Over the last several years I’ve been following the development of a sensor-based technology that I thought held great promise for running, but that has had its share of missteps on the long road to market. Pegasus Sports Performance licensed a technology first developed by engineers at the UCLA Wireless Health Institute to analyze the abnormal gait of Parkinson’s and stroke victims, then adapted that technology for performance athletics.
Over the last two years Pegasus has worked with former Mammoth Track Club and now Boston Athletic Association coach Terrence Mahon as well as athletes ranging from the everyday to world class to hone its software and sensor design. Now, in a final beta test before market launch, Pegasus is looking for a group of runners to try out the new design and give their feedback.
If you are interested in being part of this beta test, go to the Pegasus website, www.pegasussp.com where you can take a survey and join up! (more…)
Boston, Ma. — Had a nice sit down with old friend and Nike Oregon Project coach Al Salazar today after hosting the New Balance Indoor Grand Prix press conference at the Lenox Hotel. Al , who grew up in suburban Wayland, Mass., has Galen Rupp racing the one-mile tomorrow, while Bronxville, N.Y. high school sensation Mary Cain will go in the 1000 meters. Both athletes have already had great success this indoor season with Galen taking down two American records — the 5000m (13:01.26) and the two-mile (8:07.41), both at Boston University in January – and Mary knocking down the world junior record in the 1000m January 17th (2:39.25), then barely missing the world junior mark in the mile January 24th at the B.U. Terrier Invitational by 1/100th of a second in 4:24.11.
Galen had originally planned to take a shot at Hicham El Guerrouj’s indoor world mile record of 3:48.45 at B.U. tomorrow as the NBIGP was being run at the Reggie Lewis Center on the campus of Roxbury Community College, but after the two-mile record and 4 X one-mile workout that followed 45 minutes later (4:20, 4:20, 4:16, 4:01!) they thought better of it.
“It came down to realizing that the travel and effort for these record attempts was taking a toll,” Al said. “And doing another one was too close.” (more…)
Ngong, Kenya – The town of Ngong awakens early, well before the sun, as many of its 57,000 residents must commute into Nairobi for work. And with major road reconstruction along Langata Road into the capital advancing at a snail’s pace this summer – workers are replacing the porous roadbed of black cotton soil for the more compact sub-structure of red clay – the morning commute will be more congested than ever through the next several months.
A bustling little town, Ngong is the training home to a number of Kenya’s top distance runners, including marathon world record holder Patrick Makau. Today, we have scheduled to meet Makau and his group at 6:10 a.m. at the Corner Shop, a small convenience store just a few hundred meters down from Ngong Center.
Owned by Pauline Kariuki who, like many such proprietors, lives behind her place of business, the Corner Shop is little more than a hole-in-the-wall selling cigarettes, gum, candy, and other light fare and dry goods. But though tiny, it holds an elevated position as one of the running world’s most unlikely landmarks, serving as the gathering point for the area runners who congregate there each morning for their training.
Situated at an altitude of 1961 meters, 6471 feet, Ngong is lower in altitude than the towns of Eldoret and Iten, some 300+ kilometers to the northwest. But, as 2:07 marathoner Wilfred Kibet Kigen informed me as he waited for his 10 mates to arrive, Ngong is very good for training because it offers the advantage of both high altitude training around Ngong, and lower altitude training down into Maasai land which allows higher quality speed work than at the higher altitudes to the northwest.
Since he was not selected to represent Kenya at the London Olympics, marathon world record holder Patrick Makau’s attention has turned to the fall marathon season. And though no final choice of cities has yet been made, he most likely will not be defending his Berlin title from 2011 where he set his 2:03:38 world mark last September.
As the sun peaks through the low-hanging clouds, Patrick is joined by 2:10 marathoner Eric Nzioki, who, like Makau hails from Machakos; Albanus Kioko, a 63-minute half-marathoner from Kangundo; and junior runner Boniface Kitla, also of Kangundo.
Throughout today’s run, Makau will be wearing a pair of Pegasus Sports Performance sensors on his shoe laces, and an android cell phone tucked in a belt pouch strapped to the small of his back. With this equipment, we will record and transmit data monitoring Patrick’s cadence, rear kick dynamic, ground contact time, and pronation during the course of his 1:30 workout, which will include the warm up and cool down phases. (more…)
Iten, Kenya – When we pulled up to the small ramshackle clump of buildings where today’s run would begin shortly after 6:00 a.m., the first dusty blue trace of the new day was beginning to limn the horizon to the east. Inside our Landcruiser we ferried the three-man Kenyan Olympic marathon team who was beginning their journey to London for their August 12th date with destiny: two-time World Marathon champion Abel Kirui, 2011 London Marathon champion Emmanuel Mutai, and 2012 London winner Wilson Kipsang. The three, along with the women’s Olympic team of Mary Keitany, Edna Kiplagat, and Priscah Jeptoo had taken up residence at the nearby Keiro View Hotel just yesterday for the final training cycle leading to London.
As we spilled out of our vehicle, dozens of athletes were already massed by the side of the lumpy dirt road awaiting their heroes’ arrival. Nearby a cock’s crow rose on the soft morning breeze. Temperatures were chilly enough for jackets and tights and no less than long-sleeve shirts for the 22 kilometer Cattle Dip Loop, as the athletes call this traditional route around Iten, Kenya, the town dubbed “Home of Champions”.
Today’s run would also serve as a field test for a new wireless sensor technology developed at the UCLA Wireless Health Institute that holds the promise of re-ordering the level of sophistication that athletes and coaches can bring to their training. Small accelerometers worn on the laces of each shoe would monitor, record and transmit the stride characteristics of Abel Kirui and Wilson Kipsang throughout their run. With this information in hand they and their coaches will be better able to analyze the small asymmetries in ground contact time, back-kick dynamic, pronation and supination during the varied runs in their training regimen.
As Pegasus Sports Performance CEO Bill Shea, an interventional radiologist by training, outfitted Wilson and Abel with the sensors and the small cell phone which they will wear to transmit the signal to the internet and onto our computers, another group of athletes came coursing by at flank speed, already fully into their morning’s training.
“On any given day 600 athletes will be in training in Iten,” said famed Italian coach Renato Canova, who lives in Iten eight months of the year to monitor his stable of athletes. It is out of this culture of running that the great champions of Kenya have emerged since legendary Kip Keino first put Kenya’s Central Highlands on the map with his Olympic 1500 and steeplechase victories at the 1968 Mexico City and 1972 Munich Olympics.
As the run gets under way, the pace is easy and controlled. Some 120 athletes, 40 from Wilson Kipsang’s training group, fill the narrow red-clay roads, making passing difficult for the few motor vehicles up and out at this hour. (more…)
2012 KTLA LA Marathon coverage featuring Pegasus Sports Performance sensor technology. At the Boston Marathon Dick Hoyt will wear Pegasus sensors as he and son Rick compete in their 30th Boston…A group of runners from Tufts University President’s Marathon Challenge will also be wearing the kit. You can follow the Hoyts and Tufts runners progress next Monday at www.psp-run.comPassword for LA video below is psprun.
Though it is the most basic of all sports, running has always had a pretty high Geek factor, especially among its more serious adherents. Whether it’s in shoe design, the latest moisture-wicking apparel, or the most sophisticated GPS or heart rate monitor, runners are always searching for that Holy Grail that might help get them from point A to point B even faster than before.
Over the years, the Los Angeles Marathon has ushered in a number of technological firsts for the sport. In 1996, LA was the first major U.S. marathon to utilize a field-wide chip timing system. Then in 2009, LA became the first big city 26-miler to fully adopt social media outlets such as Facebook, YouTube, RSS, Flickr and Twitter. Now again in 2012 L.A. will showcase another new technology. But this development, rather than being ancillary to the sport, is focused on directly on it. What’s more, it has the potential to unlock long hidden secret chambers that, once opened, could change the very nature of how runners train, avoid injury, while at the same time illuminate the competition for a television audience in a way never before possible.
This Sunday at the 27thHonda LA Marathon, wireless sensor technology will be utilized to monitor and analyze the stride characteristics of several runners, both elite and local, as they move from the start line at Dodger Stadium 26.2 miles to the finish line in Santa Monica.
Small motion-detecting sensors, weighing less than an ounce each, will be worn atop the shoe laces of the runners. Then, using a smartphone transmission, three distinct characteristics of their strides – Cadence, Ground Contact Time, and Kick Dynamic – will be uploaded to KTLA-TV which will then broadcast those metrics in real time via an on-screen dashboard for analysis and comparison.
“Through this technology, we can identify the changes in a runner’s stride dynamic over the course of the marathon,” explained Bill Kaiser, co-director of the UCLA Wireless Health Institute, and one of the inventors of the technology now licensed by Pegasus Sports Performance.“We can then analyze those changes to evaluate their efficiency as fatigue begins to take its toll, but which might yet be too subtle for the human eye, alone, to pick up.”
Cadence (strides per minute), Ground Contact Time, and Kick Dynamic (called distal leg lift) will be monitored on a continuous basis at a rate of 60-100Hz per second. These metrics will then be shown to the TV audience in real time on a graphic dashboard throughout the race – no different than how NASCAR illustrates the internal workings of their race cars on TV via dashboard displays.
Josh Cox Laces Up
“I’ve trained with the sensors several times, and competed in them once,” said Josh Cox, American 50K record holder who beta tested the sensors at last fall’s Rock `n’ Roll Los Angeles Half Marathon. “The advantages for the athlete are twofold. One, you can analyze the data post-race or post-workout, and fine tune your workouts according to what you’ve learned about your stride mechanics. But it’s a real eye-in-the-sky for the coach, who is able to coordinate and monitor an athlete’s stride characteristics during the workout itself. And while an athlete might have previously given his coach feedback like ‘maybe I went out a little too hard, but I felt okay on that last interval’, now the coach can just look at his smartphone and say, ‘Hey, your heart rate is up, your stride is beginning to change. You’re doing more harm than good. You’re done for the day’.”
Perhaps more impressive is the ability to actually monitor a workout in real-time off site. Say Meb Keflezighi was in Mammoth, California doing a tempo run, but his coach Bob Larsen was back home L.A. Bob could still monitor Meb’s workout in real time via his smartphone or computer as he watches Meb’s heart rate, cadence, ground contact time, kick dynamic, pronation, and supination 300 miles to the north. Then, with an escort alongside in a car or on a bike – as Meb so often has – coach Larsen could communicate his observations and instructions to Meb on the fly. (more…)