We shall see in some of the other posts publishing today that this involves some cool new hardware and software features. This post specifically looks at Running Power which Polar have rightly identified as one of the trends that running tech will progress with over the coming years.
This move into Running With Power from Polar puts them alongside Garmin (with Running Power CIQ), STRYD and RunScribe Plus.
Like Suunto, Polar had already supported RUNNING POWER natively some time ago ie the V800 already supports RunScribe Plus and STRYD. So that means that Polar Flow and the device-based logic for working with power metrics will have already been developed by Polar.
Thus the new Polar running power kinda just slots into what is already there. It’s a bit like Garmin’s running power algorithm/apps using the pre-existing CIQ infrastructure. ish.
How Polar Works With Running Power
Except it’s not quite the same as what Garmin has done as Garmin’s Running Power also requires a chest strap (or RD Pod) to measure some of the body movements and a high-end Garmin device with a built-in barometer. The unique thing about Polar is that EVERYTHING can be done from within the Vantage V. Nothing else is REQUIRED. No extra expenditure on extra bits of hardware. No extra bits of hardware to keep charged up as well as keeping your watch charged up – as someone whose life is devoted to regularly charging up many 10s of sports devices this is great news 😉
But seriously RUNNING POWER will at least help you once in a while. At least.
There’s still more to say but I want to first just clarify that so far I am only talking about the top-end Polar Vantage V model. The Polar Vantage M model does not have the ability to generate power numbers itself. The Polar Vantage M model does NOT have a barometer and so cannot do that. HOWEVER, all is not lost. The Polar Vantage M can work JUST LIKE THE V800 ie it can pair with STRYD or RunScribe and display running power.
- Vantage V – native running power or external running power (STRYD/RunScribe)
- Vantage M – from external running power only (STRYD/RunScribe)
Polar’s Vantage M merely supports external 3rd party power meters.
On the other hand, the Polar Vantage V *IS* a power meter inside. This is how the Vantage V compares to the other competitive offerings and you will notice that there are similarities with Garmin’s Running Power and you will also notice that more features are planned by Polar, hopefully arriving soon.
Some More Details
I’ve not investigated this but the Polar Vantage V will not yet work with a footpod to calculate power (it does get paces, distance and cadence from the Polar STRIDE sensor). My understanding is that there are issues for the Vantage knowing if the footpod has been correctly calibrated.
The option to use a footpod is important in the future because distance/pace is an input to the power calculation. Theoretically, therefore, you will get more accurate and more consistent power readings from using a properly calibrated footpod with the Vantage V. Then you could use your existing Polar Stride Footpod or even STRYD Live. STRYD Live is the cheaper, non-power footpod version of STRYD.
To be clear: I made this same criticism of Garmin’s Running Power (which can accept a footpod as a source of speed/distance to improve accuracy). The accuracy and consistency of power WILL almost certainly be better if you use STRYD Live as the source. So, for most people, you might as well buy a full-blown STRYD and be done with it.
But, for other people, the cost of a new watch AND the cost of STRYD together will be too much. Add on to that the uncertainty behind investing in a new running metric and it might make sense for you to upgrade your old Polar to the new Vantage V and just play with the running power for a few months and defer any decision you might have with STRYD.
But that will give you a problem. All of the different vendors’ power algorithms produce power values of differing magnitudes. Garmin’s are the highest, STRYD’s the lowest and RunScribe somewhere in the middle. If you invest time in running with Polar’s running power then, if you switch your source of power, ALL YOUR POWER DATA will be meaningless in the context of the new device. That’s not the end of the world but it’s important to know.
Polar also state that their power values are most closely aligned with those from RunScribe and that we should see Polar trending in line with STRYD/RunScribe even though the magnitudes will be different. I suspect, but do not know, that Polar and RunScribe share common sources for some of the maths involved. (Edit: some comparison runs linked to here)
To be clear: You cannot switch from one running power device to another and then back again. You can only use one technology if you want meaningful and actionable results. Even your source of pace/distance must stay the same for your power figures to have any chance of being consistent.
Configuring Power On Flow
There are some new bits here as Polar seem to be slightly deepening their support for Running Power.
The configuration of power zones and the handling of power metrics on the Vantage is accomplished through Polar Flow. I don’t have the beta iOS app but I would imagine iOS and Android will soon both replicate what I did below, online.
I think this image is fairly self-explanatory and shows how BOTH the Vantage M and Vantage V can have their power zones set. These running power zones should apply uniformly across V800, Vantage M and Vantage V.
Note. You can now set custom, free-form power zones.
Note: You can set zones based on %age of FTP (actually Polar are calling it MAP but the end result of power zones will be similar).
Note: As of September 2018 I believe the above image does not reflect the public view of Polar Flow. So I seem to have a special version of flow.polar.com enabled for me as I have sync’d a Vantage to it.
Zone lock is a super-cool Polar feature. This is a GREAT feature for pacing by whichever zone-based system you are using ie power, HR or pace/speed. For training, it is great because you can get alerts if you stray outside a training zone and for racing it’s great for the same reason. In some respects, the Zone feature is superior to the alerts on a Garmin. For example, if you follow your plan and start off your race too hard (Zone 5) and you can’t sustain it then, on a Garmin, it is not easy to reset your alerts as you are racing. With Polar, you can relatively easily reset your alerts to be based on the lower Zone 4. On the other hand, zone-based alerts are obviously tied to the zone boundaries and with Garmin, you can set custom targets ON THE WATCH more easily.
Here is how Polar describe Zone lock:
“With Zone lock, you can lock the zone you’re currently in based on heart rate, speed/pace or power, and make sure you stay on the chosen zone during training without having to check your device. If you go outside the locked zone during training, you’ll get audio feedback from your device.
“To activate Zone lock on your device press and hold the start button to lock the zone you are currently in. To lock/unlock the zone, press and hold the start button again. If you’re using more than one zone at the same time your device will ask you to choose the one you want to lock…..”
There is a new look to FLOW when it comes to changing on-screen metrics with the Vantage as shown below. Configuration of older devices seems unchanged. Indeed the new LOOK to this aspect of FLOW’s functionality doesn’t seem to add anything other than prettiness.
Please note that in the image below my Vantage shows up as an M430 (Edit: since changed). In fact, both of my Vantage devices seem to show up as the same M430 but that presumably is linked to the beta stuff I’m working with. Interesting tidbit: beta Suunto devices also do a similar thing and appear as a different product until they go on sale.
The power graph, shown above as a full-screen choice translates to the new-look screen, below, shown on the Vantage M. I don’t like its aesthetics but the screen does get the MAX/Average/Current power information over clearly.
If instead, you wanted to add more conventional-looking metrics you can add up to 4. There does not appear to be LAP NP, NP, or left/right power metrics for running with power. But you do get a reasonable choice of running power metrics as shown below.
These screens then translate to the following real-life examples on the Vantage M itself.
Post Workout Power
The following screens show some of the post-workout information that is presented to the runner. If you are familiar with Polar products then these screens will look familiar to you but just a bit prettier.
Post Workout Analysis
A quick synchronisation to FLOW on either your app or online will give my hobble (run) shown in all its Polar Flow glory, like this:
Post Workout Data Export
Polar Flow is translating the raw power data into usable information. But there are no real analyses or insights available here. For that sort of thing, you might well end up exporting your data to either Training Peaks, SportsTracks or Golden Cheetah (free).
Polar does NOT support FIT data export. Instead, it exports to TCX files and these just use the generic POWER FIELD so be careful not to mix up your bike power data and running power data.
The automated link to Training Peaks I’m guessing would use .JSON files and should NOT mix up running power with bike power (although I seem to remember it used to). However, even using the TCX file with Golden Cheetah is OK, Golden Cheetah knows that the exercise is running so allocates running power to the proper sport.
MORE INFO: You can find all related posts listed in this tag as I add them https://the5krunner.com/tag/PolarVantage.
A Polar Vantage Review will not follow until late October and that will be with a proper production model, not this beta unit.
Price, Availability & Discount
The Polar Vantage M retails at $260/GBP250/Eur280,
The Polar Vantage V retails at $499/GBP439/Eur499
The Polar Vantage now has general availability. There do not seem to be widespread discount yet in the EU. You will find a better deal at New Running Gear and Power Meter City. New Running Gear (NRG), below, were also bundling in GBP50 of running freebies.