4 key running metrics to help you run faster in 2022

4 key running metrics to help you run faster in 2022

INCUS | NOVA provides you with a wealth of running metrics and data insights to help you run faster and become more efficient, but to get the most from this advanced, high-end wearable you need to understand what the data is showing you and how to apply it. We take a deeper look at INCUS running metrics.

Why tracking your running metrics matters?

Whether you are a complete beginner or experienced runner having insightful, accurate data at your finger-tips will help you develop your speed and endurance by spotting the areas in your technique and fitness you can work on and by tracking your progress. How do you know if you are running well? It’s a good question. You can use your speed – how fast you are running; heart rate to see how hard your body is working or ‘feel’ your own intuition for how tough you find the session. But whilst these are all useful they have their limitations. If you really want to improve it’s time to level-up the data you are looking at.

What running pace and heart rate don’t tell you

Say you go out for a run one night and you manage a nice consistent 8-minute mile pace, but the next night on a different route you can only manage 9-minute miles. What does it mean? Has your running really deteriorated that quickly? Of course not. Pace doesn’t take into account how hilly a route is, wind-direction or the surface under foot. You could be working just as hard but still going slower. Heart rate is slow to respond and influenced by many things. For instance, if you are doing speed work or interval training you may have noticed that your heart takes time to respond to the increase in pace. Heart rate can also be affected by stress, illness or heat so it is not an entirely reliable way of assessing how you have performed in a training session. Similarly, your perceived effort - how hard you think you are running- can be influenced by tiredness, the large coffee you had before your run and even the music you are listening to.

4 key running metrics which help you get faster

Using an INCUS|NOVA you are able to get much more feedback on how your body is moving during your run. It will tell you a lot about your running form and technique, revealing the opportunities for improvement. Here are five running metrics you need to be measuring to get the full picture of your performance.

Cadence

Cadence is how many steps you take per minute. A low cadence shows you are taking long strides and a high cadence shorter, more frequent strides. It can tell you a lot about your running especially when combined with other information such as take-off and landing.

Take-Off and Landing

This shows your acceleration as you push-forward and toe-off lifting your foot into the air and your deceleration as you land and your foot strikes the floor. Sometimes you will hear foot-strike or landing described, not altogether correctly, as impact. Excessive landing deceleration is one of the biggest causes of running injuries so this is a metric to really keep an eye on to make yourself a bullet-proof injury free runner. Comparing your left and right can identify imbalances between each side of your body, it’s not unusual for runners to have higher deceleration or 'land more heavily' on one side or another. This can help you identify problems with technique, muscle control or weakness. Keeping an eye on Take-Off and Landing across different types of sessions is also interesting. Many runners land lightly with minimal deceleration when running at a slower pace but their technique deteriorates at faster speeds.

Stride Phase

Stride Phases shows your total stride time and how much of your stride your foot spends on the ground and how much in flight. Your goal for running efficiency is a lower ground contact time and higher flight time at a given pace. Ground contact time decreases with pace and the fastest runners spend the least time in contact with the ground. Training specifically to reduce your ground contact time is an effective way to improve your running.

Run Power

Running power, measured in Watts, is a way to measure the output of the work you’re doing when you run. The higher the Watts, the more power you’re generating with every step. It provides a single, consistent metric to compare performance across different runs, whether you’re running on the flat or uphill. Running power is a more reliable measure of your effort than your running speed or even heart rate.

The more power you can generate at a lower heart rate or faster pace, the more efficient you are. And efficiency is the goal of any runner looking to improve. If you repeat the same session a few weeks apart and you find you’re running at same power but with a lower heart rate, it shows you are running more efficiently.

Heart rate is slow to respond, when you start your run it is generally low, climbs gradually, plateaus for a while and then peaks near the end of longer runs, if your effort is constant throughout a run, running power will reflect that.

Power allows you to maintain an event effort instead of speed throughout your run. If you set out to run at 8-minute miles then the effort you would need to maintain that speed on the flat would be very different to if you were running uphill. If you wanted to maintain 200 watts throughout your run - an even effort - then when you got to the hill you would need to slow down. But the work you’re doing to maintain the even wattage will be the same.

Running power is an excellent tool for pacing your sessions correctly and understanding your training load so you make sure you are stretching your body enough to improve but providing enough rest to recover. Cyclists have had the benefit of power meters for at least a decade but this is a relatively new concept for runners to get their head around!

Whether your goal is to improve your speed or run longer distances understanding running metrics and using those insights to adapt your training plan or work on your technique is a sure-fire way to improve your performance without wasting precious time on ineffective training. With INCUS|NOVA and the INCUS|CLOUD app you can see these key metrics on your phone immediately after your run. With simple to understand graphs and insightful advice on how to improve your running, you can use these tips straight away so you can get better every session.

With the complete INCUS Run Bundle you get everything you need to improve your form and improve your performance with key metrics available on your phone immediately after your run. 

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