My Love/Hate Relationship with Numbers

I’m an English teacher. I like words. I like writing. That never changes.

Numbers are not for me. Usually. They scare me, make me feel uncomfortable.

My wife once said, “You lack basic math skills.” And although not completely accurate, it was pretty close.


But now I find myself constantly fiddling with the numbers. How many kilometres? Intervals? Averages? Laps?

I love knowing where I am. Am I on pace? Am I going fast enough?

When I see the speedometer on the bike start creeping up into 34 – 35 km/h and higher, I want to push harder. I want to dig deeper.  When my Ipod Nike+ tells me I’m on pace for a good run time, I feel great. I bounce a little lighter. When I touch the wall of a 400m swim in good time, I feel like going again. I love what the numbers can tell me.

On the other hand,

When I see that speedometer drop and my average cadence drop it disheartens me, especially when I’m already red lining. When the clock on the run blows past my desired time and I’ve still got a ways to go, it breaks me.

Photo on 2011 11 02 at 22 28

Throughout the training so far I have had numerical victories, 3rd out of the water in my category in the Wasaga triathlon, my PB 10k run a few months ago.

So, I tried something new. A couple weekends ago, I brought no data devices. No watch for time, no bike computer, nothing. I ran never knowing what my pace was, just feeling my legs and pushing with what I had. I rode Gatineau hills without knowing distance, speed, cadence, nothing. Just the feeling/burning in my legs and my head telling me to dig deep.

To  say it was a success may be premature, but it was interesting. I enjoyed it while running, didn’t while riding. I arrived home in good spirits after the run and I felt good, but I didn’t know if that was because I ran terribly slow. I felt unintelligent.

So, I’m left looking to the numbers. Getting encouraged when they are good and rationalizing them when they go bad.

I’m an English teacher. I like words. But slowly, I’m learning to like numbers, well sometimes.