Strength in Numbers

At my job we talk a lot about metrics. As a nonprofit organization receiving funding from both public and private sources, we're frequently asked to report on the number of youth we serve each day, the number of community members who attend our events, etc. We look at Facebook Insights, email open rates, website hits. Dollars spent per child, % increase in services provided... Numbers, numbers, galore!


So I decided to take a look at my running numbers - the miles I put in, splits I run in workouts, my pace on tempo runs. Numbers don't lie. Miles are miles, paces are paces - you either run them or you don't. Our sport is very simple - if you put in the work, you're bound to see results. And God knows I've put in the work. Double days, high mileage weeks, early mornings and late night 400 repeats solo on the track by the light of the moon. 

Checking lap splits while pacing my little brother to a mile PR
I'd like to say that I draw confidence from my running numbers. The quantitative data is all there in front of me, downloaded from my trusty Garmin. 

Garmin data from a long run in Cleveland
And the numbers don't lie - I'm fit. I should look at my running metrics and be self-assured and excited, gaining mental strength from all the work I've done. But truth be told, I still base a lot of my self-confidence on things that are impossible to quantify.

Instead of looking at the facts - the miles run per week, the paces of mile repeats, etc - I sometimes find myself basing self-confidence on arbitrary measures, like how skinny my arms look in a photo of me running, or how flabby I think my stomach looks when I run without a shirt. These baseless self-assessments that only serve to bring me down. I know it's bad for me, but like all vices and addictions, I keep going back to them.

I shouldn't. I know it's self-destructive. And I'm a smart girl - I should look at the numbers, the facts. 

So arbitrary measures be damned! I'm choosing to find strength in numbers - my
numbers. Miles, paces, splits - all evidence to support the fact that I'm fit. No matter what that little devil on my shoulder might be whispering, I can't and won't ignore the numbers that tell me I'm in the best shape of my life.

To all the young women who similarly let self-doubt creep in and who base self-confidence on things you can't quantify - take a look at your running logs, and find your own strength in numbers! And let that knowledge carry you to fast times and many joyful runs!

See ya, self-doubt! I am CONFIDENT! Ready to take on the world!