What the Data Makes Us Feel {CELEBRATE This Week: 224}

I am not a natural runner. It doesn’t come easily to me and it’s not much fun. I’m doing it for two reasons:

  1. Jay asked me to run with him.
  2. I like to know I can do hard things.

Because of the sub-zero temperatures in northern Indiana, I’ve been banished to the treadmill. The treadmill makes it nearly impossible. First, I’m alone. Second, the only thing I have to focus on is my speed and time.

We’re far enough into  our couch to 5K training that I shouldn’t still be waiting to hit the point where I fall into the rhythm of the run.  I remind myself that should doesn’t matter.

I’m contemplating whether I should move on in the training because it is just. so. hard, when the weather breaks. It is 37 degrees. The snow is mostly melted from the highs in the 40s the day before, but the black ice makes it treacherous. Wisdom tells me to stay on the treadmill.

As luck would have it, the treadmill is plugged into an outlet that is on the fritz. No matter how much I fiddled, I still couldn’t get the treadmill to stay on. I considered taking it as a pass to skip the run.

Instead I accepted the invitation to run outside. I prayed for firm footing. I started running and didn’t worry about the speed or the time. My feet slapped and my breathing found its beat. Steam rose from the snow and the geese honked from the river. I was still running when I reached my favorite place, the curves through the trees. I paused, realizing I was well past the running cycle.


This thing that was so hard on the treadmill became a gift on the road. I couldn’t help but wonder if that’s how learning is for too many kids.

Learning is a gift. It is fun and exciting. We can get lost in the magic of it.

It can also be nearly impossible.

It makes me wonder about the impact of data. On the treadmill, my data is time and speed. In the world, my data is much more abundant.

It’s the slap of my shoes and the beat of my breath. It’s my prayers and dreams. It’s the whip of the wind and the sound of the birds. It’s the change of the creek and the consistency of the old hornets’ nest.

My data in the world makes me feel alive. My data on the treadmill makes me feel deflated.

I spend the run home wondering why my stamina is so much greater on the road and how the data I give kids about their learning makes them feel.

Perhaps, the way the data makes us feel is the most important report of all.

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This post is part of a weekly offering to celebrate in the middle of the muddle. I hope you join the celebration!

Share a link to your blog post below and/or use #celebratelu to share celebrations on Twitter. Check out the details hereCelebrate This Week goes live on Friday night around 10(ish). Whenever it fits in your life, add your link.  Please leave a little comment love for the person who links before you.


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  1. Oh, Ruth, you’re living your word, moxie! “I like to know I can do hard things.” I love the things you noticed on your run. Your world data is poetic! No wonder it makes you feel alive. Happy weekend, my friend!

  2. Your celebration has so many important reminders for me. My favorite is ” It’s the whip of the wind and the sound of the birds.” On my long drive to school, it’s silent. I pray about my day and listen. The power in the world around us when we open our eyes. Happy Saturday.

  3. There’s so much wisdom here. Although I never thought of myself as an athlete, I also accepted an invitation from one of my kids (to enter a sprint triathlon.) It was a great reminder that, yes, I can do hard things. It’s easier to remind kids of that feeling when it is fresh in your body and mind. (This post is also a great reminder to get moving! There’s been a lot of eating and reading around here since Thanksgiving.) Happy New Year to you and your family, Ruth!

  4. ho, hum, the data…so glad to be done with the annoying part of my former world…but the smiles, the glee, the beginning of noticing how certain words look alike and sound alike…that I miss

    i’m so glad that you got a road run in… it will be awhile to I’m confident of footing xo nanc

  5. Brave you going outside to run. This makes me think that we have to take the risk of going outside the restrictive and sometimes protective box of prescribed assessments and programs to allow kids to have real experiences associated with the joy learning might bring.

  6. I am not a runner but my husband is and he is just plain angry at the cold. He refuses to use a treadmill. I welcomed warmer temps this week to walk my dog a few miles. I try to do this daily, but it’s tough when it’s so rainy and cold.
    The data thing has been tugging on me lately. I love your analogy to help me see beyond the numbers. We really need to focus on the kid first. Data is only a small piece of the puzzle.

  7. “Where the data is more abundant” feels right, for you on the road and for kids learning, too. Lovely to make that connection! I wrote today about my walks and the beauty I find every week. We don’t have that snow, but sun and some cold, good to be out!

  8. I Love this connection to running. When I am outside and unplugged and just running to improve, I feel strong and empowered! When I’m on a treadmill, relying on a Fitbit, or looking at splits. I often feel discouraged. I know I need to do both, but I need to remember those splits aren’t everything. (In life too.) Thanks.

  9. It’s 15 degrees outside right now and I am staring at the snow falling. I wanted to run today and I am still waffling about going to the Y and doing the treadmill or running outside. Ack. You’ve almost convinced me to go outside. I’ll get back to you on that. Either way, I want to start running again. I haven’t since Nov. I love that you try hard things.

  10. Well this post is a celebration for sure! I finally call myself a runner, even though I’m not very good and when conditions are right, I run no more than 5miles (sometimes 6), I like running alone and I don’t like races! Your road looks dreamy as I am in Maine and my road is chopped up, picky, glare ice. I have 5 miles of snowshoe trails on my land and have been snowshoeing for the last month. A rain storm on Friday is giving me the gift of running in my sneakers on my cement packed snowshoe trails. I don’t have a treadmill and can’t even imagine not running outside. I haven’t missed a day…even in our -25 degree days several weeks ago. An extra layer does the trick. You can do this. Especially now that you’ve found this… “It’s the slap of my shoes and the beat of my breath. It’s my prayers and dreams. It’s the whip of the wind and the sound of the birds. It’s the change of the creek and the consistency of the old hornets’ nest.” you’ll never want to stop! Happy running!