Monday, January 18, 2016

It is just a number....

I have resumed running; scratch that I have resumed run / walking and it seems to be a big deal already. After a long period of relative inactivity with bouts of ill health in the middle of a crazy travel schedule the year 2015 passed by as a year of limited physical activity and it shows very badly on me.

On the topic of running I am fascinated by this craze of numbers among some runners, the craze for “PBs” or “Personal Bests” if you prefer. People want to flaunt, share, compare, probe from others this number that it seems to be a little silly. This number is relative and that means you need to compare it against something else and since it is a personal best the usual comparison is against another number of the person at another time. There lies the challenge, I find people comparing an apple and an orange and saying that this is a better apple or orange if you prefer.

The number that is the result of a process is subject to a lot of external stimuli which are usually ignored. Let us for a moment try to list out all the possible things that can affect this number: the event itself, the health and fitness condition, the weather, the warm up, the fluid intakes, the climatic conditions, the sweat factor, the winds, the terrain, the gradient, the crowds, the pacers, the company in the race are some I can think of during the race. How about the factors the day before the race?  The amount of sleep last night, the food of the previous day, the work load of the previous day, the mental makeup, the general health and so many other small things. Each of these can alter the final number.

All the above things will be overshadowed by the process that led to this outcome, the process that started many days earlier when this number this PB was not the prime objective but was incidental to the greater plan. I am not too sure how many started lacing up their running shoes one day with a PB in mind, I did not and I am grateful for the same. I believe that in this craze for numbers sometimes we may miss out the bigger picture. I will be interested in knowing your process for the outcome because the outcome the number in itself is meaningless to a third person, what does it matter if the number is any different? I would be happy to learn how I can do a little better than I did earlier, by how much comes later.

If you are a runner do not forget the process that you have followed, be gracious enough to share it to a new comer so that the benefits of running that you have enjoyed is given to someone else, let the numbers speak for themselves, they are after all incidental and true to their name PERSONAL bests only!

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