Dr Derek’s Running Equations

It often surprises me how my mind seems to end up in strange places when I am running. I suppose if it is an often occurring event, the element of surprise should have diminished over time. However, such an inconvenient fact would have deprived me of a good opening line. And the capacity to be often surprised seems like a nice thing, like walking through rose petals or being sprinkled with fairy dust.

I remember at some point in the Brighton Marathon forgetting how many miles I was supposed to run. I think 24 came to mind, then 28 – which caused a degree of panic. Luckily, a lot of people seemed to be going my way, so I just followed them to the end.

My watch stopped during the Edinburgh marathon when I fell over at around mile 7 and an indeterminate bit, so I had to reset it. It sounds a simple task to add the 7 miles and  the indeterminate bit to the new readings, plus a rough estimate of the time it took to get to that critical 7 mile and an indeterminate bit point, but I found it a constant struggle to do the mental arithmetic. So, as well as running in my usual arrhythmic style, I was running non-arithmetically. I think only another elite runner could understand this kind of cognitive crisis.

Anyway, these experiences have led me to develop an equation to help you better understand your running style. Firstly, let’s identify the key variables (which will be familiar to most runners).

Oscillation – this is a measure of the extent to which you bounce when running. Known as vertical oscillation, it is measured in centimetres per step.
Kilometres – your average weekly running distance (measured in kilometres).
Length – the average length of your running stride (metres).
Effort – the perceived effort you put into each training session (10-point ordinal scale).
Pace – the time it takes to cover 1 mile (or 1 kilometre if you are a metric runner).
Kilocalories – mean number of calories burnt per kilometre.
Non-specifiables – includes  all non-specifiable variables, represented by a random number.

STYLE = ∑{P x L} – 3[O + N/k] ƒ¼ER

This is what I calculated for myself after my latest run on Tuesday. It was supposed to be a recovery run after hurting my ankle on an 8-mile run the previous Tuesday. I tripped over in a pub car park half way round my little course. My ankle was fine, I just had a little cut on my knee. So, I have managed to injure myself on my last three runs. This raises the interesting prospect of getting caught in an infinite regress of recovery runs – running to recover from the previous recovery run. Just another day in the life of an elite runner.

2 thoughts on “Dr Derek’s Running Equations

  1. vertical oscillation… I could never run like that without giving myself a black eye or two! 😉 I really think you should write a book! Tongue-in-cheek, of course — except when you’re running! That could be cause for yet ANOTHER running injury. Don’t know how you’d recover from THAT! ❤


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