Monitor Your Running Form With This Amazing Tool

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I first learned the importance of running form in 2007 when I got Iliotibial Band Syndrome (ITB).  I had never studied running form prior to this.  I had been to a Road Runner Sports and had my gait analyzed so I could get the “right shoe” for me.  However, I still developed ITB while wearing the “right shoes” and it put me out for almost 9 months.

I started studying running injuries and I came across “Chi Running”.  The concepts in that program, along with the book “Born to Run” and eventually the book “Natural Running” by Danny Abshire of Newton Running, changed my running forever.

In 2010 I got certified as a Newton Running Coach and started teaching running form clinics in partnership with my chiropractor.  Together, we saw dozens of athletes recover from injuries and even increase their speed significantly from learning proper running form and changing to shoes that support proper running form instead of hiding form flaws.

There was always one problem though…

We would take people through a 4 hour clinic on how to run properly and we would give them actionable items.  We talked about running cadence and explained how it made a difference, we talked about hip drop and how to strengthen your core to prevent it, we talked about foot strike and how it affected braking and acceleration, and so much more.

The problem was that cadence was about the only action item that could be reliably measured.  Athletes could not reliably know if they had hip drop issues and they couldn’t really tell if they were braking with their foot strike unless they took video or did a sand footprint test.

A few people would take the time to do the sand footprint tests, be diligent about the drills, take a metronome on their runs to work on cadence, and do core work as suggested.  However, some would either not do it or they wouldn’t feel comfortable knowing if they were doing it right.  It felt way too complex for many.

For the last 5+ years I had wondered if there was a better way to help people run well and learn the power of good running form.  I know it works when people do it because I have seen the results.

In fact, just this last year, a long-time client who had ALWAYS had several running form issues finally decided to work hard on it and her easy run pace went from 11:30 to 10:00 min/mile in just a couple of weeks.  She couldn’t believe it.

Now There’s A Way

So, there I am watching the Ironman World Championship live feed from Kona on my computer and an advertisement for a device called Lumo Run comes up.

The ad says the device measures your running form based on 5 pillars of proper form based on sports biomechanics research on distance running done at Loughborough University in the UK.

That got my attention immediately and I went online to learn more.  I was impressed enough with the concepts, based on my experience working with runners, that I ordered one to give it a try.

Below is my experience with the product so far

The 5 Pillars

The infographic below shows the 5 pillars of running form that the Lumo Run focuses on tracking and coaching.

The Hardware

There are essentially two ways to use Lumo Run. Either with the sensor and clip that you can clip to the back of your own clothing, or with their integrated clothing.  I opted for the sensor and clip.

The pod is rechargeable via micro usb (what you find on most android devices) and is also waterproof enough to wash it by accident (although I haven't given that a try....yet).

The pod works best when bluetooth connected to your mobile device with the Lumo Run app but it can also collect data by itself or syncing to the app later.

The Software

The Lumo Run pod connects via bluetooth to the Lumo Run app.

NOTE:The Lumo Run App is only available on iOS 9 or higher (no android yet)

When you first get your Lumo Run and download the app, it will ask you to go for a 10 minute test run.  Just clip the pod to your shorts, turn the app on and run for 10 minutes WITH YOUR MOBILE DEVICE.  If you use headphones, the app will speak to you as you run and let you know how you are doing.

Here is the data it gave me on my 10 min test run:

 

As you can see, the app let's me know that my cadence is low and it gives me an exercise to help me correct that (Line Toe Taps).  It also shows that my braking, bounce, and pelvic rotation are slightly off.

Each of the 5 pillars have exercise recommendations to help you improve.  However, the app focuses only on one at a time to help you improve incrementally.  So, in my case, it focused on cadence first and gave me a drill to improve my foot speed.

More Running

Because I am not an iPhone user, I went for my next few runs without the phone.  I actually used my wife's work phone for the first run and then she was at work for the next few runs.

Eventually, I got a hold of an older iPhone 5 (thanks to a friend that upgraded) and now I have an iPhone I can use for running (which also replaces the ipod nano I was using for music).

So, when I finally had my own iPhone set up with the Lumo Run, I went on a solid 10 mile run to get the full experience of a long run with the Lumo App coaching me along the way.

Here are some screenshots of that run:

 

 

 

As I ran, with my music playing in my earphones, the app would coach me with a focus on cadence (only one focus).  It would slightly lower my music volume when it wanted to give a cue or data and then turn it back up when it was done.  Here are some of the things it would tell me (which are somewhat adjustable):

  • Split time and distance every 0.5 miles (adjustable within app)
  • Negative chime when I would go below 180 spm
  • Positive chime when I would get back to 180 spm after going below
  • Posture cues
  • Coaching cues (usually analogies to help with your form focus such as "Imagine you are running through a puddle and making as little splash as possible to promote quick steps."
  • Reminders to remember how you feel when you are hitting your goals

So, if I went below my cadence goal, it would let me know with a low chime and then it would let me know I was back on track with a high chime.  The posture cues were actually quite useful as well as I found that I was starting to slouch when it would give me the cue.

If you run without your phone, the device will still pick up all 5 data points and your run time but will not have total distance or GPS location data.

Pro

  1. Provides not only data but drills and coaching to correct anything that is outside of the good range.
  2. Covers all of the major running form metrics
  3. Gives newer runners or those that have never studied running form a way to measure their progress toward good form.
  4. Increments improvement recommendations so that changes are made slowly.

Con

  1. Only available for iOS 9 or higher (so you must have an iPhone 5s or newer).  To get around this, I had to go get an old iPhone that someone had upgraded from in order to use the app.  I just use it like an ipod and don't have it hooked to a phone service provider.  So, if you are a droid user, make sure you take this into account.  You will need an iPhone 5s or newer.
  2. It's another device!  If you are already using a Garmin, this is another device to have with you.  However, I would urge you to use this for your running instead of a Garmin since it measures more useful data than the Garmin does for running form and it still captures splits and GPS data.  It also is very small and can be used in addition to the Garmin if you wish.

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