Ultrarunner & Physical Therapist Recommends the Milestone Pod for Runners!
Jackie Palmer Merritt, 29, of Atlanta, GA, is a kick-ass ultra-runner, Pod-lover and Milestone Sports athlete. Jackie is also a PhD, physical therapist and biomechanist – a perfect match for a running brand focused on gait and form. She finished 7th female in 2017 Western States 100 Mile Endurance Run and took home silver in the Transrockies 2017. We asked her how the pod improved her running and she had great information to share with us.

The Q&A with Jackie can also be found on our "Word with the Bird" podcast. - LISTEN HERE -

Jackie wears the Milestone Sports milestone pod on her Peregrines during her runs, so our first questions are "how are they? and what about them makes them great?" If you're looking to purchase an affordable activity tracker to improve your own running... read on!


Q: How are the Peregrines treating you on the trails, Jackie? 

A: I did retire my Western States Peregrines, because I had to go through like 20 different stream and river crossings, and they were exposed to baking in hundred degrees heat in the canyons, so one of the Saucony reps told me "you better not wear those again just to be sure..."

Q: What do you love most about the Peregrines? And you have the 7s correct? The most recent ones? 

A: Yeah, I actually run in the 6s and the 7s. I like different things about each one. For the Western States I actually ran in the Peregrine 6. I found that the 6s drain a little better. The 7 has waterproof vex on the upper and that's great when you're running on wet surfaces, but when you're fully submerging your ankles in the water, you really need something that isn't waterproof but drains better, kind of like the 6. So I did wear that iteration for Western and they were really perfect. The 6 is also a little bit more responsive, which I like for faster racing efforts, and racing on a little less technical and rocky terrain... and then I ran in the Peregrine 7 for the Georgia Death Race. I really like the heel cup and the extra cushion in the sole was great for that particular race.

check out the saucony peregrines - browse now - 

Q: So what about the pod? Did you have one milestone pod for all of these races, and did it survive? 

A: Yeah I wore my pod in all of the races you listed and it survived! It's waterproof, so it will survive complete submersion, you know, water, mud, whatever. And it has the ability to collect and store up to 20 hours of data in between syncs, so yeah it survived, it collected all the data and I'm still using the same pod from even from Western States! And I even switch it between shoes.

Q: As someone with extensive knowledge of biomechanics, how does the milestone pod aid your running? Which, I know that you do a LOT of... 

A: I use the pod for all my races and training essentially, and I really love it. I like being a part of a biomechanics laboratory for my dissertation work as a Ph.D. student and now at Emery University doing research here. I have access to biomechanical data analysis in treadmill labs, which a lot of people don't, but I'm fortunate that I can get that information. There are certain movement patterns that are associated with running-related injuries, and I have gotten my own analysis before. BUT, what I like about the pod, is it's a device that you can actually see how you're running outside in your community, where you're actually running, and you can see over time how your gait and your movement patterns change when you get tired. That's the kind of insight that biomechanical data analysis on a treadmill in a laboratory setting CAN'T tell you. And so, training with the pod has just been really awesome, because it's really valuable as a runner to see, for example, how my impact forces change when I get tired. On a 10-mile tempo run, for example, I start feeling tired at maybe mile 7 or so, and later in the data, I can actually see my impact force is increased at that point in time where I start to tire. In my training, I try and be really cognizant of that and I've gotten accustomed to feeling when those changes in my mechanics occur, so I can be proactive at implementing techniques to help prevent them. So that's how I use the pod in my training and how I see the data could be valuable both for me and for others runners to prevent injury.

Q: How long have you been using the pod? 

A: I've probably been using it for about two years now. They had an older model I was using and then they came out with their newest model last summer, which is really great because you can easily clip and transfer between shoes if you choose to do that.

Q: What are some of your words of advice for new users? Do you have any? 

A: Yeah! A good place to start, especially since you're interested in this stuff or maybe you have a chronic injury that you're trying to prevent from occurring or something, you can start by going to the Milestone website- I've written a few blog posts myself. Leg swing? What does it mean? Why should I care? Those are some of the questions you can find answers to on the website. We try and break it down in easy-to-read summaries.

Q: So why should you care about some of the data? 

A: Well, we know that some of the data that the pod provides feedback on is related to running-related injuries. So, for example, rate of impact, we know is related to bone and stress fractures, so it'd be good to see if you have a high rate of impact. Or maybe, rate of impact becomes high at certain points or certain types of runs, you can address that before you get the stress fracture, because no one likes to be sidelined for two months from an injury like that. So that's why it's really important. And other metrics, like leg swing, provide some information about how you might be using your hip extensor muscles and your glute muscles, for example, while you're running And we know that metrics like that are associated with your running efficiency: how much energy you're using as you run a certain speed. So if you can improve your leg swing, improve efficiency, now it's easier for you to run at a faster pace, and so that can even help you get faster and improve your performances on your runs and races.

Q: You mentioned 'rate of impact,' what is that in lamens terms? 

A: It's essentially the load that your body sees while you're running. How stacked you're loading your lower limbs up the kinetic chain and the rest of your body. If you are loading that with high forces and really quickly, that puts a lot more stress on the connective tissues and bones in your body. A lot of that over time can break down your body's connective tissues and bones and lead to injury.

Q: Your own runficiency score in the last 40 miles of the Western States was a 91 out of 100. The global average is a 73/100. 

A: Yeah, not bad after 80 miles, right? haha

Q: How can someone get there? Improve their runficiency? Looking at the data they receive? 

A: I think looking at the data is a good place to start. You can see areas where you need improvement. If you know things that go into the runficiency score (ground contact time, step length, leg swing...) then you can see where you can improve and a lot of my training efforts, I mean obviously I do running and running workouts and running specific things, but I also do a lot of other things that help me improve areas that I need to work on. I do running drills, like sliders to improve ground contact time. I also do some hip extensor strengthening and hip flexor stretching to improve my range of motion and leg swing and help my hip extensors to get in a better position to improve those metrics.

Q: Is the milestone pod a "must-have" or a good place to start a journey for any type of runner? 

A: Yeah, I think it's great for any type of runner. I think that the important thing might not be how much data we can get on these runs, I mean we'll get a ton of data, but if you cant do anything with it or it doesn't help you in any way, more data isn't necessarily better. But I think that the data the milestone pod provides can just be really important and really valuable for people trying to stay healthy with their training and also improving different aspects of their running efficiency. And again, I mean, injuries and running performances, there's so many factors that go into them, and biomechanics is just one of those factors. and now with these affordable devices and tech devices, it's a really unique opportunity for people to get some insight. Even people who don't want to invest in a GPS device, they can get some of that same information from the pod.

Q: And even at $24.95, it's a steal for what you can get. 

A: Definitely. Even after you retire a pair of shoes, you can transfer it to the next pair of shoes.

see how the milestone pod can improve your running for only $24.95 - shop now -