For the last eight years (2012-2019), I’ve been keeping tracking of my daily steps and miles using a pedometer. I realize there are better gadgets to do this: Fitbits, watches, and phones that will do this job with more data and better graphics. I like to “roll my own” and I thought I would write up what I have been doing. I welcome constructive feedback; my goal is to maintain and improve my fitness as I age through data analysis.
I record my mileage data daily and analyze my results weekly, monthly and yearly. Here is a link to my monthly and yearly mileage data in a Google Sheets file. In Table 1, I want to look at my mileage results on a yearly basis; I’ve also included my age. I can see that my mileage increased significantly after 2013, one reason for this is a greater emphasis on hiking and running. I can also see a drop in yearly mileage in 2016; this was due to some medical problems that required surgery, I had some months were I couldn’t exercise very much. In 2017 and 2018 I was training for ultra marathons and had increased my annual mileage. I find having yearly goals, such as races or long distance hikes, motivates me.
Here’s a summary of the mileage I’ve done month by month. Table 2 provides a monthly view of my mileage.
For example, in the first three months of 2016 my mileage was lower than usual, these were months when I was recovering from surgery. Looking at the monthly mileage data, a high mileage month for me has been greater than 300 miles. For each month, I have computed the mean monthly mileage. My mileage tends to be lower in the shorter winter and early spring (December through April); the most likely cause is the dreary Pacific Northwest winters I manage to slog through each year. There are some exceptions such as 2018 when I was training for a 100 miler in the winter and 2019 when I spent time in South America during the winter.
Another way I like to view the monthly mileage data is a cumulative view. Table 3 shows the cumulative monthly data over the course of a year.
The sum of all the yearly mileage is 23,831 miles over 96 months or 248 miles per month. Now, how does this compare to my goal performance?
In 2014, I decided to set a goal of 3000 miles in a year. A yearly goal of 3000 miles works out to an average of 250 miles per month or 8.22 miles per day. Before that, I had goals but they were haphazard. Here are my monthly goals for each year (adjusted for leap years.
Once I had my goal and actual monthly mileage, I can compute the difference. A negative number indicates that I am less than my goal. Figure 1 shows the cumulative difference from goal over eight years.
Figure 1 shows five trends that are significant to me.
- January, 2012 to May, 2014 there is a negative slope: every month my actual monthly mileage was generally less than my goal of 250 miles per month./li>
- June, 2014 to December, 2015 the slope is mostly positive; my actual miles were greater than my goal of 250 miles per month.
- January to July, 2016 the slope is again negative; this is the period of time when I was recovering from surgery.
- mid-2016 until the end of 2018 I have been (mostly) exceeding my goal of 250 miles per month; the slope is positive with a few wintertime plateaus.
- For 2019, the slope is still positive but not as steep, I haven’t been traing for ultra marathons; only a trail marathon and lots of hiking
Keeping track of my monthly mileage difference from goal provides me some useful month to month feedback. Of course, I am motivated by numerical metrics; not everyone is. I have discovered there is a quantified self community; that discovery came just a few years ago. I welcome feedback from everyone. It’s good to learn from others!
I find that this feedback, along with yearly specific hiking or running goals such as run a 100 mile race or hike the Appalachian Trail (a 2020 goal) keep me on track and motivated.
In part 2, I will add my daily and weekly hiking and running goals and tracking methods.