“Hey, you can’t park here!”; “Oi, you need to wear a mask to get in this supermarket!”; ‘What are you wearing a collared shirt for? This is a coders’ convention! Take it off at once!” We all hate being told what to do, but the sad truth is; sometimes a voice barking in your ear is the only thing – save for a whip and chair – that can get you to improve personal performance. And nowhere is this more obvious than in running, as forcing yourself to put your feet forward faster hurts. Well, it does for me anyway.
But it’s one thing to ‘kind of know’ something and a whole other thing to actually prove it, so sportswear brand Under Armour decided to put some science behind this theory. They chose to properly test the Form Coaching feature in their HOVR sneakers which offer audible feedback and advice to runners on the go on how to improve their workouts. In order to prove that their feature really works, Under Armour used anonymous data from around 87,000 Form Coaching users on MapMyRun who completed at least 1.6km runs between January 1 and September 25 last year. The control group naturally enough were the non-Form Coaching runners on MapMyRun.
The results are amazing – if not so surprising to those of us who have learned the hard way that we do better with a personal trainer and/or bossy training mate – those runners who trained with Under Armour’s Form Coaching ran 7% faster and 3% farther than those who didn’t. So, going by these results, we are all likely to have the potential to go a little bit faster and last a tiny bit longer, which is nice to know.
Of course, just bellowing at someone to run faster isn’t going to work for long so the Form Coaching feature is based on adjusting our natural cadence or running rhythm. We may think we’re running at the right pace but in reality; we might not be travelling at our optimum speed and therefore may be expending more energy than necessary. Form Coaching takes into account our height, weight, fitness level and normal running pace and tries to find the cadence sweet spot from there. Based on these results of ‘faster’ and ‘longer’, it looks like Form Coaching is proving pretty successful at finding it as Jeff Knight, a senior manager in Digital Product Science – and former running coach – points out; “We know from industry research that cadence is closely related to how running feels. So if you can get your cadence right, your running is going to feel a lot easier. And if you can optimise your cadence, then you’ll reduce the amount of impact your body feels when it makes contact with the ground.”
These learnings could prove even more useful at the moment due to the difficulties of training with personal trainers and/or groups due to the on again/off again lockdown vagaries of COVID-19. It’s nice to know we can still reach our optimum cadence even without having someone alongside bellowing in our ears!
Look for these all new Under Armour running shoes, out now at Under Armour Brand Houses:
HOVR Machina 2
Mixing the speed of a racing shoe with the comfort of a long-distance trainer, the HOVR Machina 2 features a high-ventilation mesh fabric for improved breathability and reduced weight. Also look for the new thinner tongue construction that retains less moisture.
HOVR Infinite 3
Created for distance training, this ultra-performance shoe aims to provide goal-oriented runners with a consistent feel through an infinite number of kilometres. Features a brand new HOVR midsole with 30% more cushioning for an even more energised ride – plus fewer internal layers for that lighter feel.
HOVR Sonic 4
For the runner who wants something easy, this shoe offers the perfect blend of cushioning and responsiveness. Now featuring a high-ventilation mesh fabric for improved breathability and fewer internal layers for a lighter feel.
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