Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Volunteer for Running Shoe Development

I received an email from Pedro Rodrigues, a Sports Research Engineer in the New Balance Sports Research Laboratory.  New Balance was launching a new research study looking at the effects of running shoes on lower extremity mechanics.  Pedro asked if I would be interested in serving as a tester.

Absolutely! I have been a committed runner for 25 plus years, have experienced a variety of leg and foot injuries, and have run in numerous brands of running shoes to “improve my speed” and avoid injury.  In fact, I was currently running in New Balance shoes, and my contribution to this study might provide valuable data and help develop new running shoes and technologies. Besides, I could not pass up a chance to take part in a running shoe study by an athletic shoe manufacturer making their shoes in the USA.

I drove to the research lab in Lawrence, MA, and signed confidentiality and injury release forms. Pedro explained the goal of the study was to evaluate how a single component of the running shoe affected the mechanics of my leg.  Therefore, each shoe was essentially identical other than that single factor, allowing the researchers to understand the specific effects of that one factor.  I then ran on a treadmill in ten different pairs of shoes.

Pedro measured my leg and ankle and then place reflective markers in specific anatomic locations.  These reflective markers were then tracked using a motion capture system (Qualisys, Gothenburg, Sweden) as I ran on the treadmill at a constant speed.  This system consisted of 8 cameras, which sent out infrared light that reflected off these markers.  Next, by combining the view of each camera, the motion of my leg could be reconstructed in 3-D (see video), allowing the engineers to calculate joint angles, velocities, etc.  In this particular case they were interested in the position of my ankle when I first struck the ground, the amount I pronated (foot rolling to the inside), the speed I pronate, etc.  They will collect this information on a number of runners and will run statistical analyses to see if the controlled factor had any effect on a runner’s lower body mechanics.

Share with me the excitement of running research. New Balance offered me an opportunity related to my dedication to running. Running is a major part of my lifestyle and I firmly believe running allows me the cardiac endurance and fitness to maintain my outdoor pursuits. Click on the video showing the body marking and reflectors, running on the treadmill, and the 3-D results.

Now, I never have to say, "I wish I had contributed to a New Balance running shoe study. "

Steve’s latest book, Outdoor Enthusiast: Never say, “I wish I had…” is now available both in hard copy (www.outdoorsteve.com/) and in e-Book (Kindle and Nook).

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Outdoor Enthusiast Now Available in E-book format!

For $3.99 you can download Outdoor Enthusiast: Never say, “I wish I had…” from Kindle.com and Nook.com onto your portable e-book reader.

In addition to Amazon’s Kindle (ASIN B004S7EZLQ) and Barnes and Noble's Nook (ISBN 9780615225050), the Outdoor Enthusiast e-book can be downloaded to various e-book readers and smart cell phones:

  • Kindle for Mac
  • Kindle for PC
  • Kindle for iPad/iPhone
  • Kindle for BlackBerry
  • Kindle for Android
  • Kindle for Windows Phone
  • Nook for Android
  • Nook for iPad/iPhone
  • Nook for iPod Touch
  • Nook for Blackberry
  • Nook for PC
  • Nook for Mac

If you notice content issues when reading the book, please send me an email at steve@outdoorsteve.com.  When I update Outdoor Enthusiast, I will notify you to re-load the book.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Winter Wild at Mt Sunapee New Hampshire

Winter in New Hampshire offers exciting opportunities for outdoor enthusiasts. This unique ski area race is called “Winter Wild“ (http://www.winterwild.com/) and was held March 5th at Mt Sunapee Ski Mountain, Newbury, NH (http://www.mountsunapee.com/).

The rules for this four mile snow-covered uphill/downhill race at Mt Sunapee were pretty easy and simple. You cannot leave anything stashed anywhere on the mountain! Whatever you go up with you must return with at the bottom the hill.

The 133 athletes wore a mixture of ski and running equipment. Some donned their alpine skies up the hill, while others backpacked them up. Others wore back country skis or Telemark skis, and either wore them climbing up the hill or backpacked them. Many skiers used climbing "skins" on the bottom of their skis for traction uphill on the icy and snowy slopes. Quite a few wore crampons with hiking boots or running shoes.

My choice was my hiking boots with running crampons.

The Mt Sunapee course is marked on the map in red and follows the clockwise peripheral of the ski area. The course begins at Spruce Lodge and then up Elliot Slope to the access road down where you ascend the Williamson Trail to Stovepipe and up to the Mount Sunapee summit. You descend the Upper Ridge to the Lower Ridge trail returning to the lodge.

Some Winter Wild moments:
• We had a 6:30 am start because to have all the participants off the mountain by the time the Mountain opens at 8 am.
• Half way through the two-mile uphill I felt a cramp coming in my right calf. I slowed to a walk for a few minutes and then continued my run and walk pace.
• As we ascended the 2,726 feet mountain with its three secondary peaks it was foggy and at the peak we had snow. The temperature at the top was in the mid-twenties.

Enjoy my video as you join me in this unique winter event. I never have to say, "I wish I had run the Mt Sunapee Winter Wild race".

My February 27, 2011 post documents my training and equipment/clothing research for this race.