Running With Power 2019 – Will there be an ANT+ Standard ?

I’ve been getting very excited with myself recently. I had pretty much convinced myself into believing that an ANT+ Running With Power Standard would be announced at 1:03pm on Friday 15th March 2019.

Then I took a step back and thought I’d better check my facts. That’s always a time-consuming annoyance when it comes to writing stuff quickly without interfering with the ‘other job’.

Polar Vantage M Review RunScribe PlusBackground

Running with power is becoming increasingly popular and yet is still only used by a miniscule fraction of the total number of global runners. That’s either the sign of massive potential, zero interest…or something in between.

STRYD have mostly invented the market by themselves and offer compatibility on Polar, Garmin and Suunto platforms. Although apps that support STRYD now exist on WatchOS (Apple) and Samsung Gear. STRYD have their own smartphone app too. My educated guess is that the Garmin platform for STRYD’s market is by far the most important and that STRYD have been left to develop their own functionality through Garmin’s CIQ apps and data fields.

RunScribe Plus is an external pod-based solution that does similar running power stuff to STRYD but goes deeper into running gait metrics. Both STRYD and RunScribe Plus’s versions of ‘running power’ are also natively supported by Polar and Suunto. Subsequent developments in the market brought us:

This all sounds very nice but, in reality, it’s a bit of a mess when you dig deeper.

stryd powerrace app garmin 235Polar and Suunto need to implement Running Power Zones, alerts, running power plans and other running with power related functionality ALL BY THEMSELVES ie they can’t leave such developments to a 3rd party like STRYD to implement it via an APP as the Spartan/Vantage platforms have no app infrastructure. To some degree, however, that work has been already been done but there is still work-in-progress.

On the other hand Garmin have made very little effort to provide any infrastructure that directly supports the aforesaid power zones, power plans and power alerts. Perhaps the reasoning is that the CIQ infrastructure lets developers do that themselves? Fair enough. Partly. But those of us with Garmin watches and STRYD know that it would be MUCH easier if Running Power were treated in exactly the same wasy as cycling power. Yet why would Garmin spend their shareholders’ money to make that easier for us?

Futures

There are rumours of a Garmin Running Pod coming to market in 2019. I think that is reasonably likely to be true (the Spanish word for potentiometer is the same as used by Garmin for the Vector – see link).

If you combine that rumour with the limitations of CIQ for running with power then it just seems to make sense that Garmin would be keen, at some point, to properly integrate running with power into any future out-of-the-box infrastructure of theirs.

The most sensible way for this to happen is for the ANT+ Working Group (WG) for Running Power to agree a ‘standard’. The ANT+ WG is ostensibly independent of Garmin but my understanding is that Garmin would be likely to implement whatever an ANT+ WG recommends.

Suunto SPARTAN TRAINER with STRYD Mizuno

Spartan Trainer + STRYD

Present Reality in Garminland

Unfortunately AN@STRYD says, “The effort to create a standard is dormant right now” and TC@RunScribe has not made any contact since November 2017.

As DCR poetically put it to me today, “the ANT+ WG for Running Power is pretty much on vacation

Separate info (2018 ANT+ symposium): dcrainmaker.com

My personal view has been somewhat blinkered by ‘me the athlete’ and what I need from it to use running power. I just want to use it as if it were bike power. In terms of the physics and equations, that I don’t really care too much about, I appreciate that we are dealing with a different beast to the cycling scenario of DFPMs and that Polar Power, STRYD Power, Garmin Power and RunScribe Power are all going to produce different numbers. I can work with that. A coach might find it hard to work with that across multiple athletes, but I can work with it for me.

Here’s where I think we are

  • Measurement & Calculation – No agreement, although there are commonalites shared between different players.
  • Transmission, Display – No agreement other than the basic ANT+ mechanism
  • Recording & Analysis Formats – Most (all?) end-user analysis platform now handle the vagaries of each different source of running power data via the FIT2 standard.

RunScribe Plus Review Buy Price SaleMy working assumption was that it should be straightforward to get agreement on the second point, especially if there is going to be a new piece of Garmin hardware. Once that happened, the third point (external analysis platforms) would quickly adjust and fall into place by actions from those various players.

However my aforementioned blinkers would not let me see that STRYD and Garmin probably can’t agree on the calculations especially if there any elements of commercial confidentiality involved. Yet even though that lack of agreement makes sense to me, I still would have hoped that it would NOT have stood in the way of the rest happening.

DCR: Ultimately for running power to succeed it needs two things: Agreeance on accuracy, and agreeance on a common way to transmit and record the data so that all apps, devices, and platforms can utilize it.  Otherwise, we’ll end up with silos of information that neither coaches or athletes can compare year over year and athlete to athlete.

I’d buy that.

DCR and I do seem to differ on the importance of running power. My take is that Running Power is, and will be, a bigger ‘thing’ than commonly perceived. I suspect, but don’t know, that Garmin and other running watch makers have similar feelings to me. Even having said that, I think Running Power is currently at somewhat of a crossroads, it really seems to be much more widely known about than a year ago and used a fair amount more than a year ago. But can STRYD, Polar and Suunto keep the growth curves pointing ever-upwards or does the market really need  the step change and validation that a properly integrated Garmin Running Pod might provide?

Alternate Garmin-Platform Future

Garmin Running Power Jan 2018AN@STRYD says, “We believe that the level of innovation and rate of innovation enabled by Connect IQ will allow us to deliver awesome customer experiences“. Thus, it looks like STRYD are happy with the current Status Quo.

Garmin’s current Running Power data fields are actually pretty nice. But they are only nice if you compare them to STRYD’s nearly equally nice data fields – STRYD also have CIQ Apps and a better overall offering. They are NOT nice if you compare them to a properly implemented and native running power metric IMHO.

I just can’t see how Garmin can release a Running Pod that will only utilise something similar to their existing Running Power apps. Perhaps Garmin will go it alone in some way, shape or form with a proprietary/private mechanism? But even if they do, and I think they will, I would then imagine that STRYD and RunScribe fall in line soon after. That is, if the Garmin solution is open for them to access….which it may well not be.

STRYD-RunScribe-Garmin-Running-Power-Polar-Vantage-V

Clickable

 

 

 

Support this site with purchases at these partners - should click to a local choice in your country

15 thoughts on “Running With Power 2019 – Will there be an ANT+ Standard ?

  1. Thanks for the analysis, being a Suunto/Stryd owner I share your perception of the glass being half full. The training insight is tangible but then why are power zone alerts still missing? I fear that it may be a mix of limited resources and also not knowing if that effort might still be worth something once the elephant in the room has made its move.

    This year I also noticed for the first time other runners with a Stryd footpod so the idea of running with power is slowly getting some traction (pardon the pun).

    The table has some “No” fields nice and green that you might want to check BTW. Keep up the good work, this is the website I find myself referring to most often.

    Chris

    • “This year I also noticed for the first time other runners with a Stryd footpod so the idea of running with power is slowly getting some traction (pardon the pun).”
      puns always welcome here 😉

      “The table has some “No” fields nice and green that you might want to check BTW. Keep up the good work, this is the website I find myself referring to most often.” ah…no it’s correct. in those cases GREEN is GOOD. well at least one of them is. it does need updating a tad with the runscribe beta thing…it’s not beta anymore

    • > I fear that it may be a mix of limited resources and also not knowing if that effort might still be worth something once the elephant in the room has made its move.

      *How* they integrate power into their UI is (should be) independent of how power is calculated or transmitted to the head unit, which is what Garmin / ANT+ Overlords might change. They can create zone alerts which are agnostic of the source, and just switch source if and when that becomes a new standard.

      • maybe.
        i think STRYD do have the cash tho from VC + sales – and are in a much better position than very many startupesque companies
        i think i agree with your other point. But I suspect that STRYD see that they are doing well at the moment and see a competitive advantage in their datafields and apps and powercentre infrastructure and don’t wnat to open it up.
        eg When the garmin running power apps came out i liked them and was angling to see if STRYD could pipe their data into them but it was not possible.
        same thing applies to stryd. if they were open, for exampel, runscribe could hijack there apps (sorry Tim@RS…just an example)

        so i think the danger to stryd is that ***IF*** Garmin come out with some all singing all dancing wonderful 2019 garmin running power solution then STRYD could be playing catch up. as you say, if it were standards-based then STRYD could hijack it.

        interesting times.

  2. If they called it grade adjusted pace I’m sure it would be more successful. Power when running is also way less useful than on a bike even assuming we could measure running power. 200W up hill on a bike is pretty much equivelent to 200W on the flat into a wind. Same muscles same actions. That’s not the case when running so power training is less useful since you’d not be able to train an FTP and find a wattage to follow for a race, you’d STILL need to train your muscles for speed, hills, downhills, flats and endurance. If you’re training for those things anyway, may as well use traditional techniques since running power isn’t able to measure things like surface and conditions well. I just don’t think power translated well enough to running for mass market apeal at the price it’s currently at. Integrated into the Vantage as a GAP measurement is cheap and a nice to have, but I’ve not used it for training at all because the numbers are unrealistic and don’t match what’s happening.

    • “running power isn’t able to measure things like surface and conditions well.” check that with STRYD. IIRC it’s only wind that STRYD doens’t account for an Garmin attempt to correct for wind. So then it isn’t GAP but I take your point on it being a perhaps more friendly term. Anyway. we are where we are. Power it is. Measured by “Whatevers” not “Watts”

      Price: yep fair comment. But the future pricing is only going to go one way. And i think if you translate and read the Spanish article I think it implies cheaper prices from Garmin (which would be a suprise to be honest but, hey ho, there we go)

      “I’ve not used it for training at all because the numbers are unrealistic and don’t match what’s happening.” you’re using the polar one based partly on GPS? rather than STRYD. STRYD near-perfectly matches effort…for me..

      • I’m a Stryd user, and I mostly agree with Dave. I think another major issue is that for the typical competitive runner (i.e., non-ultra, non-trail), is that figuring out a grade-adjusted pace isn’t nearly as important as it is in cycling. Lap splits in track workouts are a superior way of measuring effort, as I think even Stryd would concede, and most important training is done on the track. As for racing, even supposedly hilly road courses are actually pretty flat compared to cycling courses. And the effect of hills on running pace is far less than the effect on cycling speed.

        • I’d agree with you about the track for sure.
          I’d also agree with the point you didn’t make, that high level runners ‘know’ their effort level without the need for a gadget
          There is also the time trial vs race argument where someone might argue that in a race you have to ‘keep up’ (simplistically). however the situation in running is actually more stark than cycling, in cycling drafting makes a massive difference and one trade off is to know how much extra energy to burn to get behind someone …it’s VERY much less of a factor when running a race
          You must have noticed that people tend to run up hills faster than STRYD would suggest (should you be aiming to maintain a constant effort)

  3. Garmin 945 = Garmin 935 + native running power ?
    But it will support also Stryd and Runscribe Plus pods or just Garmin stuff and leave Stryd and Runscribe Plus with their CIQ app?

    • *IF* there is standards-based running power then RS+STRYD+anyone else will be ok (they will have to make product changes)
      *IF* there is a proprietary Garmin implementation then only garmin can use it

  4. One the issue of running power zones on Polar watches.. I wrote to Polar about this and got a reply, “It is not yet possible but your wish is added to the future plans”.

    I was asking about the Vantage M and pointed out I had a Stryd.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *