Introducing the Bionic Runner from Run4.
As a keen runner myself, (currently pounding the concrete with 2500-3000km per year), I came across the Bionic Runner from Run4 whilst reading the R4YL (run 4 your life) magazine.
Although I have stayed pretty fit and healthy for most of my life, I am an older runner, completing my first marathon when I was 42. I was only inspired to run my first marathon as a result of a mountain bike accident (I was 37) where I ended up with a very serious lower back injury. Running a marathon was an achievement furthest from my reach, so in my normal stubborn and competitive nature, I thought “I’ll do it!” and I did.
8 years on from that accident, I still manage that back pain daily through balancing and regulating my training mix, core strength focus, physio approved stretching programs and clean healthy eating. My attitude is that I have the balance right because running has little or no effect on my back. Sitting on the flooring playing with my kids, weeding the veggie patch (default keen gardener) or driving an unfamiliar hire car is a different story altogether!
Now seeking that illustrious sub-3 hour marathon time (18 minutes to go), which more than anything else means an increase in training volume and intensity, the thought of getting through my weekly training regime without the risk of injury (or adding to an existing one) is an attractive proposition. As is getting to the start line feeling fast and fit – something the Bionic Runner claims to offer.
So is the Bionic Runner the answer?
Steve Cranitch, the founder of the Bionic Runner highlights that “despite all the innovation and billions of dollars spent on running shoes, injury rates haven’t changed.”
Born out of idea that allowed runners to train without injury and to challenge conventional notions of running training the Bionic Runner allows you to limit the amount of actual running you need to do whilst still allowing you to perform important resistance, over-speed, intervals, threshold, Fartlet and other training techniques on the bike.
“With this non-impact closed kinetic chain, you can say goodbye to awkward foot strikes, say goodbye to strains from over extension and goodbye to impact fatigue.”
During the study and design phases, Steve says they discovered that only a mechanism with 60/40 swing stance phase timing can replicate the feeling and intensity of running. This is why Bionic running feels like running and this sets the Bionic Runner apart from all previous non-impact cross trainers.
“These insights are groundbreaking, and our results have been published in peer-reviewed sports science journals.”
Personally, and being generally fortunate with the Sydney beaches climate, I don’t do much indoor running and I haven’t looked to an elliptical or cross trainer to replace any running that I would normally do outdoors (mainly due to bad weather conditions). For me, I just jump on the treadmill. Maybe I should rethink that too?
The Bionic Runner is currently a project on Kickstarter.com, which is still open for funding (closes 31st December 2014).
Watch this space for more information and an update on production and availability. Cost for the Bionic Runner is estimated to be around AU$800-$1000.
Article written and compiled by Craig Mac.