Just do it.

December 20, 2014

In January I paid RunKeeper to use the data I gave them the previous year, and give me insight. The numbers and charts were disappointing. This wasn’t insight I thought to myself. I wrote that what mattered was the experience. One year later and RunKeeper still charge you for insight.

I discovered that RunKeeper enables you to export your data. ‘Get your export on’ as RunKeeper says. I downloaded my activity data as CSV, and attempted to analyse it.

What do you do with lots of data? Add up the numbers of course. I wanted to compare the last 2 years. The numbers were again disappointing. They didn’t tell me anything interesting that I didn’t already know. More workouts meant more duration and calories burned. Less cycling meant less distance and climb.

It was time to visualise the data for 2014 with some charts. Maybe charts would give me insight. First I charted workout duration, with a linear trend line.

The trend line showed me that my workout time had increased during the year. Combined with the data points a picture of consistency over the year emerged. I had a sudden realisation. I knew this already!

The RunKeeper app has a ‘workouts per week’ chart on the ‘Me’ tab. It’s a simple and effective visual of how many workouts you do per week, for the last 10 weeks. I realised that I had been using it during the year to motivate myself. I had been aiming for at least 3 workouts per week. If I fell behind one week, I would workout more the next.

Next I charted workouts per week, with a monthly moving average trend line.

This chart showed me a picture of where my consistency changed. In February I went on a work trip to New Zealand and San Francisco, and in April I had a few weeks holiday. Of course the data doesn’t tell the full story. I did a lot of walking in New Zealand and San Francisco which I didn’t record in RunKeeper.

The wearable devices wave is coming. We will be capturing more data about ourselves than ever before. This will create many possibilities, and raise many more questions. We need to use these devices to enhance our experience, and drive our consistency. And remember you don’t need to pay for insight. Just do it.