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Insight's Pace Man app profiled in TechRadar

Insight researchers have launched a revolutionary new app, Pace-Man, which will help marathon runners predict and pace their marathon. The app leverages the peer-reviewed literature on marathon running and massive datasets of marathon race times to act as a personal coach throughout the race and help runners hit their marathon targets.

Pace-Man works by harvesting your work-out details from other fitness apps (including Strava), to identify the characteristics of your training (for instance, your weekly running distance or your average training pace). It then generates a realistic marathon finish timeframe that you can use to plan your race.  During the race, Pace-Man administers audio and haptic (vibration) feedback via your phone to let you know your target pace and when you are going too fast or too slow.

Dr Cailbhe Doherty, who leads the team at Pace-Man outlined the vision for this team, who are based in insight@UCD:

“Our hope is that by providing runners with a personalised pacing strategy, they can improve their race performances and avoid hitting the dreaded wall. Pace-Man devises a pacing strategy for your upcoming marathon, based on your predicted finish time. This pacing strategy is event-specific. For example, if you are running the London Marathon, the pacing strategy that is developed will be designed for that marathon.” 

In recent years the race records for numerous marathon events have become publicly available. This data has enabled the researchers at Pace-Man to examine these races, thus giving new insights into the splits and overall finish times for different race events.   In this way, it is possible to examine how a runner’s pacing strategy influences their end-result.  In conjunction with this, peer-reviewed research in marathon training points to a variety of factors (like your age, gender, training habits and previous race performances) that can be used to predict eventual finish time.  These datasets have been integrated into a single platform via the Pace-Man app.

Through this app, runners can input their personal information, training habits and race results, and receive both an evidence-based prediction for their finish time, and a personal pacing strategy that will help them to complete the marathon in that time.

Doherty outlined the team’s vision for this system: “as researchers, we value high quality, evidence based solutions to real-world problems and that is our aim with Pace-Man. We set out to develop a tool that brings research into practice. We are now in the first stage of testing whether this works and what we need to change.”

The Pace-Man app is now available for download on the iTunes App store. It is available, free of charge. Doherty and his team showcased the app at the iconic London marathon last week.

Following London, they plan to take these systems and apply them to different marathons across the globe. That way, the prediction and pacing strategy you get are specific to the race you want to tackle!

The app was highlighted in TechRadar last week. You can read all about it here.