The new STRYD power meter is now good to go. Don’t like chest straps? No problems, the new version from STRYD is a footpod-based alternative to the earlier chest strap model which was known as the STRYD PIONEER.
Running Power, is it all nonsense?
No. Most probably not nonsense.
I’m not yet a full running power convert but I do now record running power with most run-workouts that I perform and it did help me get a hilly-HM PB/PR earlier this year…
Beyond that, my personal experience is that it has not been quite as useful to have running power as it has been to have cycling power. But running power IS useful for me for pacing endurance runs, especially over varied or undulating terrain.
The single, most useful, technical element that STRYD delivered was a Garmin CIQ data field that displayed POWER on a Garmin watch AND THEN also allowed that power to be written to the FIT file. I suspect many of you, me included, are simply not interested in running with a smartphone or using yet another suite of a new vendor’s analysis tools. For new products in general, we just want something super-simple to operate, that seamlessly integrates into ‘how we currently do things’.
STRYD DOES THAT. RIGHT NOW.
Well at least for Garmin it does; but let’s not forget Polar too. Polar recently updated the firmware on their V800 to properly natively support STRYD, perhaps giving Polar the edge when it comes to STRYD compatibility? Suunto are not too far behind. Indeed as of April 2017, I’ve mostly switched to Suunto SPARTANs for running and when STRYD is connected as a power pod, the STRYD super-easily integrates with Suunto’s native support of running with power but there are a few featurettes at the edge of Suunto’s offering that need slightly improving.
There’s also the ability with STRYD to leave the smartphone at home and cache data on the pod; then do some fancy analysis later on the STRYD web platform, we’ll come back to that.
Does it REALLY measure POWER in WATTS? To be honest I’ve no idea but STRYD claim it does! For most of us that’s not too important. Whatever it measures, it DOES seem to be a good and consistent proxy for form-related effort and that is good enough for me.
What Do You Get?
Have a look at this short slideshow then I will briefly cover what comes in the box.
Both the charger and the STRYD are unusual-looking to say the least. STRYD comes with two shoe-lace clips and a USB charging unit from which it charges WIRELESSLY when placed at the centre of the charger. Whilst the aesthetics of the design might not be to everyone’s liking, that is mostly irrelevant as it is on your running shoe, not your wrist.
Pairing by ANT+ to your Garmin or by Bluetooth SMART to the app on your smartphone is generally straightforward.
- Pairing to Suunto SPARTAN is ONLY as a POWER POD.
- Pairing to Polar V800 is as a power meter
- Pairing to anything else eg Ambit 3 or 920XT should be as a footpod.
There’s a whole world outside of Garmin’s CIQ-enabled sports watches. Let’s look at that:
Is your existing sports watch supported? This link will tell you.
Broadly speaking for newer Garmins you pair as a footpod. With AMBITs you pair as POWERPOD and use in RUN mode (and it works GREAT).With SPARTANs, only pair as a POWERPOD for now (March 2017).
With Polar you just pair as “other device” and you are good to go.
If you are investing £/$200 in a running power meter I would suggest you also invest in a watch that properly supports power ie it will DISPLAY and RECORD power.
OK, “installation” is a fancy way of saying ‘stick it on your shoe like you would do any old footpod’. That’s precisely what you do. In the above slideshow you can see how I put it on my shoes; that works.
Precise shoe positioning appears not to be important. I have changed between shoes and not noticed any differences in readings based on different stack heights/cushioning and between different lace positions. I still seem to get consistent results.
Moving to the other foot will give different results depending on the degree of asymmetry to your running gait.
I often use elasticated laces which tend to be too thick for the space available on a Garmin footpod. The STRYD pod handles this perfectly and allows 2, 3 or 4 lace lengths to be spanned. Try and span as many as sensibly possible. The STRYD attaches into its cradle VERY firmly, more so than a Garmin footpod; and certainly feels like it won’t come out. Indeed it takes an effort to remove it for charging.
If you don’t use thicker laces then you may well find the device moves a bit. Try packing out the space. I’ve seen a velcro-based solution on the STRYD forum!
After recharging be REALLY sure that the STRYD is correctly re-inserted into the prongs on the cradle. Otherwise you will lose it ;-(
Preparing to Run
For first-time usage ensure that your weight and height are set in the STRYD SMARTPHONE APP and synchronised to the STRYD pod.
If, like me, you have the new and the old STRYD device you will see they have the same name (STRYD) but a different ANT ID. Where possible, it makes sense to rename the new one to STRYD-FOOTPOD, or similar, on both the STRYD app and your sports watch. Only one device appears to be able to be paired to your STRYD smartphone app.
From the STRYD app, you might also want to optionally check that STRYD is set to cache data on the pod as you run. This enables another route for you to get data sent through to the STRYD power centre dashboard AND for analysing some of the cleverer metrics which will might not find their way into your 3rd party sports data platform.
If you have a more recent Garmin (check compatibility here) then use Garmin Express to download STRYD from CIQ . The Stryd IQ app, shown in the following slideshow, displays power and a few other metrics chosen by the STRYD team – that’s the quickest way to get started. However I would recommend instead to get the ‘STRYD Power’ data field which you then manually configure to show in one of your Garmin’s pages as a single data field. Note that you configure the averaging performed by the ‘STRYD Power’ data field in Garmin Express (yes!). As also shown on the slideshow below; here you determine what ‘STRYD Power’ will show to you be it ‘Real Time Power’ or one of several longer average power durations. I mostly use Real Time Power but there are perfectly sensible reasons for wanting to show the longer averages if that is how you choose to pace yourself.
This ‘Stryd Power’ data field ALSO RECORDS THE RAW POWER DATA into the FIT file…PRECISELY what you want it to do.
With Suunto the situation is slightly different and, in some ways, better than with Garmin. A sports profile/sports mode is configured in MOVESCOUNT but as running power is native to Suunto it is possible to display MANY running power averages simultaneously – here is one screen with 7 running power metrics. Just perhaps more than you might ever need. Perhaps.
Running with power with Polar’s V800 is also super-easy. Pair STRYD, configure your running profile/data screen and run.
Running With Power
You can use POWER as a simple metric and base your training just on that. You run your 5k one week at 300w and then you try for 302w next week. That kind of thing. Neither a scientific nor overly fruitful approach; but if you went from one flat parkrun 5k course to another muddy and hilly one the next week, you may well appreciate the advantage of pacing by your 5k-power level more than your running buddy who is pacing off HR or PACE.
You can also get a new kind of PB/PR. A 5K average power PB 🙂 Even though you might be slower on a different course.
Most people would want a more rigorous approach based on different levels of power/durations that the body can bear and that cause the body different physiological adaptations. If you are familiar with training by HR zones, then power zones are a broadly similar approach. A discussion of running with power is beyond the scope of this review. There are books written on this subject and the best known is: J Vance (2016).
Indeed Jim Vance has allowed me to re-produce some of the book (here), where he lists 14 great reasons for using a running power meter.
Simplistically, Zone2 power might be for your 75 minute endurance run and Zone5 power might be for your 5 minute, or shorter, intervals. Knowing your Zone 5 power could be quite handy for hills reps couldn’t it? What pace do you run up hills at? All hills at the same pace?
If you pace by Heart Rate then how do you pace short 1 minute interval reps? Tricky. It will take your heart quite a while to get into the zone that properly reflects your effort. It will take STRYD about 3 seconds…just saying.
But somehow you have to have a starting point to work out your zones. Typically that starting point is your maximum performance at around one hour which can be estimated from a shorter effort.
- Pace Zones – there are various online running calculators. You enter your recent 5k or marathon PB, or other standard distance PB, and they work out your projected race times and various paces for various types of training eg Daniels Tables v3: click to open (original source: electricblues.com/html/runpro.html)
- Heart Rate Zones – essentially these are either based on a lab test, which few of you will be able to afford to do sufficiently regularly, or on a flat-out 30 minute test to estimate your lactate threshold heart rate (or similar).
- RPE Zones – rates of perceived effort, these zones have their value too in training and racing.
- Power Zones – cyclists with power meters will know all about FTP and CPs. For running power it will be the same sort of thing, essentially you use fairly short tests to estimate your hour power. STRYD discuss some of the detail and the PRECISE test protocol at <this> link. You can spend a LOT of time reading various pros and cons of different testing protocols that essentially all end up with a similar-enough answer to be actionable.
- This is the recommended STRYD test: “5-800m-5-1200m-30-2400m-10” ie 5 minutes warmup, 800m easy, 5minutes further warmup, 1200m @near-max, 30 minutes very easy jog recovery, 2400m @max, 10 minutes cooldown. You enter the results in your STRYD dashboard to get your zones. Sorted.
Here’s what I did, which is probably scientifically flawed, but it’s what I did warts and all (with STRYD v1). Cunningly it includes near-Critical Power efforts over various durations…what do I know?
- Over a period of several weeks I recorded all running power data including reps, 5k, 10 mile and HM near-PB efforts.
- I looked at a CP power plot in Golden Cheetah (>=v3.4, it’s free & awesome, ) which told me their automatic calculation of my FTP and CP as well as the power zones. STRYD’s Powercenter accepts a manual FTP entry and/or Golden Cheetah also calculates your powerzones daily, if needed. Voila! Correct zones.
Personally I use power as a further guide to pace >60 minute efforts for training and racing. For example, I might try to maintain my CP for a specific long race duration. I will probably venture into using it for much shorter and harder hill reps. You could quite easily use it for most of your training.
As I have become more familiar with what power levels feel like then I have started to sometimes use them as a ‘sense check’. For example you have just started a lap and the current pace on your Garmin is ONCE AGAIN all over the place…you will find the STRYD power to be more accurate depending on which moving average you are displaying.
You will have captured your data either on your sports watch and/or on your smartphone. With the later models of Garmin and Suunto, your data is automatically sent to Garmin Connect or Movescount.
If you’ve captured data on your smartphone it will sync to STRYD Powercenter when it’s able to.
Alternatively, you can link Suunto Movescount and Garmin Connect (GC) directly to the STRYD Powercenter.
STRYD have done the right thing enabling these flows of data. Although you would probably not use their Powercenter that much if you already use Movescount or GC; all of your STRYD data will, for example, be in GC as the following clickable image shows.
You might be more enticed to visit Powercenter as STRYD introduce new training insights and power training programs, which will never appear in Movescount or GC.
Powercenter also sync’s to Training Peaks and STRAVA.
Of course you can link Movescount and GC directly to STRAVA/TP and you can import the FIT/TCX files from Suunto/Garmin directly into SportsTracks or Golden Cheetah. There’s LOTS of options now for linking data platforms. You’ll have to check if all the new metrics go with the links on a case-by-case basis
At the moment (June 2017) Polar allow the correct display of running power data in FLOW. But if you want to export it anywhere else then you can do that manually by creating a TCX file which IS properly improted into Golden Cheetah and SportTracks. Polar FLOW has automatic links to STRAVA and TRAINING PEAKS but I have not checked if the power data is automatically sent there, I think for STRAVA it will not show (doesn’t with manual import).
If you intend to train by power you should at some point familiarise yourself with a CP curve, like the following example image shows. Once you get your head around logarithmic time scales and power durations rather than pace or speed it WILL make sense and WILL be useful for many exciting evenings alone in front of your computer 🙂
For the cyclists: one thing I have personally found with my running CP curve is that there is much less variation from the highs that I can achieve to lows of my CP over 60/90 minutes. Mainly because cycling supports your bodyweight. Thus running power zones are much narrower.
STRYD have also introduced CP curves to their PowerCentre platform online. PowerCenter has some REALLY nice features but is a little temperamental at times and often on Internet Explorer. As shown below their CP curve is MUCH more colourful and also includes a heat map of all your efforts.
Running Up a Hill
Kate Bush could certainly run up that hill but how well can you and I do it in practice?
Let’s run up a hill in stats. On the flat it seemed that 300w was broadly somewhere close to 3:50/km. so I endeavoured to maintain 300w for the near flat at the bottom to the flat at the top. If you were running DOWN this hill it’s one of those where you have to let go, it’s shortish and steepish. If you were going up it on an otherwise flat run it would rank as ‘short but unpleasant’. It was about 2 and a half minutes long and gaining 30 vertical metres.
The change (drop) in speed required to hold 300w was considerable. From somewhere around 4:00/km at the start the hardest part had me going at 6:00/km. OK I was trying to focus on a watch and run and maintain effort so the numbers bounced about a bit but you can see that the orange power line is vaguely flat varying from 300w+/-15w (5% or so).
I would say 4 things about this
- This is broadly indicative of the sort of thing Stryd can tell you ie you should probably be running a LOT slower up hills if you want to maintain a constant effort
- As with cycling what I have noticed is that people can regulate efforts WITHOUT A POWER METER quite well for half of the hill or so. But, with the end in sight, people often tend to up the effort even more (when they are already going faster than they should). typically they make it to the top before you and then grin. they’re grinning because they beat you but they have taken a lot out of yourself. In a hilly race you WILL catch people like this of a similar ability after a few hills. YOU tend to power smoothly over the apex and keep the same effort going.
- You can use HR for this but, with a 30 second or so, lag it’s not quite as effective.
- Running by RPE/feel works if you are ‘at one with yourself’. Typically we aren’t! and, as pointed out on the second point, the competitive urge often kicks in.
I’ve repeated this uphill ‘test’ a few times at slower/faster speeds and also with including HR data but none of them quite yet show the picture I want to paint for you. That’s mostly due to my poor execution or some other ‘technical’ factor.
Special STRYD Running Form Metrics
Many/most casual runners neglect consideration of their running form. One of the points of those long slow miles is to increase your aerobic efficiency BUT also to increase the efficiency of your FORM.
There are probably some relatively quick gains to be made here but also lots of rather elusive ones. Tread carefully.
If you are looking at power for running then maybe you have plateaued and are desperately looking for something that might make you faster. Anything! 🙂
Once your stride length/cadence are in a ‘sensible zone’ then it becomes much less clear which ‘efficiency metric’ is the next best one to look at. Even if you look at the next best metric and it tells you X%, then you are not so sure what to do about it. Normally to improve on X% involves running faster. That “insight” doesn’t really help.
The v1 STRYD PIONEER, like Garmin’s HRM-RUN, looked at the efficiency metrics: vertical oscillation (VO), cadence, and ground contact time (GCT/GT).
The v2 STRYD also looks at the new metrics of Leg Spring Stiffness (LSS) and Form Power (FP) – YES it DOES include VO.
- FP is the power produced by the essence of your form alone, ignoring everything else. Lower is better.
- LSS: Stiffer muscles/tendons require less energy to move you forwards. Higher is better.
The metrics probably don’t tell you what you are doing wrong and how to improve it, instead they will probably gradually improve over time as you train more.
NB: Plyometrics, strength work, anaerobic intervals including VO2max intervals are all likely to help improve your form over time.
It is possible to attempt to change your form slightly whilst running at a constant pace. If your power DROPS and the pace is the same then, in theory, you might have found a way to increase your running form efficiency. It might be worth experimenting but I am not entirely convinced by that argument
Interesting Tidbits and other comments
Here are some points to consider.
- STRYD claim to have an accurate measurement of stride-length/distance (and hence speed/pace). I’m going to look more at this but there is potential here for a FANTASTIC way to get better ‘instant pace’. Super cool. (Edit April 2017: SUPER accurate running pace from STRYD has now been independently verified by other reviewers – it’s the best, basically)
- Averages are taken over 5 steps or about 10 seconds
- No calibration is required. With auto-calibration FOR PACE ENABLED and always being used as a source of pace, for me the auto-calibration factor was a seemingly impressive 100.5 on a Garmin.
- As of April 2017 pod calibration has just been introduced on SPARTANs.
- As of Jun 2017 manual (and automatic) pod calibration is possible with Polar’s V800. I’ve only used automatic.
- You can calibrate for pace through the STRYD app on your smartphone. I would suggest calibrating in ideal conditions for GPS reception.
- There might be an issue (Nov 2016) with the rolling average pace rolling over to an inactive period of up to 30 seconds following an active period (Source: STRYD).
- Unlike Dynastream/Garmin footpods, shoe type/stack/drop or running speed do not seem to affect calibration that much, if at all.
- Footpod devotees might want to look at fellrnr’s footpod calibration tool but I do not think that calibration makes much difference at all.
- You can now use STRYD in a triathlon alongside your HRM-TRI and bike power meter which respectively record all the lovely HR stuff for swimming and cycling power when cycling. Previously wearing a STRYD chest strap somewhat limited your data gathering potential; for example, the recording of HR whilst swimming was not really possible as the STRYD chest strap was not sufficiently waterproof
- STRYD works well on treadmill. Why shouldn’t it? Although I have used one of the unpowered ‘curve’ trainers and the power readings there seem too low.
- The wireless charger is nice as there are no batteries or holes on the STRYD to let water seep in through.
- The LED blinks twice for a new connection or disconnection. A faster blink means ‘charge it now’ or more precisely:
- Low battery: The LED will double blink every second. Place the device on the charger.
- Bluetooth Connections: The LED will double-blink when (did-)connected to/from. This does not apply to ANT+.
- Power-on: When placing a fully discharged unit on the charger, it will power-on and there will be five short blinks in quick succession during the power on sequence.
- If you don’t like chest straps then the new STRYD is a great option. Perhaps you use a optical HRM on your wrist for the same reason?
- STRYD report their footpod device to better reflect real power levels compared to the chest strap STRYD when measured in their labs. Anecdotally I agree as do other reviewers/runners elsewhere on the net.
- STRYD handles thick elasticated laces, unlike other footpods. Looping through 3 or 4 lengths is recommended
- Internally it is known as the STRYD SUMMIT – now you know.
- All the data metrics are broadcast over both ANT+ and Bluetooth SMART channels.
- When running UPHILL you will find that you have to run a LOT slower than you would imagine to maintain a constant effort.
- Many of the metrics are the same or similar to other devices (HRM-RUN and Runscribe). I could see no point in comparing these to each other. Will you compare them? Probably not in most cases. You’ll probably just use one set of the form metrics to track improvement over time…or use none at all 🙂
- The unit weighs less than 10g and is fully rechargeable giving 20-30 hours of running time. It leaves battery saving modes when running is detected – as opposed to general movement in your bag in the back of the car.
- It’s sufficiently waterproof for normal running. Perhaps running in a knee-deep stream for 30 minutes might be pushing the limits. (Officially 30 minutes at 1m)
- It has approximately 9-10 hours of storage on the device. That’s irrelevant if you are using a sports watch and sufficient if you frequently sync with the app.
- STRYD uses proximity pairing on their app. When pairing with the app the first thing in the list should be the closest. Handy for cheating at Bluetooth hide-and-seek. (Indeed I lost my OURA ring recently and used the STRYD app to find it!)
- The new and old power readings MIGHT be comparable, especially if you calibrated the v1 PIONEER device. I didn’t do the calibration and get a sense that the new footpod readings are lower for me.
- Moving STRYD from shoe-to-shoe is mildly inconvenient. That’s why I have 3x Garmin footpods. 3x STRYDs would be a considerable investment, especially if/when STRYD move to dual-sided power.
- To me STRYD seems to slightly underestimate power when running downhill.
- The charging light goes off when STRYD is fully charged and sitting on the charger but I am not always sure if the device is properly placed on the charger. Is it charged or not?
- Some users cite dropouts when worn on an opposite foot to the watch eg left foot and right wrist. I didn’t find that.
- At present only one STRYD device can be paired to the STRYD app (this will obviously change if/when dual-sided power is introduced).
- AMBIT Tip: Get pace and distance from STRYD and set GPS accuracy to the lowest level (as it will be overridden by STRYD). That will extend your battery life.
- Calibration Tip: Don’t bother trying to configure it on your watch! Just set your weight correctly on the app and sync that through to STRYD.
- Moving from the chest strap to the footpod seems to have different power ranges to me with the foodpod appearing lower. That makes the changeover a little annoying but is irrelevant longerterm unless you had planned to use both in rotation – that’s not going to work.
- Whilst the STRYD pod is a good size, the charger is definitely on the big side.
- The STRYD v1 unit is no longer sold but stock exists to service issues with existing users.
- Battery life is about 15 hours (officially 20) which is good for most running needs except those of ULTRA runners. It seems to re-charge quickly, although I’ve never timed it. Charging ‘on-the-run’ is not really possible – I could imagine some solution involving carrying some insulation tape, the STRYD recharger and a USB battery stick but few of you will endeavour to put that into practice.
- The wireless charger does away with the need for a potentially unreliable micro USB port whilst also making waterproofing STRYD seemingly easy for the designers.
- The most likely development is dual-sided power and all the duplicate/aggregate versions of the existing metrics that would come with that.
- After that perhaps a device to take into account wind.
- Perhaps then also an improved chest strap.
- Maybe something else too 😉 [My bet is this option]
These would all be 2018 or beyond.
- Competitor.com have good look at a 2:16:00 marathoner’s race power.
- RECOMMENDED: STRYD’s own White Paper about their new metrics is a good sports-science based read for those of you looking at they type of training you need to do to improve.
- STRYD’s Critical Power Test
There is no realistic alternative to the power functionality of STRYD. There are alternatives for looking at your run form including Runscribe PRO, LUMO Body, Garmin’s HRM-RUN, Kinematix TUNE, SHFT,Runteq’s ZOI and others. Indeed SHFT (reviewed here) also produces power but only in the context of their app and their ‘power’ values differ from what STRYD produces. I suspect we will see alternatives as 2017 moves into 2018.
As at 26May 2017 I would note the following:
- There are issues with the Garmin Fenix 5 and Fenix 5s (just those two models NOT the 935 and not the 5X). the issue seems to be that the Fenix 5 and 5S are not quite able enough to pick up some ANT+ signals including those of STRYD and, I think, STAGES too.
- SportTracks desktop does not seem to like importing power from a Garmin Fit files from directly on the watch. Even the OMB FIT importer doesn’t do it. The workaround to get running power data into SportTracks 3.1 (Desktop) is to export a FIT file from STRYD’s power centre. That then imports correctly into SportTracks. (Fit File Repair Tool would also likely sort it out if you don’t want to use PowerCentre).
Summary & Further Comments
It’s a highly functional device that pretty much works as it should. It wears well, it fits seamlessly into how many of us currently work with sports data and the data is both consistent and actionable.
It’s unusual-looking but that’s not important. STRYD’s Powercenter is nice but a bit clunky; again, not important if you are going to use the STRYD with Garmin Connect, Movescount, Training Peaks, Golden Cheetah or other 3rd party platforms.
- The Garmin environment is good-to-go with STRYD providing you get a CIQ-enabled watch.
- Polar’s environment is good to go with the V800. TBC if this support will pass to their other running watches.
- Suunto’s later AMBITs are good-to-go.
- Suunto need to sort out the SPARTANs properly pairing with STRYD v2 compatibility but are otherwise good-to-go as a single data-source sensor. ie as of April 2017 STRYD does NOT work as BOTH a source of speed, cadence and power…just one of those.
- Running with the STRYD app to get data to STRYD Powercenter is also perfectly sensible for those of you who carry smartphones
Running with power has hopefully reached a critical mass and there is a broad acceptance from that mass of runners/coaches on how to train for running with power zones.
Tentatively, the new STRYD seems to also give actionably-accurate instant pace figures. Other reviewers now say the same.
STRYDs new form-metrics look compelling but the truth behind how compelling they are will be in the ability of committed runners to understand them and use them to improve form.
It’s a relatively expensive accessory but certainly a useful addition for a dedicated runner especially, in my opinion, for those who already accept a power metric (triathletes) or for those endurance runners who feel the need to gain a competitive edge on non-flat ground.
Is it worth updating your watch to this year’s model to get 5 new features that you won’t use OR is it best to get new and more accurate data that might provide additional benefits above what you currently have? ie Don’t upgrade your watch…buy a STRYD!
For what it’s worth: I use it. I like it.
Price, Availability & Discount Code
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