At its best, athletics is about sporting dramas. When leading athletes push their bodies to the limits it can create national heroes and inspire new generations of sports enthusiasts. But behind the stellar sporting performances there is also a lively arena of fascinating science and technology. In this series of videos for Physics World we will take you on a scientific tour of three of the most fundamental and iconic sports: running, cycling and swimming.

This short film focuses on running, as Physics World journalist James Dacey visits the city of Sheffield in the north of England. He takes a jog around Don Valley stadium with sports engineer Steve Haake who talks about how footwear and athletics tracks have evolved over the years to assist runners in their strides towards new world records. Dacey also visits the Centre for Sports Engineering Research (CSER) at Sheffield Hallam University to observe an elite athlete undertake a physiology test designed to gauge his fitness levels.

You can also watch our films about cycling and swimming. And for a limited period you can download a free copy of the July issue of Physics World, a special edition that looks at the physics of sport. It includes features on the physical principles underpinning athletics, and the roles technology plays in enabling and enhancing sporting performance.