Competing Without Instruments – It’s Possible, But Not Recommended

As I’ve written before, one of the ways that B2B marketing is similar to endurance sports is that both are relentlessly focused on metrics. We track every aspect of on-line marketing efforts in order to prove marketing contribution and ROI. Data such as total visits, new sessions, channel specific metrics, bounce rate, total conversions, and lead-to-close ratio give us B2B marketers an accurate view of our efforts and success. Triathletes have the same instincts. We track our heart rate, power output, and cadence as the key inputs, and speed (of course) as the key output. Well, what would happen in  a world in which we were competing without instruments?

Competing Without Instruments at the Patriot 70.3

Yesterday was my annual race at the Patriot Half triathlon. Since its inception in 2007, I’ve missed the race only once, and it always proves to be a lot of fun. Yesterday’s weather was ideal, so I felt confident even though my spring preparation was not up to standard because of the record snowfall and late New England winter.

Through a combination of oversight on my part, equipment failure, and just plain curiosity, I ended up competing without instruments. First, I found myself engaged in a chatty conversation as the 1.2 mile swim started, so I failed to start my watch. Next, my bicycle computer shut down for good about 1 mile into the 56 mile ride, so I had no idea of my speed. As I got comfortable with the idea of having no data, I simply decided not to start my watch as I began the 13.1 mile run.

What I Learned: It’s Possible, But Not Recommended

Competing without instruments is anathema to triathletes like me. The biggest factor in my overall time is my run. And to have a successful run, I really need to make sure I don’t work too hard on the bike. That was a bit of a challenge yesterday, when I had no indication of my speed. So I rode by feel, using my instinct to determine when I was putting in too much effort.

Truth be told, I actually prefer NOT to know my speed on the run. Having my per-mile pace is great when the run is going well. But when things aren’t, watching my pace get slower and slower only leads to disappointment and a further deceleration. So not starting my watch was no big deal.

race_1323_photo_20778244It turns out that I had a great race. I finished 75 seconds faster than my 2014 results.  My swim was 2 and half minutes faster. My bike was 1 minute faster. I averaged 20.9 miles per hour instead of 20.7 last year. But my run was 80 seconds slower (8:17 minute mile pace instead of 8:11 last year).  I finished 8th of 52 competitors in my age group this year, vs 3rd of 40 last year.  Which leads to another parallel between marketing and triathlon – it’s all about who shows up!

I wouldn’t recommend racing a triathlon without instrumentation, and I certainly wouldn’t recommend marketers to compete without instrumentation. Data is key to results in both areas. What do you think? Have you competed without instrumentation before? What were YOUR results?

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