Train smart, run faster

Henkel steps up the game of smart sports tracking for the upcoming marathon season

Industrial Adhesives Culture Future Culture Feb 11, 2019

Aiming to participate at this year’s marathon in Düsseldorf, Germany, on April 28, 16 runners, among them six employees from Henkel’s Adhesive Technologies business unit, are in the midst of preparation. All of them are equipped with smart technologies developed by a team from the business unit’s electronics business in cooperation with several partners.

Two technologies are at the center of this challenge, aiming to enable the safest, most efficient and personalized way of preparing: A smart health patch serves to continuously measure the electrocardiogram of the heart during training, resting and race in order to personalize the runners’ training schedule. In addition to that, a smart shoe insole, which tracks the step length and stability, for example, will optimize the runners’ techniques and prevent injuries.

Smart health patch

The smart health patch consists of a disposable part, a sticker that is adhered to the skin on the chest, and a re-usable part, a sensor dot that clicks into the sticker magnetically. The smart solution is developed in collaboration with Byteflies, a Belgian wearable health company with core competences in health wearable technology and data management.

The sensor dot enables the measurement and storage of vital body parameters for 24 hours, after which the dot must be put on a docking station to recharge and transmit the data. The runners will therefore be provided with two sensor dots for continuous measuring. On a weekly basis, each runner receives a summary of the monitored vital signs to continuously personalize the training and achieve optimum results.

Smart shoe insoles

This solution was developed by Arion, a Dutch wearable health company, and consists, besides the smart insole itself, of a measuring device called footpod as well as a smartphone application. The insoles serve to measure the interaction between the runners’ feet and the ground, whereas the footpod measures the general movement to give a complete picture of the running technique. The gathered data can be reviewed in the Arion App in real time.

Each runner will be equipped with a pair of smart shoe insoles that track every step the runner takes and transforms the information in advices on how to improve the running technique and gain efficiency.

And how does Henkel come into play in these tracking tools? With a set of electrode materials, conductive inks, protective coatings and skin grade adhesives. The partnership with Byteflies and Arion thus enables the manufacturing of smart technologies for optimal tracking.

Interview with project participant Stijn Gillissen

Stijn Gillissen, who is responsible for the global market segment of Medical Electronics at Henkel and is one of the runners in the project, shares some insights into his marathon preparation leading up to the Düsseldorf marathon in April 2019.

Stijn Gillissen, Global Market Segment Manager Medical Electronics, Henkel

Stijn Gillissen, Global Market Segment Manager Medical Electronics at Henkel

Stijn, you’re taking on the marathon challenge yourself. Are you an experienced runner?

I do run regularly, but this will be my first marathon. Previously, I have only gone as far as a half marathon. I want to push myself to do a full marathon at least once and this is the perfect opportunity as preparation for it will be the best and most scientific possible, using these new techniques.

How do you prepare yourself within the 15 weeks leading up to the marathon and what are the advantages of the new equipment?

I prepare by following a personalized training schedule that is based on my heart rate. This requires exercising four to five times a week during these 15 weeks, leading up to the marathon. My heart is not only monitored when I run, but 24/7, using the health patch. First of all, this provides me with a degree of safety, as my heart is permanently monitored, and possible medical issues will be flagged. In addition to the safety aspect, the health patch provides very useful data on my body recuperation, general fitness level and so forth, so that training can be even more effective, and progress is higher. Secondly, the smart insoles give me advise on my running technique and help me to improve in this aspect by a real-time coaching app during training. This will reduce the chance of getting injuries and further improve progress by optimizing running technique.

What do you personally expect from your participation in the race?

Thanks to the extensive preparation, I do expect that I can cross the finish line on April 28th after 42 long kilometers.

Update after the Düsseldorf Marathon:

Curious how it went? Watch the video!

Henkel marathon in Dusseldorf (1) - Thumbnail