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The analytics of everyday life

The metrics of a day of skiing: 23 miles covered in about six hours, with a maximum speed of 39.2 mph.

We are obsessed with analytics.

From page views and unique visitors to on-base percentage and ultimate zone rating, we’re tracking and measuring everything these days.

Continue reading below

I, for one, love it. Analytics help me do my job, and they help me enjoy my favorite sports. They help me win arguments and prove points. They fascinate me.

A few years ago, I received a GPS training watch as a gift. I immediately put it to use tracking my runs, and I quickly found I couldn’t leave home without it. It was immensely helpful to discover the real distance of my favorite routes. It helped me train for a marathon. It motivated me.

But after about a year of faithfully tracking every run, and even a few bike rides, I began to tire of tracking my fitness metrics. I started forgetting to recharge the watch, and I started to lose interest in uploading the data to my personal online spreadsheet.

Instead, I got to wondering about what the metrics of other activities would be. Suddenly it was worth charging up the training watch again. I was inspired to wear it for all kinds of activities.

Here’s what I found:

Father-son flag football game

Considering I played left tackle and defensive end most of the game, running 2.04 miles seems like an appropriate distance. More curious was that more than 39 minutes of the 50-minute game was considered “moving time,” probably largely due to our decision to not have TV timeouts.

Mowing the lawn

One important thing to note about GPS tracking – it is not exact, as evidenced by the satellite photo in which I apparently mowed right through a corner of my neighbor’s home.

Skiing at Berkshire East

A smartphone app, Ski Tracks, is my new favorite gizmo for skiing. While it’s a massive battery drain, it tracks you run-by-run and accounts for uploading time on the chairlifts. Still, knowing I covered 23 miles in just shy of six hours makes me feel like I got my money’s worth.

Boston Corporate Challenge

Honestly, I only wore the watch to look more like a runner in this event featuring thousands of participants.

Golden Gate Bridge run

I’ll chalk up a slow time for a 5K distance to the fact the views were astounding and I stopped to take a few pictures. It was also kind of interesting to discover my minimum elevation of 7 feet below sea level.

High school track test

As mentioned, GPS is not exact. This was actually one lap on the innermost lane of the track, but the map plots a course that does not reflect that.

Wave running in North Carolina

Pro tip – go early in the week of your vacation and ask for a discount if you want to do this activity. I’m told the rental agencies, at least on North Carolina’s Outer Banks, get fewer visitors on Sundays and Mondays and therefore are willing to negotiate.

Snowblowing the driveway

At about the 21-minute mark, my speed spiked to 5.5 mph for a brief period of time. I can’t for the life of me explain that.

Follow Matt Pepin on Twitter at @mattpep15.
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