Running the Numbers

December 31, 2013: I updated the charts below after finishing my last run of the year. Despite a hectic couple of months with losing my mom and having a house under construction, I still managed to finish the year pretty strong with a total of 134.4 miles. With a baby on the way in March, I don’t expect to beat that in 2014, but I’ll sure try!

Last month I joined an impressively large group of my fellow MailChimp coworkers to run the Kaiser Permanente 5k. It’s usually a good idea to train for a given distance before a race but I barely did so. I managed to finish the 5k in 29:12 but not without several walk breaks. I knew I could do better. Since then, I’ve been running 2-3 times per week and pushing myself on both distance and pace. My last 3 runs have each been 10k routes and all 3 have been personal records for that distance. I wasn’t really that disappointed in my 5k time, but it definitely motivated me.

I’ve enjoyed running since I was in high school and I’ve been a lot more serious about it since my first 10k in 2007. Ames bought a Nike+ sensor for me in 2010 and I’ve tracked almost every run since then. I started out with Nike+ and eventually switched to RunKeeper Pro. I’ve always compared my runs with other recent workouts but I wanted to look back at the historical data to see how it stacked up over the years. Downloading the Runkeeper data was really straightforward. Not so much with Nike but I found a web app created by @stuehler that uses their API to build an export:

After merging the Nike+ and Runkeeper data in a Google Drive Spreadsheet, I plotted the number of miles over the last 4 years by month to compare seasonal patterns. I also tallied up the miles for each year.

It wasn’t a surprise that the patterns were inconsistent but seeing the data laid out like this was very interesting. I always feel like I’m struggling to fit running into my schedule but based on the data, the biggest factor is temperature. I hate running on a treadmill so November-February is always pretty quiet. I can also tell you that sleep plays a pretty big role as well. Our daughter was born in early March 2012 and I didn’t have the energy to put my running shoes back on again until June.

I’m sure for some runners, these charts are laughable but for me, they’re very inspiring. I can hardly believe that I’ve run over 323 miles since 2010. It was also great to confirm my suspicion that October was my best month on record. As the temperature continues to drop here in Atlanta, the chart above tells me that it’s going to be hard to keep up my early morning routine but one thing’s for sure, you won’t find me on a treadmill.

P.S. Google Drive’s embedded charts don’t play so well with WordPress. I was about to post my charts here as *gasp* giant images when I found this amazing WordPress plugin called Visualizer. If you have to embed any type of chart in a WordPress post, I highly recommend it.

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