AI could soon be used to enhance your run training

AI could soon be used to enhance your run training

Long-distance runners know that endurance is only part of the equation when it comes to training and improving race results.

In fact, long-distance running is a fairly technical and strategic sport in which pace must be optimized for every step. As a result, it’s a sport which is being transformed by technology.

AI applications for runners

“In the coming years, there is enormous potential for technology to improve running results, reduce recovery times, and make the sport more engaging than ever before,” says Frank Diana, Managing Partner & Principal Futurist at Tata Consultancy Services (TCS), the title partner of the London Marathon.

“Rapid advancements such as nanobots and AI-driven ‘digital twins’ will make planning for long-distance races even easier, by using real-time data to monitor everything from heart rate to health conditions using in-body monitoring devices,” he adds .

One day, nanobots – tiny robots the size of a molecule – will be used to monitor any health condition with thermal, optical, chemical or biological markers.

“Data from the nanobots’ sensors will provide real-time information about a runner’s heart rate, oxygen levels, muscle fatigue, and more,” says Diana.

This information could be used to adjust a runner’s training program and provide feedback on how to optimize performance. In the future, nanobots may even get to a point where they can detect a drop in oxygen levels and release more oxygen-carrying molecules into the bloodstream.

The “digital twin”

“Nanobots could collect data over time to create a ‘digital twin’,” says Diana. “This would continually update training programs and optimize performance by monitoring a runner’s form, gait, stride length and more, as well as gathering information on performance in different weather conditions, altitudes, and terrain.”

A digital twin is a virtual representation of a physical object in the real world, such as a machine, a city or a human body. To create one, sensors and data from a real object are analyzed by AI algorithms to recreate a virtual twin that can react to scenarios from the real world. AI then allows the twin to learn alongside the human as it updates from realtime data sources.

“For a runner, a digital twin could be used to continually measure every aspect of their lives, from sleep to diet to training, to injuries and stride efficiency,” says Diana. “The AI ​​will run scenarios to determine the right mix of each and recommend modifications to optimize a runner’s performance.”

It could help prepare and predict training patterns by supplying information like recovery time from workouts and injuries, or measure biomarkers during a race to predict optimal heart rate and oxygen.

How this tech could enhance your training

“One example that is already being developed is a digital heart twin for a marathoner,” he says. “The data comes from a combination of wearable technology such as a smartwatch, and from Magnetic Resonance Imaging (MRI). This real-time digital heart reacts as an athlete’s biomarkers change during a race in the real world.”

In the near-term, sensors in wearables will feed data to a digital twin to measure heart rate, body temperature, hydration, gait, stride length, and so on. “As the technology becomes more widespread and advanced, we are likely to see more use of nanobots with sensors deployed throughout the body to provide the most comprehensive and accurate realtime view,” states Diana.

A digital twin could also prerun a route to identify the optimal pace at each section depending on terrain and predicted weather conditions as well as recommend the optimal hydration and nutrition intake throughout the course.

With wearables becoming more affordable, and AI being available, there are opportunities for everyone to benefit from.

“With the computing power to support it, advanced AI and the developing metaverse can overlay nearly every aspect of the athletic world, providing new experiences for athletes and spectators alike,” says Diana. “In the future, we expect to see as much or even more athletic competition take place in a virtual setting.”

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