Spring is the air and it’s time to get those running miles UP.
I can tell from the traffic on this website that a LOT of people are looking at upgrading their running/sports/tri watches and then some of those people are still not sure about buying: cadence sensors for their bikes; power meters for their bikes; or maybe even about the suitability of STRYD for running.
In our heart-of-running-hearts we must all know that upgrading from a Fenix 3 to a Fenix 5 or from a Garmin 620 to a Garmin 935 will make just about zero difference to our race times.
Sure, ‘the watch’ is an aesthetic thing and when they are so expensive it is nice to have the latest one or perhaps have a better one that looks nice enough to wear for work. But I know that really a £600+ Fenix 5x to navigate around my local park is more about pose value than about avoiding getting lost.
Most of us accept that the right pair of training shoes/racing shoes and the right bits of bike kit (I’m thinking aero wheels and helmets) will make us faster for absolutely no extra effort. Yet maybe we then don’t accept the argument for more accuracy which could quite plausibly be argued leads to better pacing and again to free speed. And of course more accuracy could give us more insight into our sporting efforts when we analyse our efforts after the workout.
If you are thinking of spending over £200/$250 on a sports watch and you haven’t got any way of knowing how fast you are turning your legs over or turning your cranks over (cadence) then, for sure, you ARE missing out on relatively easy cheap ‘wins’ with simple AND CHEAP gadgets. I’m talking something in the area of ‘notable gains’ rather than ‘marginal gains’ for many people. For most people getting your cadences up to over 85 (170) will make you more efficient and less injury-prone.
If you are a runner then I’ve yet to find a GPS watch that can tell me how fast I am running ‘right now’ – ie all their instant pace figures are wrong and sometimes VERY wrong. Those watches are often Ok when it comes to correctly showing your lap pace or a pace from a longer period BUT if you are 5 minutes into your latest mile and you are aiming for a 6 minute mile then should you speed up? or slow down? or keep going at the same speed? The answer, if you think about it, is that ‘you don’t know’. You NEED to know how fast you are running RIGHT NOW to make that decision. The shorter the race distance the higher the importance becomes of correct pacing as you can’t ‘make up’ the time later (hmmm).
A properly calibrated footpod will give you a MUCH more accurate instant pace figure. In the case of STRYD it will give you the most accurate instant pace (Source: see comments below).
It’s not always the same argument for cyclists; if you are going 20mph then what does that actually mean? Uphill or upwind or off-road speeds are VERY different to flat road speeds. This is where a cycling power meter comes in handy where WATTS becomes a GOOD proxy for EFFORT. 300 watts of power going downhill on a MTB is the same EFFORT as 300w going up a hill and into the wind on your road bike. The wonders of power-duration curves mean that you can soon enough figure out what power levels of effort you can maintain for differing durations and what %ages you need to achieve to elicit differing bodily adaptations in your training.
If you have more than one bike then the cheapest practical option, in my opinion, is a Favero BePro S (single sided power meter pedal set). For a one-bike solution a $400 Stages crank is the cheapest sensible option (or 4iiii !). Consider also a powerpod for an even cheaper option. Power meters tend also to tell you your cycling cadence so that’s a nice 2-for-1 bonus.
Exactly the same arguments apply to running with STRYD. But STRYD’s running powermeter is cheaper than EVERY cycling power meter.
So if you look at the ‘bang for your performance-optimising buck’ then here is the order in which I would buy the gadgets:
- A GPS watch that can do laps and show your heart rate. A Garmin 920XT is as good as any and handily supports all the subsequent recommendations 😉
- A Garmin footpod (cadence and pace/stride length – skip if you buy STRYD)
- A Garmin bike cadence-only sensor (skip if you buy a power meter)
- STRYD (power and pace + other metrics)
- Favero BePro power meter (power and cadence + other metrics)
In terms of pure usefulness though, the bike power meter would edge out STRYD. It’s just that the bike power meter would be two or three (or more!) times the price.
Indoor running? Indoor cycling? All of the above should easily work in your winter-training scenarios. For example just buy a cheap turbo trainer and get the power from your pedals. That will save you HUNDREDS of $/£ compared to a WAHOO KICKR.
One thing I would also bear in mind: If you intend to take running/cycling/triathlon seriously then you WILL END UP EVENTUALLY BUYING ALL THOSE GADGETS THAT YOU ONLY THINK YOU NEED RIGHT NOW. So just go ahead and buy them now. That way you will get more benefit and use out of them. FWIW I did NOT follow that advice and regretted it 🙁
To return to the title of the post, I would definitely say that all of those 5 general product recommendations are ‘worth it’. As you go down the list it obviously gets more difficult to afford the item. Although this post mentions cycling a fair amount it is coming from a running-gadget perspective. clearly there are aero gains and other gains that can be cheaply achieved in cycling.
Specific areas where I think that ‘STRYD is worth it for me’ would include the following in this order:
- Accurate footpod pace over any distance, racing or training.
- >45 minute training on undulating ground
- >10k racing on undulating terrain
- Hill reps
You might train differently to me and get other benefits. If you already bike-train by power then you may well use power as a means to estimate your training load (I use heart rate)
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