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RunScribe Plus Review – Footpod & Running Power Meter

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Here we have a detailed RunScribe Plus Review, looking at the latest iteration (v3) of this live gait analysis tool and running power meter.

RunScribe Plus Review

The RunScribe Plus version marks a significantly different new product when compared to the previous RunScribe Pro version (v2) – often the older, Pro version is simply referred to as RunScribe.

Shocking form

Published: December 2017.

 

Summary: It’s cool!

Scribe Labs was formed in 2012 and had a working product a year or so later. The RunScribe Plus version in this review takes gait metric awesomeness to whole new level. First up you can now look at RunScribe’s gait metrics in real time on many mid- to high-end sports watches and, second-up, you now have a  running power meter to go head-to-head with the competing STRYD and Garmin Running Power products.

If you are a geeky, gait-metric kinda guy/gal then you will go for the Plus over any other product.

If you are a triathlete or a runner looking to get in on the running with power game then RunScribe is certainly worth close consideration against the other 2 products in that space.

What is it?

It is a shoe-based running gait system with 2 pods that delivers deep-running mechanics information to a proprietary app and online platform, synchronising through a smartphone. Essentially this is the carry-over ‘old’ RunScribe platform. It’s good, but…

RunScribe is ALSO a shoe-based running gait system that delivers deep, LIVE, running mechanics information through Garmin CIQ apps and onto Garmin Connect itself. Further analysis-awesomeness will see you take your data further afield to, perhaps, the equally awesome (and free) Golden Cheetah software.

So it’s kinda like the RunScribe System and the Garmin CIQ system work alongside each other, essentially independently. You can use both or either of them

The pods are transferable between pairs of shoes and are worn either on the laces or on the heel (as shown).

Uniquely, you get a RunScribe pod for each shoe (ie 2) enabling you to see the symmetry of your running metrics.

And the other BIGGIE for 2018 is that you get running power and most metrics from BOTH SIDES of your body. No-one else does that.

It’s this big.

What is it NOT?

It’s not just a pod that produces cadence, distance, stride length and speed/pace. RunScribe is a WHOLE step change above that.

Who is it for?

Scribe Labs market RunScribe as being for the “data-driven athlete”. I’d go with that and clearly you will see that RunScribe’s gait metrics are great for coaches too.

RunScribe is also great for those of you who want to run with power – initially triathletes but this will gradually encompass more and more runners as time passes.

RunScribe is for athletes who own most watch types. Not just Garmin.

If you want to be voice-coached on your running style via the metrics your gait system collects then you might be better to look at SHFT.

Why Is It Different?

There are a few running gait products out on the market; some are super-expensive, lab-based systems and others broadly sit in the consumer-space alongside, or below, RunScribe.

Scribe Labs have learnt from their v1.0 and v2.0 products and put together another well thought-through offering with compelling features.

Typical Usage

 

Simple Usage

OK. It really is this simple.

Geek Usage

Smile as you make subtle changes to your running gait and see the stats change in real-time on your high-end Garmin 935 (probably the best triathlon watch). See the smile broaden further as you chose between one of several platforms on which to bathe in your run data. (TP, ST3, GC will provide support either now or soon)

Pro Usage

OK the geek is probably a pro too. But you will be luxuriating in running your marathon focussing totally on your power output in the certainty that you will achieve your planned time whilst simultaneously not caring about any errant hills that come your way because you are running up them targeting power, not pace.

Garmin & Garmin Connect

Let’s cut to the chase. Many of you are going to be using RunScribe in the Garmin environment. I’ll discuss compatibility later but, unlike Garmin’s Running Power app (GRP), the RunScribe app IS compatible with most Garmin watches that support either the old CIQ 1.x or new CIQ2.x formats eg 920XT and 935 respectively. Just to be clear: More Garmin watches support RunScribe than Garmin watches supporting GRP.

Once the Runscibe app or a datafield is installed, your data naturally becomes part of the Garmin CIQ environment: you can see the metrics live on the watch; the metrics get saved to the FIT file; they get synchronised with Garmin Express; and then can be viewed like any other data in Garmin Connect. Like this…

RunScribe Dashboard

RunScribe’s app synchronises your pod data to the online RunScribe dashboard. That’s where all the gait awesomeness can be seen. You can also see MUCH of the special data on the app.

Dashboard // Home

The dashboard summarises your runs with RunScribe in a couple of normal calendar- and day-based ways. Not especially noteworthy.

That’s a lot of miles

RUNS

This is where you will find the meat of your run. For each run you are presented with 4 main sections of information

  1. Community Comparison – Your efficiency, shock and motion characteristics compared to the wider community.
  2. Run Summary – A summary of the key highlights like distance and time. You change DISTANCE here to the correct value to calibrate your pods.
  3. Tags – By optionally adding a few tags or markers to each workout you can then analyse all workouts as a whole with the same tags eg ‘all interval workouts’ or eg ‘all workouts in shoe X’
  4. Graph & Metrics – This is a nice graphical summary of your workout where you can overlay several gait metrics and then further break out L/R balance, splits and symmetry.

This data is all great stuff.

Let’s look in a bit more detail at those sections

Community Comparison

It’s nice to know I’m an efficient runner. Anecdotally I’d say I was ‘alright’ but will always take a compliment.

My typical shock varies between Average and High. This is my area of concern and I know that certain shoes ALWAYS lead to high shock. I also have learnt that some pairs of shoes deliver average shock and seem to be the ones I don’t get injured in. Strange that.

I have a not-too-major stablity issue on my right leg which may go some way to explaining the HIGH pronation velocity. As well as stability I also have right foot mobility isues and also hip flexibility limitations too.

RunScribe places the marker in the sand. There’s a problem. RunScribe won’t tell me how to solve it but if I try a few things then i can watch to see if they start to change (or not) the imbalances that RunScribe sees.

Run Summary

Unsurprisingly a high level summary.

RunScribe are working on auto-calibrating their distance algorithm. For now (Q1.2018), after your first few runs you should edit the distance of selected workouts which then calibrates how the pods interpret distance-based metrics. It is possible to trim parts of workouts and enter distances that correspond to selected parts of the workout rather than the workout as a whole (just do that online).

Distance calibration factors are sync’d back to the pods via the app

Tagging & Calibration

Both the app and dashboard OPTIONALLY allow you to assign various ‘tags’ to your run. You can assign these ‘tags’: specific shoes; terrain; pain points, such as Achilles; and workout types. This sounds like more work and a potential waste of time. BUT It is worth taking a minute to do this as you can, for example, later go on to look at your performances/injuries(!) in relation to these tagged factors.

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Graph & Metrics

You can overlay PACE plus one of the RunScribe metrics over the duration of your run

On the right hand side of the image below, you can see the small vertical orange bars representing imbalances. In this particular example there is nothing too much of concern other than the RIGHT PRONATION VELOCITY imbalance at the bottom of the image.

It gets cooler.

The following slide show contains the 4 graph types at the top of the previous image. You toggle through; RUN, SPLITS, SYMMETRY and L/R. Like this…

So, for example, here you could easily look at different splits where you are running at different speeds. Within those splits you could look at the power from each, you could then delve deeper to see leg L/R Stride Length and the L/R Ground Contact time and the Step Rate symmetry.

Here are the metrics which are displayed on the dashboard for you to analyse:

COMPARISON

Moving on to comparisons in this RunScribe Plus Review. Comparisons aggregate the data up for each tag that you have chosen to look at. In the following example I am looking at all the runs with one shoe (Zante) vs all the runs with another shoe (Wave Rider). I could further refine it down to LONG RUNs with each shoe… and so on.

The Zante feels like a faster shoe, maybe I just wear it on faster runs? The chart doesn’t help there (although I could narrow the Workout Type to INTERVALS). But it does say that the contact time for both shoes is the same. Strange, you’d have thought it would be lower when I run faster with a lighter shoe.

Also the Zante has a higher SHOCK and that too is strange as I get less injury with them. But then look at the PRONATION EXCURSION; the WAVE RIDER is higher there, maybe that is the source of my injury problem?

Hopefully you get the general thrust, that this is a wonderful tool to delve into MANY aspects of your running. You need time to do that – as well as having correctly tagged the data in the first place.

SHOES (Comparison)

The SHOES view of your data in this RunScribe Plus Review provides a bit more detail of the type of runs you perform, the aggregate motion/efficiency/shock stats AND the trend in the stats.

As an example, here the WAVERIDER 17 seems to be associated more with LEFT CALF pain and, in this case, there doesn’t appear to be any particular trend in the metrics over time.

 

OTHER

The remainder of the DASHBOARD covers your profile where you can also list injuries. Otherwise there are links to various RunScribe-related information resources such as explanations of the metrics they use, their blog and a community forum.

All good stuff.

RunScribe App

You use the Runscribe app for updating the firmware and synchronizing the scaling factors back to the RunScribe Pods. There are also various troubleshooting tools on the app.

You also get the dashboard view and ability to drill down into data from an individual workout. The dashboard view is similar to the online dashboard but slightly reduced in overall scope. Here is a slideshow showing the dashboard and then the extended detail for a single workout as I swipe down the screen.

Compatibility RunScribe Plus Review

App compatibility is given as any Bluetooth SMART Android device plus

In terms of watch compatibility this might interest you

v1.07

Zwift

Whilst running with power might be one trend for the running world, then ZWIFT is another trend for 2018 and beyond. As of December 2017: RunScribe works with Zwift in beta.

Image Source: RunScribe Forum

ACCURACY

This section is left intentionally incomplete at this stage. Pace and power accuracy will be added to this RunScribe Plus Review at some point in 2018.

There are not many other tools that I have access to that can compare the motion, shock and efficiency metrics with the comparable RunScribe metrics.

However, here is an example of a comparison of Ground Contact Time when compared to Garmin’s HRM-TRI chest strap and STRYD‘s footpod. You’ll see that RunScribe visually tallies to STRYD (review here) quite well. I can’t say for sure if the numbers are correct but it is always a good sign when two agree with each other..

– IT DOES REALLY SHOW GROUND CONTACT TIME but says cadence

Several of the other RunScribe metrics have no direct comparisons available anywhere else in a consumer tool. So a comparison is simply not possible.

However, two KEY metrics that need to be compared are PACE and POWER. As of September 2018, the pace/distance metric is finalised it looks accurate once calibrated.

The accuracy of RunScribe’s RUNNING POWER calculation seems as unknowable as everyone else’s. The following link to some work I did with the Polar Vantage, Garmin Running Power and STRYD shows that they are all quite different an uncomparable.

Polar Vantage V Power vs RunScribe Plus vs STRYD vs Garmin Running Power

 

Polar Vantage V Power vs RunScribe Plus vs STRYD vs Garmin Running Power

 

Other Tidbits + Miscellanea

I didn’t have any issues of particular concern in the production of this RunScribe Plus Review and I only mention these out of general interest or for the sake of completeness:

New RunScribe Plus Hardware Iteration

Shoe Prints – from RunScribe Plus

THOUGHTS, PROs & CONs

Scribe Labs (RunScribe) started out in 2014, raising funds on Kickstarter. I would NOT class them as a Kickstarter company any longer.

I want to put what I’m about to say in context in this RunScribe Plus Review: My understanding, after conversations with RunScirbe’s founder Tim, is that he has a significant personal stake in the success of RunScribe. I think this is a massively important distinction to make when you might compare a small company like RunScribe to some Kickstarter companies and their products. A Kickstarter company could well take your money and run, leaving you with nothing. RunScribe have a VERY REAL product and deserve to do well but if they don’t then the owners will take a much bigger hit than you. You can also look at their online forum where issues and methods are being discussed more openly than in many other companies. Take reassurance from the fact that RunScribe has been continually developed and improved over several years and is now on Version 3; there IS work still to be undertaken to improve the product and, AFAIK, that work is being done (edit: September 2018- Sensor Fusion is now live)

RunScribe V1: Image Source: Kickstarter.com 2014

 

Basically: All the right things seem to be happening within the constraints of what a small company can feasbly accomplish.

RunScribe is a powerful tool which takes live pod/shoe-based gait metrics and moves them to the next level. The addition of RUNNING POWER and GARMIN INTEGRATION puts RunScribe nicely on-trend with developments in the wider running-tech world.

There are many strengths and nice features inherent to RunScribe. To me, some of the strengths of RunScribe that particularly stand out include:

I would like to see some detailed 3rd party validation of RunScribe’s metrics. The metrics I got all seem plausible enough to me and, at this stage with no evidence to the contrary, I work on the assumption that they are ‘correct enough’ to be actionable.

Bear in mind that there are various industry-wide issues with the definition of Garmin’s Running Dynamics data standards (or lack thereof). That is beyond RunScribe’s control. Criticisms that can be made against RunScribe in that regard would equally apply to Garmin.

In summary then: If you are a coach, sports physio or data-driven runner and you want to look more at some of the causes of (in)efficiency or injury then RunScribe fits the bill very nicely indeed. BUY.

If you want accurate running pace and/or dual-sided running power then RunScribe MIGHT be for you, once we have all validated that the data is actionable.

Alternatives to RunScribe Plus Review

Kinematix TUNE, Runteq ZOI, SHFT, Garmin (Advanced) Running Dynamics, new STRYD and Sensoria are alternatives and there are new ones popping up all the time. Whilst an insole is probably a better location for a sensor I would caution you that such a sensor needs to be super durable even when placed under a regular insole.

NB: Kinematix ceased trading (2017).

The following chart compares the characteristics of the 3 main Running Power contenders:

, I will clarify the Vantage V offering as more details emerge and as I start to play (I mean train) with it.

Alternative data sources: Vertical Oscillation (VO) is defined, I believe, as the bounce of the TORSO. STRYD and Garmin’s HRM-RUN get quite different results for VO but as STRYD measure VO from the foot, that might explain the difference, or not. Either way RunScribe does not produce a VO measure. So if you want VO you might want to use a HRM-PRO in addition to RunScribe – even an older HRM-RUN might do the trick.

One of the great things with CIQ is that data from multiple sensors will be combined into one FIT file for later analysis. Whether or not your analysis package can then read and display all that data is another matter entirely. But the data IS there, all stored separately by each manufacturer.

 

PRICE, AVAILABILITY & DISCOUNT


RunScribe are now targeting the ‘professional’ clinic market and their solution offers an online platform that can handle multiple patients

 

DISCOUNT CODE: SCtfk10 

If you want to get a pair of RunScribe pods now you can buy direct from RunScribe in the USA using the image links below.

 

USA:  10% off Runscribe – Discount automatically applied which you see automatically added in the checkout
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