Technology, Knowledge and Learning

, Volume 18, Issue 1–2, pp 39–63 | Cite as

Digital Physical Activity Data Collection and Use by Endurance Runners and Distance Cyclists

  • Victor R. Lee
  • Joel Drake


The introduction of sensor technologies to sports has allowed athletes to quantify and track their performance, adding an information-based layer to athletic practices. This information layer is particularly prevalent in practices involving formal competition and high levels of physical endurance, such as biking and running. We interviewed 20 athletes who participated in distance cycling or endurance running and also had experience using these technologies. This paper presents two cases and a number of shorter descriptive examples from these interviews that illustrate the factors salient to the introduction of these athletes to their respective sports, their continued participation in running or cycling, and their use of physical activity data. The effects of these data and logging practices among these individuals are examined, including some of the tensions that these athletes have with respect to quantifications of their performance and how they see themselves as athletic individuals in light of the increased presence of digital data. Educational implications are also discussed.


Physical activity data Fitness tracking Quantified self Bicycling Identity Running Bike computers Affinity spaces Sensors 



This work was funded by NSF grant DRL-1054280. The opinions in this paper are those of the authors and not necessarily of the US National Science Foundation. Sincere thanks go to the members of the VITAL Collaborative at Utah State University who assisted in data collection, the participants who shared their experiences, Utah businesses that assisted in participant recruitment, and three anonymous reviewers who provided a number of comments that helped us to improve this article. Thanks also to Bruce Sherin for helpful feedback on earlier versions of this article.


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media Dordrecht 2013

Authors and Affiliations

  1. 1.Department of Instructional Technology and Learning SciencesUtah State UniversityLoganUSA

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