Running metrics: why to know them and how to run better with SKILLRUN

Running is probably among one the easiest things we ever learn to do. From the very first time we stand up, it naturally comes into us the need to see how fast we can go, thus we increase our footing and in a heartbeat, we begin to run. However, fundamental question arises:

Do we really know how to run from the get-go? Well, not really.

It is common knowledge that we don’t learn to run, we just begin doing so. This is true in part, and we should probably make a distinction between running and running well, that is, running efficiently and safely. We all begin to run, but we need to learn how to run well.

Indeed, running is an extremely complicated task that requires a mechanism of different capacities to work well. As we run, our neurological, psychological, physiological, anatomical, muscular and biomechanical systems must all work in unison.

The mechanics of running

To describe in layman’s term the basic mechanics of running, we could compare it to a ball that bounces on the ground. As it falls to the ground, the ball gains momentum and it accumulates kinetic energy once it hits the ground, and as it lifts from the ground it releases it, using it once more as the ball falls during the  following bounces.

Likewise, our body stores energy and use it for the following steps. It is therefore very similar to the physical motion described by a spring! Therefore, we could compare the mechanics of running to that of a biological spring.

explosive energy on the calf
Though running is just one movement, there are different tasks composing it. The tasks are:

  • Energy saving (when we need to keep the running or walking pace on a flat surface)
  • Power amplification (for example, when jumping, accelerating and incline running)
  • Energy absorption (when we are landing from a jump, decelerating or decline running)

If we are in the first scenario (energy saving), the body transmits its forces and momentum to the tendons, which return most of that energy to the body itself in a cycle and repetitive motion. This means that our muscles need to do very little in order to keep the body moving. This is not the case for the second scenario (power amplification), when higher power production is required. In fact, when accelerating, the muscles start the movement by transmitting the generated power to the tendons, which amplify it and transfer it in a greater fashion to the body. The exact opposite is true for energy absorption: the body transfers all its energy to the tendons, which promptly carry it to the muscles capable of efficiently absorb most of that energy.

In all conditions is always a seamless, finely coordinated teamwork between body, tendons and muscles.

The 5 running metrics to always keep in check

In order for this mechanism to work efficiently, muscles, tendons and body mass need to be perfectly aligned. To align these different components, learning how to run properly becomes imperative.
the way to run properly: doing it indoor
The way to run properly requires assuming the following posture:

  • Arms tight
  • Forward posture with the feet always falling under (or almost) the body’s center of mass
  • Good load distribution (symmetry)
  • High cadence and a low ground contact time
  • Ground strike with the foot in the right position
Which means that the next time you are running, all you need to do is keep in mind all these variables kilometer after kilometerand. Truthfully, the best to have this correct running posture over time is to find a way to keep in check 5 different biometrics, maintaining them at an optimal level. The metrics are:

  • Contact time, or the time that the foot spend on the ground. Ideally, runners should have low contact time, mirrored by a high flight ratio (flight time over contact time), ranges from zero to 50% in the most efficient runners. Clearly, the speed at which one goes affect contact times, with sprinters averaging values between 110 and 150 ms and distance runners averaging between 170 and 350 ms.
group of joggers showing the contact time
  • Stride and cadence: Stride is the length of running cycle, which is the complete movement of both legs while running, whereas cadence is the number of steps per minute. Runners with a short stride and high cadence have minor impact forces and consequently a lower incidence of injuries. Moreover, a higher level of frequency “unlocks” those elastic proprieties mentioned earlier allowing to reduce oxygen consumption of about 20% and to increase running efficiency up to 50%. There is no optimal stride or cadence, as these value change with speed; instead, you should check your natural cadence at a given speed and train with cadence variations in a defined range between +5% and -5%.
  • Symmetry: Better load distribution between right and left foot brings many advantages to both performance and preventive aspects and represents a piece of data that can be easily monitored.
amazing stride in the rain
  • Running Power equals the force and speed a runner is exerting at any given moment. This last metric is the result of the previous ones, and thus varying any of these will consequently vary our power output, making this parameter a sort of immediate and qualitative measure of our running form for a given task.

Having the possibility of quantizing through easily detectable metrics the effectiveness of the gesture performed and the accuracy of the workload means training with quality and, if implemented with your training routing, will surely bring enormous improvement to your running performance.

SKILLRUN is the best treadmill to learn to run properly

How to monitor and improve your metrics with SKILLRUN

With these metrics laid out, it’s natural to ask one question: “how can I measure all these variables at once?” Training indoor, on a device that can monitor all these parameters for you, returning few, clear instant feedbacks, is the best way to have at a glance all of your key metrics and change them in an instant.

Technogym’s SKILLRUN is the treadmill specifically designed for that purpose, to enhance your running technique not just by making you run, but by making you run efficiently.

This treadmill, realized having in mind the needs of the best athletes in the world, displays the 5 major metrics at a glance, providing also the amount of power, expressed in WATT, in real time. The real time data availability allows changing immediately your running posture, leading to an instantaneous improvement of your technique.

But that’s not it. SKILLRUN has also built-in specific training programs to improve your running flexibility under multiple circumstances, mixing energy saving running with incline running, sleigh pushing and parachute running.

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