A few weeks ago I volunteered for a running study being done at KU Medical Center. I had really forgot about signing up until I got the email reminder on Monday. I figured I would be on a treadmill, but I had no idea for how long. I got there, met the staff and then answered some questions. I was measured, height and weight, then hips and knees were measured. I had some flexibility tests done and then it was time to get taped up. Not a normal tape job like I’m used to. They covered all the reflective material on my shoes and shorts with what looked like regular masking tape. Then they taped on what I recognized as motion capture balls. The little reflective balls that you see on the outside of green or black suits that people wear when doing motion capture. After getting taped up with balls, it was time to get on the treadmill. I walked first. I assume this is to get a baseline. Then I ran, I was able to set the treadmill speed at what was comfortable. I put it at 6mph because I wasn’t sure how long I was going to be on it. I’m not a big fan of running on treadmills because I’m so big. When I run on treadmills, the belt slides when I land. It makes running on the treadmill extra interesting because of the extra balancing act that I have to do to prevent slides. Also, when the belt does slide, I have to do extra work to not completely wipe out. Its like running on ice. Well, I made it though without incident. I was only on the treadmill for 6 minutes.
The coolest part was when I was done. I actually got to see the motion capture results. Geeky fitness heaven. It seemed to be processed pretty quickly. I was able to see the video right next to the 3D graphics in real time. I actually got a little video of it too. In the video you can see (barely) the 3d version of my running on the left (black with green) and on the right side, the video of me on the treadmill.
My job gives me a wonderful blend of fitness and geek. Then, without even thinking about it, volunteering for a research study. I was able to get an entirely different geek angle on my fitness. I got some pointers about my running form. And I got a really close look at my running form. Seeing the pictures from my races gave me a little clue, but seeing the video and the 3D version of my form was an entirely different level.
It was a great experience, as an athlete and as a geek.