Thursday, September 11, 2008

Running: To Geek Out or Not to Geek Out?

Here's the elevation of the 10K race I'll be running this weekend in a secret location. When you stretch out the image this way and ignore the numbers, it looks pretty hilly, but from the low point near mile one to the high point near mile five, the change in elevation is not much over 100 feet.

You'd think I'd be able to see a metric such as that and pronounce it hilly or not-so-hilly or inbetween, but no, actually, I don't track the numbers on any of the hills I run, so I don't really know what to say about the hilliness of a ~100 foot change in elevation over four miles. Nor can I make any confident assessment of the shorter but undeniably dramatic-looking peaks and troughs throughout this course. I'll know how hilly it is when I'm running over and through it, but not before.

For all the countless ways runners find to geek out on our sport, I think there's such a thing as thinking too much about running. I have one of those GPS tracker thingies that gives very precise measurements of pace, elevation, distance, and so on, but I rarely wear it. I'm always a little amused at the sight of runners who show up at formal races wearing one of those gadgets -- what, are they going to challenge the results if it doesn't measure out to exactly 10,000 meters? Take that, local chapter of the Knights of Columbus fundraisers!

Then again, I wasn't standing on any medal podiums in Beijing a few weeks back, no world records at any distance stand in any danger when I put on the running shoes, and I'm kind of an asshole in general, so consider the source.

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