So what is a “smart” running shoe? Can it cook dinner? Tell me how much I weigh? Carry me further, faster? Will they get me home injury free?

All nice thoughts but…No.

A smart running shoe is one that has been equipped with technology, often giving real time feedback on your run. Various shoes will track any number of things: pace, stride, cadence, where you land on your foot, etc.

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smart running shoes_3In our hi-tech age more and more wearables (shoes, clothing and all manner of apps) are popping up on the horizon every time you take a step. The question is, can they enhance your performance?

Yes. I believe a smart shoe or the right app can.

However, simply tracking the data won’t help. It is critical to actually do something with it, and thus it’s important to track data that will help you. Pace is always good to know, as well as distance travelled. You can get both of these with most watches, though it’s nice to have it built into a shoe just in case you forget that watch.

Two data points that will be key to look for in a smart shoe to enhance your performance are cadence and footstrike data, and here’s why:

smart running shoes_21) Cadence

The ideal cadence for a runner is between 170- 180 steps per minute. The slower your cadence, the longer you spend on each leg, thus increasing your chances of injury. As you get tired at the end of a run, cadence tends to slow and stride tends to lengthen.

Ideally, a smart shoe/app would alert you when your cadence slows for too long, either by playing a metronome to get you back in step or simple coaching cues. The body loves rhythm, and if you can teach yours to run at a faster cadence you might just side step and injury or two.

2) Foot strike

There is much debate about footstrike – heel striking vs. ball of the foot vs. a full foot landing. Regardless of where you land, an app/shoe that can provide that information is invaluable.

Heel striking is essentially putting the brakes on with every step, and many people have an uneven gait, favoring one side or the other (hitting one side with more force). Only when you know how you land, can you begin to change it – aiming for more of a full foot landing, and less heel striking.

These are simply two data points to look for that will provide valuable feedback on the run. There is a ton of data that you could collect, but ask yourself the questions: What is going to serve me the most? What am I willing to learn from and dig in to?

Data for data’s sake is no good. Collect it, and do something with it. That said, don’t analyze every run. Get outside and be present in nature every now and then just because.

smart running shoes_4I’d love to know – what data do you collect and why? Feel free to get in touch!

Enjoy every run!

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