Relationship Between Running Biomechanics and Core Temperature Across a Competitive Road Race

Sports Health. 2024 Mar 27:19417381241236877. doi: 10.1177/19417381241236877. Online ahead of print.


Background: Outdoor races introduce environmental stressors to runners, and core temperature changes may influence runners' movement patterns. This study assessed changes and determined relationships between sensor-derived running biomechanics and core temperature among runners across an 11.27-km road race.

Hypothesis: Core temperatures would increase significantly across the race, related to changes in spatiotemporal biomechanical measures.

Study design: Cross-sectional cohort study.

Level of evidence: Level 3.

Methods: Twenty runners (9 female, 11 male; age, 48 ± 12 years; height, 169.7 ± 9.1 cm; mass, 71.3 ± 13.4 kg) enrolled in the 2022 Falmouth Road Race were recruited. Participants used lightweight technologies (ingestible thermistors and wearable sensors) to monitor core temperature and running biomechanics throughout the race. Timestamps were used to align sensor-derived measures for 7 race segments. Observations were labeled as core temperatures generally within normal limits (<38°C) or at elevated core temperatures (≥38°C). Multivariate repeated measures analyses of variance were used to assess changes in sensor-derived measures across the race, with Bonferroni post hoc comparisons for significant findings. Pearson's r correlations were used to assess the relationship between running biomechanics and core temperature measures.

Results: Eighteen participants developed hyperthermic core temperatures (39.0°C ± 0.5°C); core temperatures increased significantly across the race (P < 0.01). Kinetic measures obtained from the accelerometers, including shock, impact, and braking g, all significantly increased across the race (P < 0.01); other sensor-derived biomechanical measures did not change significantly. Core temperatures were weakly associated with biomechanics (|r range|, 0.02-0.16).

Conclusion: Core temperatures and kinetics increased significantly across a race, yet these outcomes were not strongly correlated. The observed kinetic changes may have been attributed to fatigue-related influences over the race.

Clinical relevance: Clinicians may not expect changes in biomechanical movement patterns to signal thermal responses during outdoor running in a singular event.

Keywords: environmental stress; ingestible thermistor; loading; performance; weather.