Sunday, January 27, 2008

Numbered Conclusion

Thank you to everyone who left comments after yesterday's "Number Games" blog. It was a heartfelt attempt for me to discuss several topics...in one very long blog post. And I truly appreciate all of your comments and support.

I did want to clarify a few things, as I thought more and more about "numbers" today. An added bonus: I'm a full day removed from the events, from the raw emotions and my feelings. Its a lot easier to be objective at this point, don't you think?

For a while now, I've been mulling over the ideas of "What defines us?" and "What makes us who we are?"

There is no easy answer.

Just as there is no single way to decipher, to break down these questions.

Firstly, I know that I am more than just numbers. I am a feeling, thinking, independent, free-spirited human being who tends to march to the beat of her own drum. (Okay - you called my bluff. I don't march. And I'm pretty sure it's not a drum that I'm "marching" along with... hhhmmmm. Will have to get back to you on that one).

Yes, I'm guilty of following numbers, of pondering over the data they produce, trying to figure out what they mean in a specific context.

But I know for a fact that they don't tell the entire story.

Several of you (very helpfully, I might add), pointed out the heart rate is NOT the only indicator of performance. Training with power, being fatigued, illness, stress, previous workouts, nutrition, hormones (guess what time of the month it is for me? TMI, I know. But I had a pleasant surprise after I hopped off the bike. Go figure. You spend 4 hours in the saddle only to discover your period has arrived 5 days early. Surprise!), can ALL impact heart rate, and therefore your data. Which makes following ONLY heart rate seem pretty silly.

Rationally, I know this.

I realize that heart rate is one small piece of the pie. So is the weight on the scale, for that matter.

So then, why specifically did it bother me so much?

Well, for starters, I tend to "catastrophsize" things. Meaning that when one "bad" thing happens (my weight being up by 4 pounds), it makes other seemingly "bad" things (failure to hit a specific heart rate on the bike) seem so much worse.

However, the REALLY REALLY GREAT thing, is THAT I KNOW THIS! I am aware of this aspect of my personality. (That's half the battle: awareness. Because only AFTER being aware, can we start to make change, and move forward)

I recognize that I do this, and I try to remind myself this in the process. It's not always easy, but usually my rational-self will (try to) take over.

I think what I was trying to say is simply that our numbers can be a great training tool, but they can also be our own worst enemy. WE can turn into our OWN WORST ENEMY. Let's face it: it's hard to focus on the good, when all you see is the bad.

That's why yesterday was such a break through for me: even though I didn't hold my assigned numbers, I still had a phenomenal workout, still grew in the process. Even though it bothered me afterwards (when I saw my splits), once I decided to really give-it-a-go during the workout, I was able to focus, to persevere. I was aware of what was going on - was still upset, yes - but didn't give up or stop in the process.

I realize that we define our numbers. Our numbers DO NOT, in any way, shape, or form define us.

Yes, they are indicators of what we're doing at that specific time, but they - in no way - take any of the aforementioned factors into account.

So while I may have not been all that successful in conveying it, I really was happy with my workouts, even though I didn't necessarily "hit" my target zones. Immediately after the workout, while still caught up in the pure emotion of the piece, its pretty difficult to take a step back and assess the good and the bad. I simply saw the data and went from there. It was during my long bike ride today that I really got a chance to think - to wrap my brain around it.

The jury is still out on "What defines me?" and "What makes me who I am?" I know that I love triathlon. I love Nathaniel. I love Tabbitha... Love the rest of my family (not in that order! My friends and family come first, just that this blog IS about, well, triathlon)... I love good books, wonderful friends, soft slippers, rainy days, sushi, coffee, learning new things, traveling, new bathing suits, soft sourdough pretzels, clean sheets, people who are kind to animals, peanut butter, and peanut m&ms. But this is only the tip of the ice berg, what you see on the outside (and a slight, teensy-tiny bit of the inside). I'm still figuring out who I am, still learning about myself.

But that's simply part of life. The journey that we're all on. Heart rate data and other numbers seem so silly, so insignificant in the grand scheme of things. But I still use them to help me train, still depend on them to help me reach my goals.

In the end, it's easy to get caught up in numbers. But we have to remember that they are just that: only numbers. They don't define us. They don't dictate what we do, what we wear, and should NOT dictate how we feel. They are merely a training tool, an indicator, something that we use to aid us in our development.

But our numbers don't define who we are. We do that all on our own.

1 comment:

Alicia Parr said...

Whew! Looks like I missed some drama! Your run was stupid fast. Throw out the scale. Daily fluctuations are bad for the psyche. How your clothes fit tell you all you need to know.