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Smart real-time virtual coaching delivers performance benefits for runners Smart real-time virtual coaching delivers performance benefits for runners
Runners who trained with Under Armour’s real-time Form Coaching feature ran 7% faster and 3% farther than those who didn’t, according to anonymised data... Smart real-time virtual coaching delivers performance benefits for runners

Runners who trained with Under Armour’s real-time Form Coaching feature ran 7% faster and 3% farther than those who didn’t, according to anonymised data from the UA MapMyRun app.

Under Armour has led development in smart sneaker technology in recent years, helping athletes achieve better runs with the HOVR run sneaker suite that connects with the UA MapMyRun app.

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Coaching goes virtual

Last year, the system became even smarter with a real-time Form Coaching feature that provided live feedback and custom advice to runners on how to improve their workouts.

Many questioned whether a virtual coach actually helps runners improve – especially in a time when in-person coaching and group running has been curtailed by COVID-19.

Today, Under Armour can answer that question with a resounding “yes,” and by impressive margins.

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Real-world data

The study used anonymous data from nearly 87,000 Form Coaching users on MapMyRun who completed a minimum of 1.6 km between January 1 and September 25 last year.

Based on the research, Under Armour found that those who engaged the digital coach ran 7% faster and 3% farther* than the average for all runners using the app.

“This new data proves that our approach to research, innovation, and product development works and that we’re heading in the right direction with our new technologies” Jeff Knight, Senior Manager, Digital Product Science at Under Armour.

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The cadence factor

By analysing data from tens of thousands of MapMyRun users, Under Armour found that every runner has a unique cadence target range based on personal attributes like height, weight, and running pace.

Finding the right cadence can unlock improvements for runners by helping them run with as little effort as possible.

“We know from industry research that cadence is closely related to how running feels,” said Knight, who is also a former running coach.

“So, if you can get your cadence right, your running is going to feel a lot easier. And if you can optimize your cadence, then you’ll reduce the amount of impact your body feels when it makes contact with the ground.”

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Real-time form coaching

Data collected from a digital sensor embedded in the midsole of a running shoe and sent via Bluetooth to the MapMyRun app led to the development of Under Armour’s Form Coaching technology, which provides runners with real-time, personalised feedback delivered audibly during a run.

Under Armour developers also collaborated with their US-based professional run coaches — such as Dark Sky Distance’s Coach Shayla Houlihan — when creating Form Coaching’s audible prompts and queues to ensure an authentic coaching experience.

To date, Under Armour athletes have linked more than one million pairs of the brand’s connected shoes to MapMyRun.

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