When I was passing the baton at the Jackson Middle School track in Portland, Oregon, I didn’t give much thought to running terms or proper form. But running becomes complicated once you start racking up the miles. As I’ve started putting on the years (and the pounds), I’ve learned that good form is the key to pain-free distance.
Following forms like the mid-foot strike, where the middle of the foot lands on the ground, and a 180 beat-per-minute cadence have helped me go from periodically painful runs to nearly 6 miles a day. Better form means increased efficiency, less pain, and more time to focus on your favorite podcast. But teaching myself good form had its limits; I was still dealing with some hip and lower back pain after those long runs.
The Nurvv Run became the answer to my undiagnosed running woes. They’re a pair of insoles with embedded pressure and motion sensors that you insert into your running shoes. In the few months I ran with them, they helped me improve my form further, getting rid of the pain and that tight-hipped feeling.
Hitting the Nurvv
The Nurvv Run inserts come in two pieces. There are the insoles that go in each shoe, with a mount that runs out of the shoe, as well as two trackers—oblong-shaped hardware housing the smarts (and the battery) that clip into said mounts.
Getting the trackers off the charger and snapping them to the mounts is a learning experience. They sit securely, which means you have to grip them properly when removing them from the charger or mounts. Do it wrong and the force required might snap the cable. I almost did that a few times.
The fact they are tough to mount is good, considering you’re running hundreds of miles in them. The trackers never feel like they’re going to fall off. Metal clips and velcro keep the mounts affixed in your shoes, but the whole system isn’t so tethered that you can’t move them between several pairs of running shoes with ease.
Nurrv says its replaceable insoles will last through three pairs of running shoes, or about a thousand miles if you’re a tightwad like me. I didn’t see any degradation in my months of testing. They’re IP65 water-resistant too, so you can wear them in the rain and through puddles (just avoid waterlogged shoes).
The battery lasts around five hours, which makes them suitable even for ultra runners, though they’ll need to be charged more often.
A Better Sense
Once the trackers are charged and mounted, pair them to your phone via Nurvv’s app, or press the big button on the side of each sensor. They will quickly start chatting with each other and your phone (the firmware will automatically update too).
The insoles have 16 dime-sized pressure sensors, which send data to the tracker outside each shoe, which in turn sends it to your phone. These sensors are capable of delivering very precise information about foot pressure, strike tempo (cadence), and pronation, or the rotation of your foot when running—they’re literally measuring every step.
Alongside those metrics, the app shows data like distance traveled, duration, pace, splits, elevation, calories, step length, and foot strike. It doesn’t offer specific advice on how to fix a problem you’re having. Instead, it suggests something may be wrong with your form and then provides general information on how to improve it.
For example, after two runs using the app (which also can be integrated with third-party apps like Strava), it suggested I was heel-striking much more than I thought instead of mid-foot striking—a big running no-no. After adjusting this on the following run, the nagging hip pain that has plagued my runs for years disappeared. Hooray, data!
The Nurvv Run even learns how much you’ve been training, and it can help you rerun the same routes with real-time coaching based on pace. In the end, it gives you an overall running health score based on all the information it has collected from your feet. You can track your score to see if it’s improving over time.
To boil it down, this system tells you if it thinks something is wrong with your running form and suggests ways to improve it, but it’s entirely up to you to deal with it. I’m not sure how much more you can expect without a trip to a physical therapist or a doctor’s office.
It’s spendy, coming in at $300, but if you’ve been having weird, seemingly undiagnosable issues with your running, or you’re just trying to take your training to the next level, the Nurvv Run can be an invaluable tool.
As an additional perk, you can integrate the Nurvv Run with a Bluetooth heart rate monitor, which the company says will help give you even more accurate pacing data. The system works with Apple and Garmin smartwatches too, which cover a huge amount of us who run with a watch in tow. If you prefer to bring a phone on your runs, you can simply use the iOS or Android app.
After using them for months and monitoring my data for improvements, I can now say I don’t really need the soles to tell me I’m running with a nice mid-foot strike and no major pronation. That knowledge, and my lack of hip pain, makes them well worth the price. I would have easily paid the same sum for a massage or physical therapy, which may not have solved the problem.
If you’re a more serious runner than I am, all this data will likely be a gold mine. If I was training for a marathon, I would seriously consider pairing the Nurvv Run’s data with individual coaching to eke out my best possible miles. As a way to optimize your running based on data, I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a better tool.