Metrics That Matter: Pancakes and 5Ks

On Saturday I ran the Diploma Dash 5K at the University of Texas at San Antonio.

There was a time when I completely overthought races like this.

I’d go pick up my packet days before the race, I’d pick just the right set of running gear for the next day, I’d completely overthink race day nutrition, and I’d pack a pile of clothes to change into after the race in case I wanted to.

None of this factors in the time I spent researching my times, heart rates at specific points in previous 5Ks, and additional time spent completely overthinking my approach to the race at hand.

Not so much anymore.

On Friday evening, I went to watch the Our Lady of the Lake Women’s Basketball team win its fifth consecutive conference championship. I wasn’t worried about what I ate. I just enjoyed time with friends. I didn’t get home early. I didn’t get a good night’s sleep.

There’s a larger lesson about life and work to be had here.

It’s easy to get wrapped up in metrics. Do any kind of google search on the topic and you’ll find enough articles on metrics and big data to make your head spin. The hard part is figuring out what matters and having the courage to stick with it.

I say this, even as a former analyst and as someone who still relishes every opportunity to build a case using data. Metrics that matter only come about when you spend time focusing on the things that make a difference and resist the temptation to measure everything just because you can.

On Saturday, I woke up with just enough time to throw on whatever running gear was clean and get out the door. I picked up my race packet on site a mere 30 minutes before the race began.

I ran the race like any other run. I pushed hard here and there, but never really thought about how I was doing compared to previous years. I even stopped at every water station because, heck, I was thirsty and wasn’t worried about my time.

The only metric that mattered was meeting my friends at the 5K, and getting pancakes with them afterward.

And to that end, it was a complete success.


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