Nav: Home

Treadmill running with heavier shoes tied to slower race times

October 28, 2016

It makes sense that running with heavier shoes on will cause you to exert more energy than running with lighter shoes. That was proven several decades ago.

But does using more energy while running with heavier shoes translate into slower running times? That's also a yes, say University of Colorado Boulder researchers from the Department of Integrative Physiology, who designed a clever study to show that running times slow when running shoe weight is increased, even if only by a few ounces.

For the study, the researchers brought 18 runners into CU Boulder's Locomotion Laboratory directed by Professor Rodger Kram, a study co-author. To measure running economy, each participant ran on a treadmill using three pairs of nearly identical shoes, with subtle differences.

Unbeknownst to the runners, the researchers added small lead pellets inside the tongues of two of the three pairs of shoes to be used by each runner. While one pair was normal, each shoe of another pair was made 100 grams heavier and a third pair was loaded with 300 grams of lead pellets per shoe. For comparison, an apple or deck of cards is about 100 grams, or 3.5 ounces.

Each of the runners - all sub-20-minute 5K performers -- ran treadmill tests in which oxygen consumption and carbon dioxide production were measured with all three differently weighted shoe pairs. The treadmill tests compared well with previous treadmill evaluations showing energy costs of the runners rose by about 1 percent with each extra 100 grams of shoe weight.

Later, the runners ran 3,000-meter (about 2 mile) time trials on a CU Boulder indoor track in each of the three shoe pairs once a week for three weeks. Unaware of the differences in shoe weight (the researchers insisted on putting on and taking off the shoes for the test subjects), the runners ran roughly 1 percent slower for each 100 grams of lead added to the shoes in the 3,000-meter race.

"For me, both as a runner and as a scientist, the most interesting part of this study is that our data show that changes we can reliably measure in the lab translate to similar changes in running performance," said CU Boulder postdoctoral researcher Wouter Hoogkamer, who led the study.

"Our results indicate that to evaluate the effects of equipment or technique changes, athletes don't need to run several races at maximum intensity -- we can predict performance based on just a few five-minute bouts of less than maximum running effort in the lab on a treadmill," Hoogkamer said.

A paper on the subject was published online in the journal Medicine & Science in Sports & Exercise, the flagship journal of the American College of Sports Medicine. Other co-authors include CU Boulder graduate student Shalaya Kipp (a former CU Boulder All-American and Olympian in the steeplechase) and Barry Spiering of the Nike Sport Research Lab. Nike Inc. funded the study and Kram is a paid consultant for Nike.

"In exercise physiology class, I learned the classic theory that oxygen delivery determines endurance performance," said Kipp. "It's cool to be able to show that the theory actually holds true in the lab and on the track."

One interesting implication, said the researchers, is that elite marathon runners wearing shoes 100 grams lighter than normal could potentially run about 57 seconds faster. The current men's world record is 2:02:57 set by Dennis Kimetto of Kenya in 2014 while wearing shoes that weighed about 230 grams -- just over eight ounces.

However, when shoe mass is reduced, by compromising cushioning for example, it doesn't mean you will run faster, said Hoogkamer. Prior studies in Kram's lab have shown that proper cushioning also reduces the energetic cost of running. So when selecting footwear, be aware of this trade-off between shoe mass and cushioning.

"Lighter is not always better," said Hoogkamer.

University of Colorado at Boulder

Related Sports Medicine Articles:

NUS Medicine researchers can reprogramme cells to original state for regenerative medicine
Scientists from NUS Medicine have found a way to induce totipotency in embryonic cells that have already matured into pluripotency.
Play sports for a healthier brain
There have been many headlines in recent years about the potentially negative impacts contact sports can have on athletes' brains.
Researchers say elite-level video gaming requires new protocols in sports medicine
Study authors note multiple health issues including blurred vision from excessive screen time, neck and back pain from poor posture, carpal tunnel syndrome from repetitive motion, metabolic dysregulation from prolonged sitting and high consumption of caffeine and sugar, and depression and anxiety resulting from internet gaming disorder.
Sticking to sports can help kids adjust
By participating in organized physical activity from the age of 6, children will have less risk of emotional difficulties by the time they're 12, a new Canadian study finds.
Can recreational sports really make you a better student?
A new Michigan State University study adds to growing evidence that participating in recreational sports not only can help improve grades while attending college, but it also can help students return for another year.
How team sports change a child's brain
Adult depression has long been associated with shrinkage of the hippocampus, a brain region that plays an important role in memory and response to stress.
Study reveals complementary medicine use remains hidden to conventional medicine providers
Research reveals that 1 in 3 complementary medicine (CM) users do not disclose their CM use to their medical providers, posing significant direct and indirect risks of adverse effects and harm due to unsafe concurrent use of CM and conventional medicine use.
How is big data impacting sports analytics?
Sports in all its forms, from Major League Baseball to Fantasy Football is driven by and produces huge amounts of data, and advanced data mining and machine learning techniques are now having a major impact on sports data analytics.
Study of traditional medicine finds high use in Sub-Saharan Africa despite modern medicine
Researchers who have undertaken the first systematic review of into the use of traditional, complementary and alternative medicines (TCAM) in Sub-Saharan Africa found its use is significant and not just because of a lack of resources or access to 'conventional medicine'.
The science of team sports
Joint successes in the past increase the chances of winning.
More Sports Medicine News and Sports Medicine Current Events

Trending Science News

Current Coronavirus (COVID-19) News

Top Science Podcasts

We have hand picked the top science podcasts of 2020.
Now Playing: TED Radio Hour

Climate Mindset
In the past few months, human beings have come together to fight a global threat. This hour, TED speakers explore how our response can be the catalyst to fight another global crisis: climate change. Guests include political strategist Tom Rivett-Carnac, diplomat Christiana Figueres, climate justice activist Xiye Bastida, and writer, illustrator, and artist Oliver Jeffers.
Now Playing: Science for the People

#562 Superbug to Bedside
By now we're all good and scared about antibiotic resistance, one of the many things coming to get us all. But there's good news, sort of. News antibiotics are coming out! How do they get tested? What does that kind of a trial look like and how does it happen? Host Bethany Brookeshire talks with Matt McCarthy, author of "Superbugs: The Race to Stop an Epidemic", about the ins and outs of testing a new antibiotic in the hospital.
Now Playing: Radiolab

Speedy Beet
There are few musical moments more well-worn than the first four notes of Beethoven's Fifth Symphony. But in this short, we find out that Beethoven might have made a last-ditch effort to keep his music from ever feeling familiar, to keep pushing his listeners to a kind of psychological limit. Big thanks to our Brooklyn Philharmonic musicians: Deborah Buck and Suzy Perelman on violin, Arash Amini on cello, and Ah Ling Neu on viola. And check out The First Four Notes, Matthew Guerrieri's book on Beethoven's Fifth. Support Radiolab today at