In this episode of the Art and Science of Running Podcast, we speak with elite ultramarathoner, artist & scientist, Geoffrey Burns, about his research at the University of Michigan in kinesiology & biomechanics, specifically with regard to foot strike, cadence, and running form. In addition to discussions about Geoff’s research, we spoke with him about his proposal to regulate running footwear innovation and his rationales behind his proposals. This led us to discussions about his role as a professional athlete and a scientist navigating the sometimes conflicting realms of sponsorship, authenticity, objectivity, and professionalism.
Geoff grew up running in Southern California before walking-on to the cross country and track teams at the University of Michigan where he ran for the legendary Coach Ron Warhurst. Geoff is passionate about the sport of running and has competed at the highest levels winning national ultrarunning championships and placing as high as 5th at the world 100K championships. But Geoff is more than a great runner. He takes his writing and science seriously.
Academic and Professional Background
Geoff studied biomedical engineering at the University of Michigan and received bachelor’s and master’s degrees before working professionally as an engineer in medical devices and orthopedic surgery research. After some time in the professional sector, Geoff returned to the University of Michigan to pursue a PhD in kinesiology and biomechanics. At the time of the recording, Geoff was months away from defending his thesis.
Cadence and Changing Foot Strike Patterns
One of the many topics we discussed with Geoff is the trend toward trying to change one’s foot strike or cadence. Regarding cadence and step rate, Geoff explained,
“It’s a barometer and not a governor. There’s no magical number that’s dogmatically right for everybody.” Geoff Burns reflecting on the commonly held belief that there is a “magic” number of steps per minute
Read these articles for additional insight on foot strike and cadence.
What are the Benefits and Risks Associated with Changing Foot Strike Pattern During Running? A Systematic Review and Meta-analysis of Injury, Running Economy, and Biomechanics
The Perfect Stride: Can Alberto Salazar straighten out American dist...