Measuring impact-related quantities in running is of interest to improve the running technique. Many quantities are typically measured in a controlled laboratory setting, even though most runners run in uncontrolled outdoor environments. While monitoring running mechanics in an uncontrolled environment, a decrease in speed or stride frequency can mask fatigue-related changes in running mechanics. Hence, this study aimed to quantify and correct the subject-specific effects of running speed and stride frequency on changes in impact-related running mechanics during a fatiguing outdoor run. Seven runners ran a competitive marathon while peak tibial acceleration and knee angles were measured with inertial measurement units. Running speed was measured through sports watches. Median values over segments of 25 strides throughout the marathon were computed and used to create subject-specific multiple linear regression models. These models predicted peak tibial acceleration, knee angles at initial contact, and maximum stance phase knee flexion based on running speed and stride frequency. Data were corrected for individual speed and stride frequency effects during the marathon. The speed and stride frequency corrected and uncorrected data were divided into ten stages to investigate the effect of marathon stage on mechanical quantities. This study showed that running speed and stride frequency explained, on average, 20%–30% of the variance in peak tibial acceleration, knee angles at initial contact, and maximum stance phase knee angles while running in an uncontrolled setting. Regression coefficients for speed and stride frequency varied strongly between subjects. Speed and stride frequency corrected peak tibial acceleration, and maximum stance phase knee flexion increased throughout the marathon. At the same time, uncorrected maximum stance phase knee angles showed no significant differences between marathon stages due to a decrease in running speed. Hence, subject-specific effects of changes in speed and stride frequency influence the interpretation of running mechanics and are relevant when monitoring, or comparing the gait pattern between runs in uncontrolled environments.
- Inertial measurement unit