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Too much information?

With a wealth of metrics available to the average runner, are we at risk of getting bogged down in data and losing touch with why we run?


For most runners the idea of keeping a physical training diary went out with wearing your tights over your shorts. Rather than jotting down rough distances, perceived efforts and splits read from a Casio wristwatch into a dog-eared journal, runners now rely on a smartphone or similar piece of wearable tech to help them keep track of their efforts. The running and cycling tracking app Strava last year recorded 86.7 million runs, with UK accounts making up a whopping 16.9 million of that figure.

Nowadays, thanks to GPS tracking, even a quick sweat around the park before work can yield an avalanche of highly detailed statistics. Viewed via an app as different graphs, charts or overlaid on a map, they can make for fascinating, if sometimes baffling, viewing. And that’s before adding in information from a heart-rate monitor or one of the latest generation of power meters. It would appear that when it comes to enjoying your favourite pastime, if it ain’t trending, you’re just pretending.


But can all these stats really make us better runners? “Data has made a significant positive impact on how athletes train, as well as helping coaches be more specific with sessions,” explains Rory Spicer, a coach at online training group Team Dillon. “However, data only goes as far as the user knowing what it means and how to relay this to the athlete.”

Digitally quantifying every run might not, therefore, be the shortcut to improved efficiency and insight it first seems. “The greatest tool we have as runners is still understanding how our bodies react to different intensities without relying on technology,” says Spicer. “So I plan sessions for my athletes that include specific rate of perceived exertion.”

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About Men's Running

Variety, as they say, is the spice of life and when it comes to running nothing could be truer. Whether novice or veteran, once you’ve got your running shoes on the world opens up to you unlike it does for any other sport. If you just want to pound the pavements you can start the moment you step out the door, either following a beaten path or taking a psycho geographical approach to an area. Or you can head off into nature and run the trails, marked or unmarked, and experience the unique challenges they have to offer. At this time of year those who prefer their runs organised can enter multiple events every weekend – from tiny attendance 10Ks to mass participation marathons – and build up quite a medal collection in the process. And if a marathon isn’t quite long enough for you, the growing number of ultra events means your endurance ambitions are well catered for. Then there are the OCRs, charity dashes, duathlons, triathlons and of course your local parkrun. All of which add to the diversity you enjoy when being part of the running community, whatever your ability. Our aim at Men’s Running is to cover all of these bases and offer a balanced view of what it is to be a runner and the issues and topics that affect and interest us all. Drop us an email on and let us know how we’re geting on – we’d love to hear from you. And don’t forget to head over to for more reviews and features, and follow us on Twitter and Facebook for the latest updates.