(recent UPDATE ON KINEMATIX COMPANYs future: please see bottom of this post)
Brace yourself: this may just be the strangest, most unscientific test run ever performed in the history of running...! Here's my 'kind of' running study with the help of TUNE, the new running wearable by Kinematix.
I'M NOT A TECHIE GUY
It is important for me to come clean about this up front, before you plunge deeper into this post and find out for yourself! So, at this point you might be asking "why is this person even using a running wearable"?
Actually, there is a couple of reasons! I'll explain them in the next few lines:
REASON #1: it's birthplace
Product was designed in Porto! This alone should have been a sufficient reason and it certainly sparked to my curiosity about TUNE. I did follow some of KINEMATIX steps even before they launched TUNE into the market. Kinematix is one of many promising companies born out of the vibrant tech ecosystem of Porto, more precisely in UPTEC, an innovation fostering incubator for the best ideas coming from Porto's University.
REASON #2: THE CHALLENGE
Being a running guide, my biggest and most demanding challenge will always be staying fit and injury free... all year long !
Of course this should be a goal for every person on the planet, but it really becomes important if you’re in the running business.
I've been an amateur runner since I began college and that means half my life (ouch, I'm really gettin old...!). It also means I’ve had my share of lesions and visits to physical therapists, something which I now use to my benefit: I learned the hard way that an healthy running routine has to include strength workouts and technique exercises. And that's not just for the legs, it's for the whole body.
While I rely on someone else to prepare my weekly training sessions, I occasionaly try stride or biomechanics tests to check if my form and fitness levels evolved. This is also why I am so interested in the new generation of running wearables and, in particular, why TUNE caught my attention.
Still with me? Let's see how I used it:
ALL GEARED UP
If I was going to talk about the future, I couldn't just leave the younger generation out. That's why I decided to include my 2 year old toddler in the testing process.
So, basic idea of my test: identify differences in stride and other parameters of running dinamics when pushing a stroller!
It took some planning and quite a long checklist before we started the first run:
✔Kid tightly secured in stroller
✔Right pressure on the stroller's tyres
✔Bell and brakes in stroller in good condition
✔TUNE insoles installed in shoes and sensors charged
✔Sensors connected to smartphone via Bluetooth
✔Smartphone's GPS, data connection and TUNE app fully operational
Really felt accomplished just by having it all connected, up and running !
Did I mention yet that I'm not a techie guy?
Here's my fellow scientist-adventurer, seconds before the test...!
Well, it was time to start our 'test'. For this first round I picked a linear, flat section of our seaside tour in Leça da Palmeira.
This first days of January have been blessed with perfect weather and beautiful sunsets...!
Once back home, it was time to check the app and the data it gathered. First thing I've noticed was the 'Heel strike' percentage...!!
TUNE mobile app screenshots
Here I must say: guys at Kinematix really put their heads together and developed a smart product. It allows any runner to monitor running form, with hard data being delivered to the smartphone from the moment one starts running. No matter if you’re trying to improve speed, running economy or prevent lesions, from the TUNE mobile app you get valuable input about your running form and dynamics, helping you adjust your training and make future decisions. It even builds a fitness plan suggestion based on the data it gathers from both feet, individually.
Heel strike, as an example: its percentage is measured throughout a training session and gives you a precise idea of how, for instance, fatigue affects your running form. Also it let’s you perceive, with hard numbers, effects of every new drill or change you may include in your training plan. Cool, right?
Sand just made this first run a bit more challenging:) Post run selfie of our team of scientists!
This time without the stroller & diferent route:
TUNE mobile app screenshots
'study' Results and discussion
As you noticed, test conditions were too different for any valid comparison between runs... I warned you in advance this 'study' was unscientific...! Nevertheless, I risk commenting on the cause of different values for 'heel strike' and 'step lenght' : I will name it the stroller effect :)
Surely I expected that pushing a 3-wheeled vehicle would change dinamics. Although the step lenght increase may merely be a result of running faster, heel strike numbers let us see that the stride was indeed different. It's higher percentage (92/93%) on the first run (vs. 55/53% on round 2) is most probably due to a more upright posture, as I was pushing the stroller. Does it make sense to you?
Surely you or your personal trainer will find better use for TUNE and all the data it is capable of generating while you run. This was just my fun first approach to this new wearable device made in PORTO and obviously not the correct way to use it!
Beginning of 1980s, heart-rate monitors added a new dimension to training, allowing for the advent of workouts based on specific heart-rate zones. These methods have helped runners and other athletes of all levels improve their performance. By the early 2000s, GPS-enabled smartwatches made it easy to monitor pace, distance, elevation and other types of data.
And now, as the modern age of wearable tech unfolds, we witness the rise of new and valuable tools such as TUNE that can give us insights into the factors of a running form and hints on how to improve its dinamics. Even if your focus is just on keeping healthy!
As it turns out, I have some homework to do:
That's it from Porto Running Tours laboratory today. Keep running strong!
#collectmemories #notthings #visitPorto
PS: you can lend the stroller on many of our tours, just mention you'll be bringing your kid along when you book with us!
UPDATE (April 5th, 2017) - We received a somewhat disturbing email from Kinematix with bad news concerning their future existence as a company.
"After successfully launching TUNE into the market in October 2016, Kinematix is now closing its doors due to the lack of funds necessary to pursue its normal activities. Kinematix’s investor has decided not to invest in Kinematix any further other than a final amount aimed to satisfy the company’s previous financial commitments."
Always sad to see such innovative local company suddenly 'fade out'. We wish all the team members of Kinematix, not only the ones we had the pleasure of meeting, all the best in their next projects and professional lives!
Sérgio is the founder of Porto Running Tours, a keen runner since 1999 and a friendly running tour guide-storyteller since 2015.
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