Measuring What Matters?


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I measure everything because it makes it easier to gauge how I’m doing, whether I’m improving and to set goals. I know how many steps I took yesterday, how long I slept last night, how many calories I consumed so far today, how many emails I eliminated from my inbox and how many calls I returned.

As a triathlete, I’m obsessed with my workout data, largely because I’m really pressed for time and have to make every swim, bike and run count. After a run, I know my total mileage, my pace per mile, elevation changes along the route, my heart rate, my vertical oscillation or bounce, my stride length and my cadence (how many times my feet hit the ground per minute). I use an algorithm to pinpoint what kind of stress I put on my body during that session and how much recovery time is necessary before the next workout. I get as much data about every bike ride and swim.

It’s a science except when it’s not.

Both the human body and life can be unpredictable. I, for example, did both a swim and a run following my TEDx talk. Neither were my best workouts because I had gotten up at 4:00AM and expended a ton of energy (physic and physical) that morning. I can usually predict my race times pretty closely, but there are times when I’m way faster than I expected and other times, where I’m going all out and falling short of where I expected to be. Stress levels, the weather, nutrition, sleep, crowds all play a role on race day.

It’s predictable except when it’s not.

Measuring everything allows me to make data-driven decisions, gives me a more objective sense of efforts vs results and helps me get better.

Measuring everything also helps me to understand that those measurements are sometimes inaccurate and that some things in life – the best things – are simply immeasurable.