Monday, October 3, 2016

A Running Lesson Relearned with the Milestone Pod

Twenty five years ago, I was running a 400 meter interval workout on the track, huffing and puffing through the one-lap intervals at 72-74 seconds. An older man watching me struggle through the work-out walked over and told me, "On this next interval, pretend there're iron bars attached to the insides of your ankles and if you don't lift your foot over them, you'll trip and fall."  Just concentrating on getting my foot over these imaginary bars implanted in my ankles, my next interval felt a lot easier. Looking down at my stop watch, I was shocked to see I completed this lap in 68 seconds. Turns out this stranger had once coached an Olympic hurdler, and this was a mental trick he used to improve knee lift. I never forgot that advice and how important getting good knee lift is to good running form. To this day, I still tell myself "Step over the bar" when I feel myself struggling at the latter stages of a race or workout.

I haven't stumbled upon an Olympic coach since, but in the past year, I started using the Milestone pod, a small accelerometer strapped to my shoe to capture stride metrics like stride length, foot impact, running cadence and ground contact time. It actually captures my running pace through the course and the run and Milestone phone app plots my running pace versus the various captured form metrics.

Graph from the Milestone Pod
App showing pace increasing
with Stride Length
Within minutes after finishing my morning runs, I find myself downloading the data from my Milestone pod to check out out how my run went. Stride length has turned out to be the best predictor of running pace. Stride length is a good function of knee lift and earlier this year when I was battling a hip issue, I could feel myself not getting good knee lift, and could see that problem in the Milestone pod data. Training for the Healdsburg Wine Country Half Marathon has been going well this fall, and the Milestone pod has definitely helped maintain the form I need to help meet my goals for this race at the end of the month.

If this sounds like an endorsement for the Milestone pod, that's because it is.  The Milestone folks approached me last year about testing out their device, and they've have been great to work with, being very patient and understanding with my feedback on the pod. Even if I had paid for both of the pods I've trialed for them, the $25 cost for the pods would amount to a few pennies per run, a bargain for all the great data the pod aqcquires from each run. So yeah, I'm glad to tell others about the Milestone pod because their little gadget has really helped my running and I hope they continue to be successful at it.

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