Back to the Future: Running in 2040

Back to Basics

Joni Mitchell's 1970 hit "Woodstock" spoke of getting back to the basics and losing "the smog." Much like the hippies of the '60s wanted to escape the corporate grind, runners of Generation 3.0 will look to leave their technology behind in a return to basics. As we continue to become better educated about what makes athletes tick, running on feel and listening to our bodies has become exponentially more important. The year 2040 will see athletes timing and tracking less and training purely on feel.

Real-Time Physiological Feedback

While watching the Tour de France in 2015, I was struck by the video feed of a Swiss Team and their support crew watching from a nearby van. The support team was able to follow each cyclist and monitor their physiological feedback, from heart rate and core temperature to related fluid loss. Paradoxically, while many will return to "non-feedback" basics, real-time technology will undoubtedly work its way into the world of distance running in the coming generation.

2040 will see a return to dominance for American marathoners.

Individual-Specific Running Footwear and Apparel 

3-D printing and pour-based moulding will change running apparel and footwear for the better. One of a kind designs for clothing and footwear will become the norm, with running brands and specialty stores catering to the needs of each individual athlete.

Virtual Races & Treadmill Gyms

We've seen the next generation of treadmills, complete with interactive screens capable of replicating the topography (as well as sights and sounds) of virtually any major road race in the world. This technology is beginning to experience mass production for use in gym formats, much the same way spin classes evolved in the '80s and '90s. As we move further into a virtual world, the running community will as well. 


Finally, 2040 will see a return to dominance for American marathoners. Depth in American professional distance running has exploded in events like the half marathon and 1,500 meters. Sweeping success at marathon distance, however, has remained elusive. But more top level American athletes are once again turning to the marathon earlier than ever, as they did years ago. As a result, look for the red, white and blue to find its way to the medal podium on a consistent basis. 

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