Fitness trackers provide some great data. So great that it's easy to become obsessed by it...
Fitness trackers are great but they can cause you to count stuff that isn't that important.
Counting miles, steps and calories is all good stuff. And analysing data is interesting as your fitness progresses.
The problem is all that analysis gets in the way of the most important thing your workouts should bring.
That's what it should be about. We are not professional athletes, we are ordinary joes trying to keep fit. Finding time to get your workout in is a big enough challenge at times.
Worrying about burning calories or walking/running enough steps can spoil your fun.
When I started running four years ago, it didn't take long for me to start obsessing about performance.
So, by the time I started thinking about competing in an event, I was a data junkie.
I wanted to track everything - I'd have counted the number of farts if I thought it proved anything.
Then, I realised that I hadn't been for a run I enjoyed for ages.
Training for events when you are not a talented runner is traumatic if you count everything.
There are days when you might go better than others. But most of the time, you maintain a slow plod. It used to infuriate me because I wanted to be much quicker.
That meant every time I went out running, the heart rate watch was on, along with the stopwatch.
I didn't improve and I started to resent going running at all because the data didn't improve.
Yeah, because "the data didn't improve" that is what I said. And how bonkers does that sound? How about "I didn't improve?" Or my average pace per mile needs looking at?
But that's exactly what can happen. You start to obsess about making your pie charts look nicer - while overlooking the need to consume a few less real pies...
Anyway, A year or so later, I went for my usual run. I'd come back after (another) injury. I wore a watch but I didn't bother tracking anything.
The weather was fine and I felt great. I ran along taking in my surroundings and enjoying the great outdoors. It was the first run I'd completed for ages where I was there for the health benefits and enjoyment.
That one run convinced me that sometimes, it can't be about the data. In fact, it's doubtful how useful all the data is in the end.
So, focus on the good stuff - getting out there and doing it. By all means, use your apps and fit Bits if you must, just don't become a slave to them.