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# Lighter shoe makes running easier - an experiment! (Read 1388 times)

I wonder whether anyone is interested in a little experiment I did yesterday in an attempt to quantify the likely benefits of lightweight running shoes compared with a more cushioned training shoe.

I have written the results up in my blog.

http://christofschwiening.blogspot.co.uk/2012/05/quantification-of-reduction-in-effort.html

Feeling the growl again

Similar work also done on a treadmill...

http://well.blogs.nytimes.com/2012/03/21/making-the-case-for-running-shoes/

Update us when you add more data points.  As peer review, when you submit to publish in a journal you should modify Figure 1 to show the full bar so it doesn't overstate the relatively modest difference.

"If you want to be a bad a\$s, then do what a bad a\$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills

Dear Spaniel,

Many thanks!

Yes, there have been a few treadmill studies using different types of shoe - most published in journals that most people can't access! Even here are The University of Cambridge (a small provincial University in the UK) doesn't subscribe to Journal of Strength and Conditioning or the Journal of Sports Sciences! More importantly most people seem to race on roads not on treadmills! :-)

I agree that using a pedestal/offset can exaggerate, in particular when the data range extends all the way down to zero. But, in this case I think it is justified (although we could argue about where the x-axis should go). The scale of heart beats per km does not functionally go to 0 - to do that one would have to either have no heart beat or travel infinitely fast! I can easily calculate the approximate heart beats per km for the current marathon world record holder and use that as the minimum.....By way of analogy, I could plot the average temperature in Kelvin for San Diego and Cambridge (UK) on a scale going down to zero Kelvin (which is your suggestion). And, you would correctly conclude that they are very similar temperatures (at a molecular physical level)! Yet, my experience differs - I think San Diego is much warmer - possibly 10 degrees warmer. We could either pedestal the Kelvin data, or we could use Centigrade - or we could plot Fahrenheit....each has a different offset.......

Greetings,

Christof

So, I have just done the calculation...assuming that a young elite male marathon runner averages 175 beats per minute at the world record pace, that produces a minimum heart beats per km of ~510. I have amended my graph to start at that value so that you can judge the extent to which the shoes are contributing towards my world record attempt! I now need to do some research into genetic manipulation and build a time machine - then I should be in with a chance. Thanks for the suggestion.

xor

Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

The next logical experiment would be to run 1.8% faster with the lighter shoes and compare average heart rates.

Be sure to drink your Ovaltine.

I can't see who's in the lead but it's either Oxford or Cambridge.

The process is the goal.

Men heap together the mistakes of their lives, and create a monster they call Destiny.

The next logical experiment would be to run 1.8% faster with the lighter shoes and compare average heart rates.

Yes, I agree - a very good idea! I tried a variant on that this evening before I read your post. I may have over-cooked the pace a bit. I did four sets each with increasing speed with the idea that I could compare the faster runs in the lighter shoes with the slower runs in the heavier ones. But, I didn't quite anticipate the difficulty of running that fast in this heat! Also, it would have been sensible to have done a proper calculation of my target speeds rather than to have guessed......anyway I will analyse the results tonight and post them later.

I can always repeat it again tomorrow.....now where have a put my tasteless milky drink....

Feeling the growl again

More importantly most people seem to race on roads not on treadmills! :-)

Christof

Ouch, you have been stalking my log, haven't you?

The advantage of the treadmill is condition control.  For example, if you go out and add data points to your experiment it would be meaningless to include data points from different days on the same graph....temp/wind/humidity differences would overwhelm your results' interpretation.

One may not be able to extrapolate treadmill performance straight to road... but if shoes make a difference there is little reason it should not show in both places more or less the same.

Yeah, the scientist in me is picking at your graph.  When I took grad level stats we spent the whole first class on ways that people spin their data...on purpose or by accident.  I fingered your graph because it was a prime example of one of the strategies discussed then.  BTW it looks much better now, I think it is more realistic and I like the way you rationalized where to make the cutoff.

I think I'd give my right arm to be able to run a marathon at a HR of 175....

"If you want to be a bad a\$s, then do what a bad a\$s does.  There's your pep talk for today.  Go Run." -- Slo_Hand

I am spaniel - Crusher of Treadmills

Tiefsa

Do you wear socks?

If you do, take them off.  That would make you lighter too.

Now if you start shaving off body hair, that might be too extreme.

I actually ran without socks whenever I raced in college.  After my first steeplechase, my socks sucked up too much water and made me feel real heavy.  Next steeple I didn't wear socks.  I liked how it felt wearing my track spikes without socks so I stopped wearing socks for races all together.

Do you wear socks?

If you do, take them off.  That would make you lighter too.

Now if you start shaving off body hair, that might be too extreme.

I actually ran without socks whenever I raced in college.  After my first steeplechase, my socks sucked up too much water and made me feel real heavy.  Next steeple I didn't wear socks.  I liked how it felt wearing my track spikes without socks so I stopped wearing socks for races all together.

I agree that socks contribute weight and I run my cross-country races (using spikes) without them. I have not tried a marathon without socks - definitely one to test in training first. Body hair is an interesting one. I *did* shave my beard and cut my hair before a couple of my marathons this year....there is nothing extreme about maximizing ones ability to thermoregulate!

Most of us have body weight that we can afford to lose - and that's probably the best place to start - there's usually much greater scope for shedding pounds of fat than the couple of grams you get from shaving. Of course there will be a few people who are already at pretty much optimum weight.

Incidentally - I understand that the reason cyclists shave their legs is not to do with weight or air resistance - it just makes grazes easier to clean up when they fall (as inevitably happens from time to time in cycle races).

One may not be able to extrapolate treadmill performance straight to road... but if shoes make a difference there is little reason it should not show in both places more or less the same.

Yeah, the scientist in me is picking at your graph.  When I took grad level stats we spent the whole first class on ways that people spin their data...on purpose or by accident.  I fingered your graph because it was a prime example of one of the strategies discussed then.  BTW it looks much better now, I think it is more realistic and I like the way you rationalized where to make the cutoff.

I think I'd give my right arm to be able to run a marathon at a HR of 175....

Agreed, treadmills and labs are great for control - no doubt about that. But, treadmills are a uniformly flat, padded surface with elastic recoil quite unlike most surfaces that I have raced on (the athletics track gets closest, but even that isn't as soft). I think there is good reason to suspect that shoes may well perform differently on treadmills and roads. I do agree that one should see effects on performance of shoe types/weight on both treadmill and road, but the question is whether the theoretical treadmill data holds-up on the road.

I like the picky scientist in you! :-) I didn't put enough thought into where the x-axis should go - odd really since I have criticised others for doing the same. Must try harder, must try harder, must try harder.........

On the experiment I tried last night. It was pretty much of a disaster from the data analysis point of view. I was aware that the temperature was changing a lot as the sun went down - but, I didn't really account for the big variations in pace that I did. My 2 km times were: 8:37, 8:31, 8:21, 7:41 - with an awful lot of pace fluctuations during the runs. I used a wide open space and I think the lack of near objects makes pace hard to judge...I will try again this evening.

Most of us have body weight that we can afford to lose - and that's probably the best place to start - there's usually much greater scope for shedding pounds of fat than the couple of grams you get from shaving. Of course there will be a few people who are already at pretty much optimum weight.

Incidentally - I understand that the reason cyclists shave their legs is not to do with weight or air resistance - it just makes grazes easier to clean up when they fall (as inevitably happens from time to time in cycle races).

Yes, I dropped from 68 kg down to about 60 kg in the space of 8 weeks running up to the London Marathon - mentally tough to do...I will spare you the graph! In the end it was the toilet stop on the Marathon that stopped me getting my goal time....shame to have wasted all that effort on weight loss...

jjameson

I agree that lighter shoes can allow you to run faster (just imagine strapping on 1 pound weights on your ankles and trying a sprint).  On the other hand shoes with more cushioning might mean less pounding stress and fresher legs after 20 miles.  So more cushioning in shoes (ie heavier shoes) might actually allow you to run a long race faster.

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