We recently had the opportunity to join a video call supporting the launch of NURVV RUN which featured an in-depth range of tips and Q&A from NURVV RUN’s Biomechanics team regarding metrics, injury prevention, pace development and more.
We also heard from British 800m runner Adelle Tracey and we will be featuring some tips from her very soon on RUN247.
Here is some of the advice from the NURVV RUN’s Biomechanics team:
Q. What are the three main metrics beginner runners should be aware of when starting out?
A. The most important metrics for runners will vary based on individual fitness levels as well as overall biomechanics. Generally, anyone who is just starting their running journey should pay close attention to their training load, pronation and balance metrics.
Maintaining an optimal training load will help a runner to avoid falling into overtraining and ensure a safe progression in their weekly running mileage. This will, in turn, help them to minimise risk of lower limb injuries caused by overuse and exposure to acute load and will allow them to achieve small, but constant improvements to their running abilities.
Another important metric for runners to monitor is pronation, which refers to the inward rolling motion of the foot from when it makes initial contact with the ground and progresses to a full foot ground contact during a single step. Knowing whether your feet have a tendency to over- or underpronate will help you incorporate an appropriate foot mobility exercise programme as well as decide on the type of trainers you should be running with to promote an efficient shock absorption and maintain appropriate foot and ankle joint stabilisation.
Balance metric is another essential parameter to pay close attention to as it informs the runner of any asymmetries within the body and can often predict if one side works harder than the other.
Often, imbalances lead to injuries, so it is worth addressing it in training and technique workouts.
Q. How much should you increase your running mileage per week?
A. Runners should always build up weekly distance gradually, ideally following a structured training plan that allows the progression but also builds in lighter weeks to allow the body to recover. Since every runner is different in how much distance they cover per week as well as how intense their running sessions are, it is impossible to provide with a one-size-fits-all recommendation on what a safe increase in weekly mileage is. To give runners the most adequate and personalised recommendation, NURVV offers a training load metric which is a balance between a runner’s recent training distance (captured in the last 7 days) and their typical training distance over the course of the last 28 days. Training Load can be used to keep the progression of running distance of anindividual to a reasonable level, by guiding them to the correct balance between increasing fitness (without falling into over-training mode) and staying in the optimal training zone.
Q. Why metrics from the foot can tell us more about our running than a watch?
A. It matters what the legs and feet are doing, not what the wrist is doing, therefore, the main benefit of using devices that capture running data from the foot is that it can provide very specific and in-depth information about an individual’s foot-based running mechanics. Wearables that capture data from the foot are more sensitive in recognising the start of each step and identifying the exact footstrike pattern for each landing, accounting for changes in increased pace and variations in the course. Foot based devices will also provide more accurate data for cadence, step length and pronation giving the runner detailed information about different aspects of technique and where to improve, rather than just summarise overall performance outcomes.
Another benefit of getting metrics from devices located on the foot is the increased accuracy in pace and distance, which is due to a fusion of top-line GPS data with an advanced inertial navigation system (INS). These devices benefit from accuracy improvements under most conditions but suffer if they fall back on phone-based GPS traces to show route coverage. Watches highly and purely rely on GNSS (GPS) technology, that is known for its limited accuracy in some environments.
Q. What are the main causes of running injuries?
A. There are three main reasons behind running injuries:
- Overuse (directly associated with overtraining),
- Training errors and poor running technique, as well as
- Poorly fitted running footwear.
If a runner is constantly overtraining, this will expose them to repeated bouts of high load, which over time, might contribute to development of running-related injuries and tissue damage. Certain training errors and ‘bad’ habits, such as constantly overstriding or running with cadence that’s outside the optimal range. Doing so might soon also result in abnormal stresses in certain muscles which simply can’t deal with that amount of load and lead to developing compensatory mechanisms.
Wearing inappropriate footwear might also play a role in the development of injuries – several different types of running shoes are available on the market and should be fitted on an individual basis to ‘support’ natural running gait and ensure appropriate foot and lower limb biomechanics.
Q. What are the main signs of overtraining as a runner?
A. There are a number of different signs and symptoms that have been associated with overreaching and overtraining. Some of the more common signs would be tired and sore muscles, general feelings of fatigue, nagging injuries, sleep disturbance, irritability, and depression. Runners covering very high miles also need to be wary of the “RED-S” (Relative Energy Deficiency in Sport) phenomenon, which arises if there is an imbalance between energy expenditure and intake and can affect various physiological systems and psychological health.
Q. What is a good example of strong running health and how can you achieve this?
A. Running Health feature provides you with an indication of how healthy and sustainable your running technique and training is and comprises four different elements of technique – Training Load, Cadence, Pronation, and Balance. In order to achieve and maintain a strong running health, a runner needs to ensure that most, if not all of their running metrics are found to be within optimal ranges. Often, certain running aspects will require more improvements than others. Therefore, it is useful to try and tackle each of these metrics separately, by engaging in metric – specific running workouts as well as exercise programmes aimed for improving muscular strength associated with that aspect of your running.
Q. How common is overpronation and underpronation in runners?
A. Mild overpronation and underpronation is relatively common amongst runners and is often seen in one, not necessarily both feet and doesn’t require any specific action, especially if a runner is not injured. Most of the time, the body is ‘smart’ and efficient enough to deal with abnormalities in motion and develop alternative ways of movement without resulting in injuries. However, high levels of both over- and underpronation might need to be addressed, especially when an individual experiences pain on the inside or outside part of the lower leg when running.
Q. Why and how to modify your footstrike?
A. The most common reason for modifying footstrike pattern is injury management/prevention.
Physiotherapists and podiatrist often recommend a change in footstrike (for example from rearfoot to mid- or forefoot) to shift the load from ‘damaged’ tissue to another part of the body to help manage pain and offload injured muscles. That way, the runner can still engage in training without having to go through prolonged periods of rest!
The easiest way to adopt a new footstrike is to incorporate it through a structured workout, ideally in the style of an interval session. In those short sessions, runners should run with their normal footstrike pattern for a few minutes and then transition to the footstrike they would like to transition to for the next few minutes. The idea is to then alternate between the two styles until they cover total workout distance. It might be useful to use foot-based wearables to ensure that the appropriate part of the foot lands first to increase the success rate of adopted footstrike efforts.
Q. Effect of different footwear on injury risk?
A. Foot flexibility and its motion is highly specific between individuals; therefore, purchasing footwear that ensures appropriate movement of the foot inside the shoes can help to minimise running-related injury risks. Wearing shoes that haven’t been properly fitted and do not support a runner’s natural gait might result in abnormalities in foot and ankle movement and lead to future injuries, especially those that occur due to overuse. You can use NURVV to identify the exact movement of both feet inside the shoes, ensure that your current running shoes facilitate optimal levels of pronation and allow you to maintain an appropriate balance between the two body sides (this can be monitored via our Running Health feature).
Q. How can a runner aim to develop their pace?
A. The theory behind developing pace is relatively straightforward – in order to run faster, a runner must have high leg turnover and cover greater distance with each step ( Speed = Cadence x Step length ).
It might, however, sound easier than it actually is! To improve pace, the runner needs to know what their optimal cadence and step length values are and make every effort in trying to stay within optimal ranges during the whole run.
The best way to work on your pace is by incorporating separate speed focus workouts into your running routine – these should be intense but short, allowing you to focus on both of these metrics for long enough but not completely throw you off your natural running style.
Q. What are some benefits of treadmill running?
A. When on a treadmill, runners are fully in control of the external environment and therefore are more likely to meet their technique improvements and performance goals. It is also ‘easier’ to implement certain workouts, such as Intervals, as these can be pre-set on the treadmill. There is also less variability in running pace as the treadmill belt moves constantly at a given speed.
Treadmill platforms are also generally ‘softer’, so when compared to road running, the runner’s body is exposed to lower impact and braking forces. Therefore, runners who have just come back from a lower leg injury (especially foot and knee – related) or are currently going through rehabilitation, are often encouraged to start getting back on their feet running on a treadmill.
Thanks to the NURVV RUN Team for involving us in the launch. It’s a very interesting product.
Watch out for the top training tips from Adelle Tracey coming soon.