Is There Life Without Data?

Recently I have been wondering what it would be like to go training these days without the use of a Garmin to both record data and guide your sessions. These thoughts started recently when I was watching some clips of athletes training in the 1970’s and the coaches were stood trackside with the old fashioned analogue stop watches, shouting out splits. It made me think, what did athletes without coaches do?

In those days what did people like me do? How would I have trained effectively and made the best use of each session?

I know that an over reliance on data is not always a good thing, I certainly struggle sometimes when a run session says go at 7.5 out of 10 on feel. What is 7.5, what pace is it or what heart rate does it equate to?

The reality is you should be able to judge your session on feel, but I think over time you get use to using heart rate data or pace data and using that to make each training session as meaningful as possible.

If it is hard for an athlete not to have data, how would a coach go about monitoring the progress of an athlete and set appropriate training?

I do go on runs without having predefined targets and I often find these really enjoyable, but they are at times some of the hardest sessions as I don’t know how much to push. For these runs I tend to head off-road and hit the trails as here pace is no longer such as issue it’s much more about enjoying the countryside.

What about when it comes to racing, well here I have an admission, basically the data goes out of the window and it is a case of go as hard as possible for as long as possible. Well, that is not the complete truth but in essence that is what happens, I do look at the pace but I try not to let that dictate my race, as how else would you ever get a pb as you need to push harder here.

So, for me data will continue to form a very important part of my training as it allows sessions to be targeted and so make best use of the time available, but there will always be those runs where it says go out and run with no targets and on those days, the Garmin will be used to record not to drive.

Data is a big part of modern life, we collect data on many things and so training data is just another form. I do wonder though how many people ever actually look at the data and then go back and analyse their sessions, look for patterns and try and understand the highs and lows? In these times data litters everything, and so the question is valid, do we need training data, well have a think do you really need it and do you actually use it?

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