on the day – and it worked for them.

But if you want to make progress, if you want to do better, if you’re ambitious – there is a secret ingredient in my opinion ….Measure it!

GPS running watches are a fairly new technology and so didn’t exist a few years ago – instead people had a stopwatch and used that old thing they were taught to use in school, their brain.
But trust me this can be difficult, especially with sweat pouring down your brow and your lungs aching for oxygen and your eyes are popping out your head while little white stars are shooting out at the periphery of your vision as you round that last corner – its hard to think straight and do and arithmetical calculation in your head to see if your still on target! The Garmin will do this for you though. Its much easier to just look down, lift up your wrist and try to focus your eyes on the screen. Am I on target? what’s my pace? how far have I left? Its all there …. You don’t have to think (you cant think!) – all you have to do is look and focus your eyes and keep going, try to keep going – just one more K to go!

And after your run you just press save and all that information, your heart rate, pace, incline, your distance, for the whole session is saved and broken down by each individual kilometre too – its all saved there forever. As much information as you will ever want. You can download it on to your PC and view a map of your run …. You can replay it and watch it as your heart rate rises and falls as you run through the back section of the park and then down the hill as your pace picks up and on and on and on. A year later you can click on that same run and compare to how you are doing this year – its all saved there forever on the Garmin website.

This is what made the difference for me – this is what changed me from a happy plodder to a happy runner! Measurement, feedback, records and comparison – Information. In a way, measurement is motivation!! If we can’t see the progress we are making we often become de-motivated. Faster feedback can mean we can make adjustments and improvements earlier, instant feedback means we can make adjustments immediately and avoid setbacks. Keeping good records means we have reference points – we can draw on facts about past experiences not just embellished memories of them ….. and we can therefore learn more from the past and use it.

So if you’re going to buy a gift for that special person in your life – and if they are a jogger, buy them a Garmin …. It’s the best running watch in the world!

Endorsed by TPI staff: Garmin FR210 and Garmin FR610 (Dec 2012)

Brian Grehan

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1 Response

  1. colin says:

    Well done Brian on finishing it and in a great time for anyone. Brilliant. And you did it without making any fuss or it affecting your performance and form here at work. Finishing one is not an easy thing for an experianced runner to do. You did a lot more then that.

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