Any runner in the country knows of Power of 10. If you don’t, one would question whether you could truly call yourself a runner.

It is the public diary of a runner, out there for anyone to read. It lists all the events you have competed in, what time you ran and where you placed. It displays your year on year progress across every distance you have competed over, be it cross country, a road marathon, or an 800m track race. It’s PB’s and numbers galore.

PO10 well and truly defines people by a number.

Whoever you are and whatever your personality, on Power of 10 you are seen as nothing more than PB’s and achievements to a name. No runner wants to solely be defined by a number, as there is more to us than a PB on a page, but when it comes to Power of 10, it seems to be ok.

If we don’t like being defined by a number on the scales or around our waist, why is a digit representing our PB seen as different?

Well here’s why I think it’s acceptable…

Alongside the digits listed on PO10 comes a sense of pride. You can clearly see on one page the results of all the hours of hard training you have put in.

The times you have managed to run and the PB’s you have set are officially documented.

Not only can you see your results, but everyone else can see your achievements. Your rankings in each event and within your age group are visible, allowing you to track your progress and see where you stand in comparison to others. Whether you are aiming for the top 1000, 100, or 10, you can see who you need to beat and how fast you need to run to do this.

Whilst we could all record the races we run and the times we set, and I’m sure a lot of us do, PO10 acts as a universal database for coaches, athletes, and governing bodies to also see the hard work you have put in. If you have worked and trained hard for your results, you should feel proud to have other people look at them.

Every official race you have ever competed in will be listed on PO10. You can stare at those times you have managed to run for as long as you want.

No matter what pace or level you run at, a PB mean something to everyone. We all want to improve on our previous bests and we all want to see this progression. It gives us a sense of achievement, which we feel proud of. Power of 10 embodies this feeling.

This wet tarmac or following hill isn’t included on Powerof10. Photo: Provided by athlete

PO10 ‘stalking’

Whoever you are, anyone can find out about you and your performances online. You can see what club you run for, who coaches you, and all the races you have been to. There is little information about your running journey that is actually kept private.

The ability for the public to see your results also makes it a lot easier for selections to be made. Results cannot be twisted or made up with PO10. The times you have run and the positions you have come in races are truthfully displayed. This means selectors can assess your ability and witness the potential you hold on a single database.

To me, when writing the round up on the weekend, my job wouldn’t be possible without Power of 10. The ability to find out the details of every runner at the click of a button makes an otherwise impossible job more straight-forward.

However, Power of 10 isn’t all positive and can negatively impact many people, especially when a lot of runners have the mindset of always wanting to achieve more.

Comparison is the thief of joy

The site itself is a breeding ground for comparison. With lists of rankings for every athlete, we are all allocated a position in relation to other runners in the country. Suddenly, the pride you held in your PB is taken away, as we become fixated on beating another individual or improving our position on the ranking list.

We can easily see every runner that is faster than us and consequently we begin to compare ourselves to them. You can track their progress through the years and compare this to our own development.

We may wonder why we haven’t progressed at the same rate as them, or why we aren’t as fast as them, even though we’ve been training longer. This platform for comparison only encourages feelings of self-worthlessness and inadequacy.

If you are someone who is weakened by the thought of not being good enough, PO10 is a dangerous tool, and definitely one to be avoided in relation to checking other people’s profiles.

Striving for improvement

As athletes, we are naturally always striving for more. Which in many respects is what makes us good at what we do, but it can also take the enjoyment out of the journey. PO10 instils principles of seeing ‘where work still needs to be done’ and ‘instilling a sense of purpose and value’, simply reinforcing this never quite good enough attitude at the back of many of our minds.

These values also suggest that without PB’s and the times to our name, we lack purpose and value, suggesting we all simply run to improve our times and move up the rankings ladder. But I can confidently say, for me, this isn’t correct.

If time was the main goal of every runner, training and life would be incredibly dull and boring. Whilst yes, we do aim for times, this comes secondary to us competing for the pure love of the sport, which is how it should be.

PO10 itself and the drive it emits to always be better than we are can take away from each and every single achievement. The journey we are all on should be celebrated, regardless of the times.

Picking a fast race

This isn’t helped by the culture brought around by the Nike Next %’s, that suggests fast times written on paper are far more important than the genuine result of hard training, but that is another blog post altogether. People are even scoping out the fastest parkruns to get in Fast Running’s top ten, so it’s no surprise.

I am in no way against Power of 10. I find it a great tool to use for tracking my own progress and seeing the results of all the races I have done in one place.

However, for those of us, including me, who are prone to comparing ourselves to others, is it really useful, or simply something else to overthink?

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