Review: STRYD Footpod, Running Power Meter

stryd footpod power meter review

Contents

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 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 for Garmin, at any rate.

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! For most of us that’s not too important. Whatever it measures, it DOES seem to be a 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.

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It’s an unusual-looking thing. It 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 straightforward.

There’s a whole world outside of Garmin’s CIQ-enabled sports watches. Let’s look at that:

Compatibility

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, a fix is due but some users  report a convoluted process as a workaround – basically it should hopefully be fixed by 2017.

With Polar you have the option to pair as a cycling power meter and create a special cycling sport profile to use for power running but this could mess up your cycling power data history. C’mon Polar. Get with it (They ARE working on it BTW, possibly only for future watches).

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.

Installation

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. Tentatively I would say that you should be able to switch between different shoe types (eg different stack heights/cushioning) and between different lace positions and still 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!

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.

Check you have an appropriate POWER metric on display. You currently NEED to install a power metric onto your Garmin to enable it to be seen whilst running. link to Garmin’s CIQ store brings up a few options and I would recommend the “STRYD POWER” option which installs a data field which you can position on your favourite watch screen. Note: This data field ALSO RECORDS POWER DATA into the FIT file…PRECISELY what you want it to do.

You might also want to 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.

stryd-tfk-discount

Running With Power

There are books written on this subject which I confess to not having read: J Vance (2016) – UK Link, US Link to name the best known.

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. 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.

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?

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). Although cunningly it includes a 60 minute all-out effort, near enough 🙂 :

  • 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 take on my FTP and CP as well as all the zones. STRYD’s Powercenter accepts a manual FTP entry and/or Golden Cheetah also calculates your powerzones daily, if needed.

Personally I use power as a further guide to pace >60 minute efforts for training and racing. For example, I 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.

Post-Run

You can link Suunto Movescount and Garmin Connect (GC) directly to the STRYD Powercenter. So if you are recording power directly onto your sports watch, the data will automatically sync through to STRYD Powercenter once you have sync’d your watch as you normally would with GC/Movescount.

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.

stryd metrics in garmin connect

Clickable

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 to STRAVA/TP directly 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

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 🙂

Golden Cheetah CP Plot Curve Chart

Illustrative Golden Cheetah CP Plot Curve Chart for Bike – Not mine

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. Thus the running power zones are much narrower.

Special STRYD Running Form Metrics

Many/most casual runners neglect consideration of their running 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.

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NB: Plyometrics, strength work, anaerobic intervals including VO2max intervals are all likely to help improve your form over time.

Interesting Tidbits and other comments

Here are some points to consider.

Good points

  • 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.
    • Averages are taken over 5 steps or about 10 seconds
    • No calibration is required. With auto-calibration ON and always being used as a source of pace, for me the auto-calibration factor was a seemingly impressive 100.5
    • 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 .
  • 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 with the STRYD chest strap, the recording of HR whilst swimming was not really possible as it was not sufficiently waterproof
  • STRYD works well on treadmill. Why shouldn’t it?
  • 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’.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • 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. When pairing with the app the first thing in the list should be the closest. Handy for cheating at Bluetooth hide-and-seek.

stryd-tfk-discount

Other points

  • 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 readings are slightly higher 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.
  • The charging light goes off when STRYD is fully charged and 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).
  • Whilst the STRYD pod is a good size, the charger is definitely on the big side.
  • 1Nov2016 – Suunto’s SPARTAN ULTRA and SPORT do not PROPERLY read power from a footpod ie from STRYD v2. But they DO read it PERFECTLY from a v1 STRYD chest strap. The SPARTAN might work when paired as a bike pod and when thatis enabled in the sport profile. Over to you Mr Suunto…
  • The STRYD v1 unit is no longer sold but stock exists to service issues with existing users.

Futures

  1. The most likely development is dual-sided power and all the duplicate/aggregate versions of the existing metrics that would come with that.
  2. After that perhaps a device to take into account wind.
  3. Perhaps then also an improved chest strap.

These would all be 2018 or beyond.

Bedtime Reading

Alternatives

There is no 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.RUN,Runteq’s ZOI and others.

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, Training Peaks or other 3rd party platforms.

  • The Garmin environment is good-to-go with STRYD providing you get a CIQ-enabled watch.
  • Suunto’s later AMBITs are good-to-go.
  • Polar needs to enable a power channel for running in the M600 and V800 and future watches. It is being worked on.
  • Suunto need to sort out the SPARTANs properly pairing with STRYD v2 compatibility but are otherwise good-to-go.
  • Using the app as mechanism to get data to STRYD Powercenter is also perfectly sensible.

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.

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.

For what it’s worth: I use it. I like it.

Price, Availability & Discount Code

I partner with STRYD on this and you can get a 10% discount by using the code TFK10 directly with the manufacturer and you will help support this blog at the same time. Thank you!

STRYD is US$199 or £199 and available  here flag-icon-usa-the5krunner-37x37 US$199 flag-icon-uk-the5krunner-37x37GBP199

stryd-tfk-discount

10% Discount From STRYD

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3 thoughts on “Review: STRYD Footpod, Running Power Meter

  1. Can you provide details on the Spartan issues? My Stryd Summit foot pod is working just fine with my Spartan Ultra. Pair as power pod, activate power pod in the sports mode I want to use, power shows up when I’m running. Couldn’t be simpler.

    Liked by 1 person

    • first you would have to enable power pod in the sport profile in movescount. I understand that there are also issues around other devices that are paired at the same time and their relative priorities. so I thought it was quite complicated and not standard operation. I gave in trying, STRYD *HAVE* read through what I wrote for factual errors and it is their view that suunto need to sort it out too. Other readers might have luck, like you. Edit: Having said all of that the instructions on the STRYD site are pretty much what you say 🙂

      Liked by 1 person

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