Do you know how you run? A study on foot strike patterns.

In the past three years, for my PhD, I had the chance to evaluate the running technique of around 250 people. I dealt with a wide spectrum of experience levels an running styles. The most common feedback I received, though, is that people don’t know how they run. Even semi-pros.
An article about foot strike patterns, of which I am the first author, was published two days ago on the Annals of Biomedical Engineering. This study was mainly aimed to validate an automatic foot strike patterns assessment method. But what is the foot strike pattern (FSP)? Nothing more than the way our feet come in contact with the ground. If you simply divide the foot into three equal parts, you can call them fore- mid- and rearfoot (see Figure 1).
Figure 1 Foot division and nomenclature.
By looking at which of the three parts comes first in contact with the ground, one can determine the FSP and classify it as forefoot, midfoot or rearfoot strike (FS, MS and RS, respectively). It would be possible to use a videocamera to analyze this kind of events, but we went a step further by using a pressure plate integrated in a treadmill. With an algorithm we developed, we are now able to recognise the FSP automatically, without the need of looking at the data. In Figure 2 you can see what happens on the pressure plate at impact and the relative video frame captured by a slow motion camera.
Figure 2 Video and pressure plate data for different FSPs.
Funny thing is that, if you ask the people how they think they run, very often they cannot predict their FSP. Interestingly enough, though, it is very likely that they will show a RS pattern while running shod. Across the 145 people measured (85 male, 60 female) almost 9 every 10 were striking with the heel first when wearing shoes. On the contrary, only 5 out of 10 were keeping this kind of pattern when running barefoot (see Figure 3). Apparently, the fear of getting hurt prevails on the well-established coordination patterns.
Figure 3 FSP distribution across two running conditions at preferred speed.

The reasons why people choose one or the other FSP are far from being completely understood. And this is what makes my job awesome.

September 2015 – Training recap

With September the preparation for the winter season continued in the name of volume with just a bit of quality. I kept on running some 10k race pace and started retrieving a bit of speed.

As usual, you can see all my training sessions details on the SportTracks mobi service.

Here the diary entries for the past September:

Tu 01/09/2015 Off.
We 02/09/2015 Easy 40′.
Th 03/09/2015 Easy 45′ with some intervals (15’+10×30″+15′).
Fr 04/09/2015 105′ sailing (Uni-Jolle, Friday Regatta).
Sa 05/09/2015 Legs and core strength. Off.
Su 06/09/2015 Arms, legs and core strength. Easy 60′, 5×100 m strides (100 m jog rest).
Mo 07/09/2015 Easy 40′.
Tu 08/09/2015 Easy 15′, 4 km tempo run (10 km race pace), easy 15′.
We 09/09/2015 15′, 2 strides on grass, 8×60 m sprints on grass (60 m jog rest), CD.
Th 10/09/2015 Arms, legs and core strength.
Fr 11/09/2015 Easy 60′.
Sa 12/09/2015 Slow 40′. 90′ sailing (Laser Bahia).
Su 13/09/2015 55′ slow inline skating.
Mo 14/09/2015 Hilly 20′. 25′ progression.
Tu 15/09/2015 Easy 45′.
We 16/09/2015 20′, 2 strides, 5×200 m uphill reps, CD.
Th 17/09/2015 20′, 2 strides on grass, 2x(200, 300 m on grass, 100, 200 m jog rest), 5×60 m sprints, CD.
Fr 18/09/2015 Slow 40′, arms legs and core strength.
Sa 19/09/2015 45′ aggressive inline (skate park).
Su 20/09/2015 Easy 60′.
Mo 21/09/2015 Easy 30′, 10×100 m uphill sprints (100 m downhill jog rest), CD.
Tu 22/09/2015 Slow 40′.
We 23/09/2015 60′ MTB.
Th 24/09/2015 Easy 45′.
Fr 25/09/2015 Arms, legs and core strength. Easy 45′.
Sa 26/09/2015 Slow 20′, 2 strides, 4×300 m strides (150 m jog rest), slow 15′. 60′ aggressive inline (skate park).
Su 27/09/2015 Slow 25′, 1×1000 m, short CD, 90′ MTB. Easy 30′.
Mo 28/09/2015 20′, 4 strides, 2×4 laps relay (8×250 m, 100 m jog rest), CD.
Tu 29/09/2015 Off.
We 30/09/2015 Easy 40′ with some speed.