For the past several years, watches, trackers and phone apps have allowed runners to keep track of their pace, distance, time and heart rate. Now, running shoes have emerged that seek to provide “built-in” sensing of biomechanics with companion apps that provide views of the data plus coaching.
Altra Running Torin IQ, $220
Weights: 9.3 oz. (men), 7.4 oz. (women)
Heel-to-Toe Offset: 0mm; 28mm (heel), 28mm (forefoot)
The Torin IQ is based on Altra’s best-selling Torin shoe, but adds a sophisticated biomechanics sensing and coaching system. Embedded in the midsole of each shoe are three razor thin G-force sensors, accelerometers and capture pods that feed data in real time to the Altra IQ app. The pods have replaceable coin batteries that Altra says should last up for to 400 miles at 10-minute pace. The Torin IQ is an outstanding, beautifully crafted daily trainer but given its cost runners may want to use it more occasionally as a tool to establish and keep good form habits, especially during uptempo and speed runs where form can go south. The system continuously measures and transmits landing zone, cadence, impact rate and ground contact time for both feet to your phone, which must be with you as you run. Perching your phone or a tablet on a treadmill is the ideal way to get real time visual indication of landing zone locations and all the metrics. The audio form coaching tips tend to emphasize upper body and arm carriage, as research has shown that getting this right improves cadence, reduces ground contact time and leads to softer landings with less over-striding. For example, you could hear: “It looks like you are over-striding. To fix this, try popping your elbows back and don’t let them extend forward past your hips.” You can choose to receive general running tips or get more reactive form correction coaching based on the sensor data.
Under Armour Speedform Gemini 3 RE, $160
Weights: 9.9 oz. (men), 8.3 oz. (women)
Heel-to-Toe Offset: 8mm; 27mm (heel), 19mm (forefoot)
While the Torin IQ is a sophisticated form coaching system, the Gemini 3 RE keeps things simple. A single sensor pod is embedded in the right shoe. The battery is not replaceable and is designed to last the life of the shoe. The Gemini works in conjunction with UA’s MapMyRun app for data storage and sharing, and if you run with your phone, it’ll additionally give you cadence. You don’t need to run with your phone for the shoe to record what we found are accurate distances and paces vs. high-end GPS watches. That makes this shoe great for treadmill running, or city running where buildings can interfere with GPS signals. There is no way yet to pause or auto pause a run when without a phone. The shoe will detect you have stopped for good after 3 minutes of easy walking or standing around. An unusual feature of the Gemini 3 RE system is its Jump Test: six vertical jumps done in rapid succession. It assesses muscle fatigue and recovery pre-workout. The app then advises an appropriate intensity for your run. We found it a useful complement to heart rate and sleep-based recovery scores, which don’t directly consider potential muscle fatigue. The Gemini itself is a superb daily trainer with a softer, energetic ride from its Charged Cushioning midsole and a supportive and comfortable upper. UA also offers the 8-ounce Record-Equipped Velociti performance trainer/racer ($140), and the 10.4-ounce Europa RE stability trainer ($160).