This STRYD Review looks at running with STRYD power in detail, covering an in-depth look at the STRYD Footpod and software as well as the experience of use in training. Updated for 2019.
The new STRYD Footpod power meter is a great addition to your running arsenal and the vast majority of people who comment about it on the net love it.
Don’t like chest straps? No problems, the current version of STRYD is a footpod-based alternative to the earlier chest strap model which was known as the STRYD PIONEER.
Q: Running Power, is it all nonsense?
A: No. Most probably not nonsense.
I’m currently an 80% convert to running power. I certainly use it to quantify my performances on workouts and I frequently use it as a sanity check for extended steady-state efforts. For speedwork, I still like to see the time of my track laps or the pace out on the flat roads. Of course, with the pace on the road, I use the super accurate instant pace figures that come from STRYD
FWIW: I used STRYD at IMUK2017 and at my last 5k parkrun. It’s on my foot for nearly all of my runs.
My personal experience is that STRYD is generally very useful but not quite as useful as a cycling power meter. I’ll explain why later.
For me, the most useful feature that the STRYD Footpod 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, we just want something super-simple to operate, that seamlessly integrates into ‘how we currently do things‘.
STRYD DOES THAT.
Well at least for Garmin it does, but let’s not forget Suunto & Polar too. Both Polar & Suunto NATIVELY support running power.
There’s also the ability with the STRYD Footpod 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 too.
Does it REALLY measure POWER in WATTS? To be honest, I’ve no idea, but STRYD claim it does! For most of us, that’s not too important. Whatever it measures, it DOES seem to be a good and consistent proxy for form-related effort and that is good enough for me.
Please enjoy the whole review or skip to a section that most interests you.
What Do You Get?
Have a look at this short slideshow then I will briefly cover what comes in the box.
Both the charger and the STRYD Footpod are unusual-looking, to say the least. STRYD 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.
STRYD is broadly compatible with most high-end BLE and ANT+ Sports Watches. Specifically, you need to understand if your watch is FULLY compatible or PARTLY compatible. By that I mean compatible in these areas:
- Running Power – I’m assuming you all want this. But it can be provided natively or via Garmin CIQ or via an app or by using your older tri watch’s bike mode.
- Pace & Distance from STRYD – this basically means treadmill compatible
- Pace & Distance from STRYD with GPS enabled – this means you can override one or both of Pace/Distance when used outside
- Extra STRYD Data – Able to view the extra STRYD form/efficiency metrics ON THE WATCH
The watches that I would say are FULLY COMPATIBLE FOR POWER and TREADMILL are:
- Garmin – FR225, FR230, FR235, FR620, FR645/M, FR910XT, FR920XT, FR935, FR735XT, all Vivoactive, all Fenix (F5 and F5S report connectivity issues)
- Suunto – Suunto 9, all SPARTAN models, Ambit 2 & 3.
- Polar – V800, Vantage V & M
- Apple Watch – via STRYD iOS app
- 3rd party Samsung Gear apps (Yes) and WearOS apps (soon)
Any doubt? Detailed clarification at stryd.com
Pairing & Preparing to Run
This section looks at: putting STRYD on your shoe; pairing STRYD to your running watch; and configuring the display on your running watch for Suunto, Garmin & Polar.
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 slideshow further below, you can see how I put it on several of my shoes.
Precise shoe positioning appears not to be important. I have changed between shoes and not noticed any differences in readings based on different stack heights/cushioning and between different lace positions. I still seem to get consistent results.
Moving to the other foot CAN give different results depending on the degree of asymmetry to your running gait. Don’t do that!
I often use elasticated laces which tend to be too thick for the space available on a Garmin footpod. The STRYD Footpod 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. On the STRYD forum, I’ve seen a velcro-based solution to reduce the space.
After recharging, be REALLY sure that the STRYD Footpod is correctly re-inserted into the prongs on the cradle to avoid loss.
For first-time usage, ensure that your weight and height are set in the STRYD SMARTPHONE APP and synchronised to the STRYD pod.
Read all this fairly carefully as setup is not as simple as pairing a new HRM.
Quick Pairing Overview
Pairing by ANT+ to your Garmin or by Bluetooth SMART to the app on your smartphone is generally straightforward. As a rule-of-thumb, pair STRYD as a FOOTPOD.
- Polar Vantage V & M – just pair it
- Newer Garmins – do not NEED pairing but it’s best to pair as a footpod
- Suunto SPARTAN – pair AS A FOOTPOD (from 17 October 2017)
- Pairing to any other watch model eg Ambit 3 or 920XT/935/645M should be as a footpod.
- Pairing to the STRYD app – do this from within the app not the Bluetooth setting on your phone.
- Polar V800 – pair as a power meter
Broadly speaking; for newer Garmins, it is best to pair STRYD as a footpod so that you can also set STRYD to be a source of super accurate pace and distance. But as long as you have an active STRYD CIQ data field then you shouldn’t even need to pair STRYD to your Garmin as the data field will silently auto-pair to the STRYD Footpod (yup!).
Suunto: With AMBITs you pair as a POWERPOD and use in RUN mode (and it works GREAT).
With Polar you just pair as “other device” or, in the case of a Vantage, just pair it and you are good to go.
You can use the STRYD app on your smartphone too, of course, and you pair with the app.
If you are investing £/$200 in a running power meter, I would suggest you also invest in a watch that properly supports power indoors and outdoors ie it will DISPLAY and RECORD power. Have a look at these…
Pairing Quirks & Notes
If, like me, you have both the new and the old STRYD device you will see they have the same name (STRYD) but a different ANT ID. To avoid confusion, 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 with your STRYD smartphone app.
From the STRYD app, you might also want to optionally check that STRYD is set to cache data on the pod as you run – just in case. This enables another route for you to get your data sent through to the STRYD power centre dashboard AND for analysing some of the cleverer metrics which will not find their way into your 3rd party sports data platform.
Running Preparation – Garmin
If you have a more recent Garmin check compatibility here
With STRYD’s CIQ field active then you do NOT need to pair the device at all (yep!). However, my suggestion is to pair it as a FOOTPOD and then change the pairing setting to allow STRYD to ALWAYS be a source of pace/speed and distance. All will be good. Do it!
Use Garmin Express to download a STRYD data field from CIQ, or you can use Connect Mobile
Instead of downloading a CIQ data field, you could download STRYD’s CIQ app. The Stryd CIQ app, shown below, displays power and a few other metrics chosen by the STRYD team – that’s the quickest way to get started. The STRYD app effectively takes over the display on your screen.
Instead, I would recommend the ‘STRYD Power’ data field which you then manually configure to include in one of your Garmin’s ‘normal’ pages as a single data field.
Note that you configure the averaging performed by the ‘STRYD Power’ data field in Garmin Express (yes!). As also shown on the slideshow below; here you determine what ‘STRYD Power’ will show to you – be it ‘Real Time Power’ or one of several longer average power durations. I mostly use Real-Time Power and like its responsiveness to real-world changes in effort but there are perfectly sensible reasons for wanting to show the longer averages if that is how you choose to pace yourself.
The ‘Stryd Power’ data field ALSO AUTOMATICALLY RECORDS THE RAW, UN-AVERAGED POWER DATA into the FIT file…PRECISELY what you want it to do.
Note: For now you will have to perform your power averaging here in the data field as there are no inbuilt Garmin datafields that manipuate STRYD’s power figure ie it is DIFFERENT to bike power or running PACE. No other metrics are available. Garmin may well make this change in or after 2019. Another way of looking at it: Running power is NOT NATIVE to Garmin.
Running Preparation – Suunto (AMBIT, SPARTAN, and Suunto 9)
With Suunto, the situation is different and better than with Garmin in the sense that Running power is natively supported by the watch.
Pairing as a footpod is simple enough, you know how to do that.
Suunto Device Configuration MOVESCOUNT.COM
A sports profile/sports mode is configured in MOVESCOUNT but as running power is native to Suunto it is possible to display MANY running power averages simultaneously – here is one screen with 7 running power metrics. Just perhaps more than you might ever need. Perhaps. Maybe. OK, DEFINITELY MORE.
Suunto Device Configuration – Suunto App
This is the preferred way forwards for Suunto lookng through and beyond 2019
Running Preparation – Polar
Running with power with Polar’s V800 or either of the new Vantage models (V or M) is also super-easy as runngin power is native to Polar
For the V800 you pair as a power meter but you ‘just pair’ STRYD to either Polar Vantage model. You then configure your running profile/data screen via FLOW on the app or online and then run. The Vantage V ADDITIONALLY has its own version of running power with readings taken partly from wrist movements and GPS – as of 7 Jan2019, I’d use STRYD in preference to Polar’s native power. Whichever you use, your watch will use the same data fields.
Flow App Configuration
Flow Online Configuration
Polar also offers an interesting full-screen power display
Running With Power
Finally, you can get to run with STRYD!
Let’s look at some suggestions on how you can use POWER when running.
You can use POWER as a simple metric and base your training just on that. It is just a number on a linear scale after all.
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. Whilst you won’t be able to do the same time on that new & harder course you SHOULD be able to do the same average power level.
You can also mix up your training and get a new kind of PB/PR. A 5K average power PB – even though you might be slower on a harder course than your time-PB over the same distance. That sounds trivial but it mixes your training up a little and you will soon be getting excited about ‘breakthrough’ sessions where you hit a new power levels for different periods of time.
That concept hold true for any distance or any duration. There are lots of breaktrough-PBs to be had to keep th emotivation levels up.
Benefits of Running With Power
A discussion of running with power zones is beyond the scope of this review. There are books written on this subject and the best known is J Vance (2016). Jim Vance has allowed me to reproduce some of the book where he lists 14 benefits of using a running power meter which he says can be:
- Boost Your Training Specificity.
- A Running Power Can Improve Your Running Technique.
- Your Power Numbers Don’t Lie.
- Predict a Fitness Plateau.
- Monitor Injuries.
- Know Truly How Hard You’re Training.
- Better Recovery.
- Power Meters Offer Precision Tapering.
- Warm-Up Without Wasting Energy.
- Power-to-Weight Ratios.
- Speed per Watt.
- Is Your Training Working?.
- Pacing to Win.
- Know When to Open the Throttle.
Running With Power Zones (STRYD Review)
Most people would want a more rigorous approach based on different levels of power/durations that the body can bear. Running in these ‘zones’ will cause the body different physiological adaptations. If you are familiar with training by HR zones, then power zones are a broadly similar approach and the HR and power zones might broadly match each other.
Simplistically, 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? Regardless of the gradient? Thought not!
Even if you don’t look at your watch when running hard up a hill you can look at your stats afterwards to quantify your efforts. If it was a 30-second hill then I bet that both your HR and PACE stats for those 30 seconds are largely meaningless…but your power stats will be 100% meaningful (with some minor caveats on running form changes when doing hill reps).
As you know, if you pace by Heart Rate then you will know it’s difficult to answer this question, “How do you pace short 1-minute interval reps?” It will take your heart quite a while to get into the zone that properly reflects your effort. It will take the STRYD Footpod about 3 seconds…just saying. Indeed it might take several 1-minute INTERVALS for your heart to get into the right zone that reflects what your body is doing inside.
Determining Your Power Zones
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, supposedly, be estimated from a shorter effort.
- 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 that is 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.
- Vance and others give formulae for running power zone calculations that are subtly different from those for cycling power. So beware of using your cycling power spreadsheet.
- Pace Zones – there are various online running calculators. This is pretty cool 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 the last 20 minutes of 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. More so than many of you think..
This link shows includes a spreadsheet to determine your running power zones by ALL of the currently popular methods including STRYD, Palladino, Vance and Polar.
Alternative Methods of Determing CP: RunningByNumbers
My Running & Running Power Zones
Here’s what I did, which is probably scientifically flawed, but it’s what I did warts and all. Cunningly it includes near-Critical Power efforts over various durations…what do I know?
- Over a period of several weeks, I recorded all running power data including; reps, 5k, 10 miles and HM. Some of these included near-PB efforts.
- I looked at a CP power plot in Golden Cheetah (>=v3.4, it’s free & awesome, ) which told me their automatic calculation of my CP (FTP). The Zone Calculator, above, gives all the zones.
- Golden Cheetah updates CP with every breakthrough session – no more need for FTP/CP tests.
In my running, I use power alongside pace & HR for over-60-minute efforts for training and racing. When doing that kind of training I typically aim to stay in a zone rather than maintain a precise power/hr/pace value. In a race, I’d be looking to maintain a precise power/pace and checking my HR was playing ball.
Over 2018 I ventured more into using STRYD for much shorter and harder hill reps of 30-120 seconds where I am really using RPE with the occasional glance at POWER. However, I evaluate my performance based on power-durations after I’ve finished.
You could quite easily use STRYD’s power zones for most of your training.
As I have become more familiar with what power levels feel like then I use Running Power as a ‘sense check’ for pacing on gentle gradients too.
Running With Zone Alerts
It’s fine having power zones for analysis, training load and planning but using zones whilst you run is another matter. As of 7 January 2019, there is only a decent power alerting facility in the Garmin environment (via STRYD’s app). Polar is tantalisingly close with Zone Lock.
STRYD have released a Garmin CIQ app called Power Race. It’s pretty good. Essentially you use it to bypass Garmins inability to implement fully the power running metric in their watches. But at least Garmin gives 3rd party developers the opportunity to workaround that…unlike Polar and Suunto. Still, the PowerRace app is meant for races, as the name implies, it’s not so great for intervals but (kinda) can work.
Polar has separate Running Power Zones and a nice ZONE LOCK facility – unfortunately that does not yet work for RUNNING POWER – HOWEVER, with the release of the Vantage, this feature should be available in Q1-Q2.2019.
Suunto SPARTANs/Suunto 9 do not have power alerts but apparently, there are workarounds with earlier AMBITs “…create a long interval training in iPhone app with selecting power as metric. Watch vibrates than if you move out of selected power limit. Just put from zero on the lower limit and this does a job” Source @KUBA
Planning, Scheduling and Creating Running Power Workouts
This section dwells on one of the general areas where everyone needs to do more work so that STRYD can fit into a holistic training experience.
Broadly speaking it’s difficult or impossible on any platform to: perform on-the-fly intervals to power targets; create a complex, structured workout with power targets; schedule such a power workout onto the calendar for your watch to execute later. Some of this functionality is tied in with the Zone Alerts we talked about in the previous section (or general lack of them).
This is probably the area that will see most development through 2019.
Here are some examples that I will update periodically of things that do work. Ping me to update this in the comments below.
- https://www.finalsurge.com – it’s free and lets you create and schedule complex, structured workouts that your Garmin can later execute. Unlike Garmin Connect you CAN create an interval based on power. But there is no alerting on the watch if you stry from the intended power zone. In Q1-Q2.2019 Final Surge will be introducing Running Power plans where you can download the workouts to your Garmin and follow them (not with alerts tho)
- There are several coaches who have authored running power books, like this one from Coach Vance. I have that book and there are Zone-based plans in it from 5K to Marathon.
- You also get a plan with STRYD, like this
- Whilst STRYD’s powerrun app is great for racing at a constant intensity, it’s not so useful when running intervals but could, sort of, be used.
- On that note, I guess you could follow any Zone based plan and just use power zones rather than HR zones, assuming the zones are based on the same premise. Hmmm. Maybe. Perhaps.
- This whole area is going to probably see developments from TODAYSPLAN, TRAININGPEAKS, GARMINCONNECT and others in 2019.
Post-Run Power Analysis Options
You have to get the data from your watch (or app) to your chosen reporting and analysis platform. It’s straightforward for the more established platforms but moving data beyond Suunto, Polar, STRYD or Garmin’s own environment can be tricky.
General Data Connectivity – Links & Syncs
Moving running power data to a new data platform needs to be approached with a little caution. Running power is NOT UNIVERSALLY seen as an accepted running metric.
You can NOT assume that you will be able to get what you want, where you want it. ‘Running Power’ is not linked from all platforms to all other platforms even if other data might be properly linked. Plus intermediary data moving tools like TAPIRIIK, FITNESSSYNCER, SYNCMYTRACKS and even STRAVA may well not move Running Power data – there are lots of combinations of possible transfer routes and I’ve not checked every link and am nervous to generalise what will and will not work. Especially as this area is evolving.
Yet, the basics and most commonly used links ARE perfectly fine for most people.
You will have captured your data either on your sports watch and/or on your smartphone. With the more recent models of Garmin, Polar and Suunto, your POWER data on your watch will be automatically collected and then sync’d as normal with the watch’s host platform ie Garmin Connect, Polar FLOW or Suunto Movescount.
You can then set up STRYD PowerCenter to automatically collect your data and import from
- Garmin Connect
- Suunto (formerly from Movescount)
- Polar Flow
- STRYD App
STRYD PowerCenter can also be used as a staging post to send data to these analysis & planning platforms
- Today’s Plan
- Final Surge
- Training Peaks
* When I last checked, Running Power data was not sent to STRAVA when STRAVA is only linked to Garmin Connect. Technically it is sent but STRAVA now rejects it.
Analysis – Garmin Connect – STRYD Review
Garmin Connect is not too great for analysis. But it does give you a nice, quick view of your data, like this:
The lack of any further analysis in Garmin Connect, rightly, might entice you to visit PowerCenter for further insights as STRYD continue to introduce new features and power training programs. Garmin Connect and Suunto/Movescount will likely never have such functionality.
Don’t forget, PowerCenter also sync’s to Training Peaks
Analysis – Suunto (MOVESCOUNT) – STRYD Review
You can perform a little more analysis in Suunto (MOVESCOUNT) than is possible on Garmin Connect. But Suunto is still essentially a reporting/viewing platform for power and other data.
Of course, you can link Suunto/Movescount and GC directly to TP and you can import the FIT/TCX files from Suunto/Garmin directly into SportsTracks or Golden Cheetah. There are 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.
Analysis – Polar FLOW – STRYD Review
Polar has the best views of power data over the 3 major platforms. Whilst FLOW is NOT a full-blown analysis platform it CERTAINLY offers more power analysis than you will get from Garmin Connect or Suunto/MOVESCOUNT.
At the moment (Jan 2019), Polar allows the correct display of running power data in FLOW. But if you want to export power data anywhere else then you must do that manually by creating a TCX file. The TCX file IS then properly imported into, for example, Golden Cheetah and SportTracks. Polar FLOW has automatic links to STRAVA and TRAINING PEAKS but I have not checked if the power data is automatically sent there, I think for STRAVA it will not show running power data, although originally it used to.
clickable, Polar Flow with Power
Analysis – Golden Cheetah, TrainingPeaks, SportTracks PowerCenter
There are VERY MANY kinds of advanced analyses and insights to be gleaned from running with power. The analysis platforms mentioned in the title all offer analysis to varying degrees of awesomeness. STRYD’s PowerCenter is free. Golden Cheetah is free but the data analysis gets real complex, real quick. TrainingPeaks is well-known, comprehensive but comes at a price. SportTracks (desktop) is essentially free but requires minimal one-off cost plugins to get the desktop version up and running with power. SportTracks also has an online subscription service that might be worth checking out with the free trial they usually offer.
If you intend to train by power you should at some point familiarise yourself with a CP curve, like the following example images show. Once you get your head around logarithmic time scales and power durations rather than pace or speed over linear time scales, a CP curve WILL make sense and WILL be useful for many exciting evenings alone in front of your computer 🙂
For the cyclists: one thing I have personally found with running CP curves is that there is much less variation from the highs that can be achieved to lows of CPs over 60/90 minutes. Mainly because cycling supports your bodyweight. Thus running power curves are much flatter AND THE RUNNING ZONES MUCH NARROWER. Running CP curves also tend to be more ‘stepped’ from those I’ve seen.
STRYD have also introduced CP curves to their PowerCenter platform online. PowerCenter has some REALLY nice features but is a little temperamental at times on Internet Explorer/Safari (use Chrome). As shown below STRYD’s CP curve is MUCH more colourful and includes a clever heat map of all your efforts.
PowerCenter also includes new metrics to show you want kinds of training you need to be performing to help you towards your race goal. this is REALLY GREAT INSIGHT – ACTIONABLE too!
Other Running Power Software Analysis Options
- Stryd PowerCenter – Free
- Golden Cheetah – Free, open-source
- Final Surge – Free, includes POWER structured workout creation and scheduling
- Sporttracks (online)– Free trial, $35 per year subscription after
- TrainingPeaks – Free (Premium @$10/mo)
- WKO4 – $169
- Strive.ai – A great and straightforward tool to help you improve performances. It also alerts you to PEAK THRESHOLD breakthroughs and the like. It DOES work for STRYD via the iOS app and Garmin Connect even though strive is STRAVA-focussed.
- Xertonline.com is a very interesting platform and turns FTP/CP on its head, looking at it from a different perspective. They ‘know’ what maximum power you have available at any given moment and your efforts are quantified and guided by that knowledge. I use it for my cycling power stats but, unfortunately, it can’t handle run AND bike stats. So you either need two accounts or just a running account if you want to give STRYD a go. (Xert stuff from me here)
Example Run – Running Up a Hill
Kate Bush could certainly run up that hill but how well can you and I do it in practice? This STRYD Review made me take a look.
Let’s run up my favourite hill in stats.
For me, running on the flat, it seemed that 300w was somewhere close to 3:50/km. So I endeavoured to maintain 300w for the near flat at the bottom of the hill and the same power up the hill and then over the crest of the hill.
To give you an idea of the hill; if you were running DOWN this hill it’s one of those where you have to let go and hope, it’s shortish and steepish. If you were going up it on an otherwise flat run it would rank as ‘short but unpleasant’. It was about 2 and a half minutes long at this speed and gaining 30 vertical metres.
The change (drop) in speed required to hold 300w was considerable. From somewhere around 4:00/km at the start the steepest and hardest part of the hill had me going at 6:00/km. OK, I was trying to focus on a watch and run and maintain effort so the numbers bounced about a bit. You can see that the orange power line is vaguely flat varying from 300w+/-15w (5% or so).
I would say 4 things about this
- This is broadly indicative of the sort of thing that the STRYD Footpod can tell you ie you should probably be running a LOT slower up hills if you want to maintain a constant effort
- As with cycling what I have noticed is that people can regulate efforts WITHOUT A POWER METER quite well for half of the hill or so. But, with the end in sight, people often tend to up the effort even more (when they are already going faster than they should). Typically they make it to the top before you and then grin. They’re grinning because they beat you but they have taken a lot out of themselves. In a hilly race, you WILL catch people like this, of a similar ability, after a few hills. YOU tend to power smoothly over the apex and keep the same effort going.
- You can use HR for this but, with a 30 second or so, lag it’s not quite as effective.
- Running by RPE/feel works if you are ‘at one with yourself’. Typically we aren’t! and, as pointed out on the second point, the competitive urge often kicks in.
Hill Pacing Strategy in the STRYD Review
Generally, in a ‘time trial’ on the flat and in ideal conditions, where it is you against the clock, the best strategy is to aim for your critical power for the likely duration.
However, if you are racing other people or if there are hills then the reality is that you will need to exceed your target critical power at times. Your ‘normal’ training is likely to be sufficient to allow some variation around your critical power. However, if you expect to encounter LOTS of hills in your race then you will need to reflect that in your training. I suppose that is stating the obvious. But the point I would like to make here is that power metrics can cover these types of scenarios/issues if you really get into running/cycling with power.
Other power metric exist for this like NGP:avgpower but they are out of scope here.
Special STRYD Running Form Metrics
Many/most casual runners neglect consideration of their running form. One of the points of those long slow miles is to increase your aerobic efficiency BUT also to increase the efficiency of your FORM AND ALSO to reduce the risk of injury.
There are probably some relatively quick gains to be made here with aerobic training 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.
STRYD adds the new metrics of Leg Spring Stiffness (LSS) and Form Power (FP) to existing ones of vertical oscillation (VO), cadence, and ground contact time (GCT/GT).
- 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.
- GCT: Is the amount of time your foot is on the ground, try to lower it
- VO: Is how much you bounce, try to lower it.
The metrics probably don’t tell you what you are doing wrong and how to improve it, instead, they will probably gradually improve over time as you train more (and as you get faster!).
Note well: Plyometrics, strength work, anaerobic intervals including VO2max intervals are all likely to help improve your form over time. Do those…or just keep plodding along in zone 3 – your call.
It is possible to experiment and attempt to change your form slightly whilst running at a constant pace – for example, on a treadmill. If you find your power DROPS when you change your technique on a treadmill (and the pace is the same) then, in theory, you might have found a way to increase your running form efficiency. It might be worth experimenting but I am not entirely convinced by that argument.
With the arrival of RunScribe Plus Power, Polar Power and Garmin Running Power I am somewhat disappointed that these power measures simply do not tally – AT ALL. They will probably never tally. You can’t scale one to the other. Have a look at this.
COMPARISON IS FUTILE.
But I tried comparisons regardless! Just for you 😉 Actually, I tried comparisons quite a few times and proved to myself that you just can’t compare these different technologies. Although perhaps more importantly if you switch from one to the other then your historical data will become instantly meaningless. That’s one reason why I won’t switch from STRYD as, to me, it seems to best reflect my true effort
STRYD have their own validations and have stats to demonstrate their accuracy against true metabolic cost. Naturally, the vendors all have such information to some degree.
STRYD claim that their product produces power data that DOES correlate to a true metabolic cost measured by VO2max. It’s a convincing argument and they have, in my mind, convincingly refuted all studies to the contrary – see the STRYD Blog -and see the first comment, below.
Alternatives to STRYD
I’ve just mentioned that there are other technologes out there (with more to come).
Since Q4.2018 RunScribe PLUS has their dual-sided RUNNING POD working live with Suunto and Garmin CIQ.
Also in Q4.2018 Polar announced their own Power Calculations from the WRIST on the Vantage V. Both Vantage V & M still support STRYD.
Garmin announced ‘Garmin Running Power‘ formally in Q4.2017. I don’t see this ever being a viable alternative to STRYD as a ‘pro’ training tool. The Garmin power figures are partly derived from GPS pace and are thus highly variable. You could use a footpod to improve accuracy but then what is the most accurate footpod? A: STRYD. Go figure.
There are alternatives for looking at your running form including stats and feedback from Runscribe Plus, LUMO Body, Garmin’s HRM-RUN, SHFT, Runteq’s ZOI and others. Indeed SHFT (reviewed here) also produces power but only within the confines of their app.
These two tables list the headline differences between 3 of the 4 major Running Power players. As you can see STRYD and RunScribe will work on most of your existing watches.
More explanation of this chart here, link to: the5krunner.com.
Adding in Polar’s own power calculations, this table compares the pros and cons of the 4 major running with power solutions. Overall STRYD probably wins if you ignore cost but you might have a specific need or preference for one of the other solutions.
STRYD vs Garmin Footpod
I have several Garmin footpods and used to use them a lot before the arrival of STRYD. If you think STRYD is over-priced then Garmin’s footpods are also over-priced at $70 for what they are.
- A Garmin footpod does not supply RUNNING POWER data and nor does it provide more unutual running gait metrics that you find in STRYD. Having said that the Garmin footpod can be used as a source of pace for Garmin Running Power and that will improve the accuracy of Garmin’s power calculation somewhat.
- STRYD is more accurate than a Garmin footpod for pace and distance.
- Other than your height and weight, STRYD requires no calibration
- Garmin footpods effectively require calibration at each pace you intend to run at. You don’t have to do that but you will lose accuracy if you do not. On the other hand, the Garmin footpod will still improve and stablise pace when compared to pace from a Garmin GPS device.
- The Garmin Footpod has a coin cell battery with a long battery life.
- Both are a broadly similar size, weight and mounting method.
- Garmin’s pod is only ANT+, STRYD is BLE and ANT+. STRYD can thus provide pace/distance/cadence to Zwift Run, whereas Garmin would need an additional ANT+ BLE dongle to do that.
- Garmin also makes the RD-POD which has running dynamics and this is particularly intended to companion a modern Garmin watch with an oHRM. I’m not sure of the accuracy of the RD-POD. MY gut feeling would be that accuracy is poorer than the regular Garmin pod.
Interesting Points, Tips and Issues
Here are some points to consider.
- SUPER accurate running pace from STRYD has now been independently verified by other reviewers and STRYD owners almost all say it is the most accurate
- Power averages are taken over 5 steps or about 10 seconds
- No calibration is required. Enable auto-calibration and always being used as a source of pace and distance if your watch allows that setting.
- As of April 2017 pod calibration has just been introduced on SPARTANs.
- As of Jun 2017 manual (and automatic), pod calibration is possible with Polar’s V800. I’ve only used automatic.
- You can calibrate for pace through the STRYD app on your smartphone. I would suggest calibrating in ideal conditions for GPS reception.
- Unlike Garmin footpods, shoe type/stack/drop or running speed do not seem to affect calibration.
- Footpod devotees might want to look at fellrnr’s footpod calibration tool but I do not think that calibration makes much difference and I see no need to do that.
- Unlike STRYD’s earlier chest strap model, you can now use STRYD in a triathlon alongside your HRM-TRI and bike power meter which respectively records all the lovely HR stuff for swimming and cycling power when cycling.
- STRYD’s standard wireless charger is nice as there are no batteries or holes on the STRYD to let water seep in. I’ve heard that other wireless chargers will also charge STRYD.
- The LED blinks twice for a new connection or disconnection. A faster blink means ‘charge it now’ or more precisely:
- Low battery: The LED will double blink every second. Place the device on the charger.
- Bluetooth Connections: The LED will double-blink when (dis-)connected to/from. This does not apply to ANT+.
- Power-on: When placing a fully discharged unit on the charger, it will power-on and there will be five short blinks in quick succession during the power on sequence.
- STRYD report their footpod device to better reflect real power levels compared to the chest strap STRYD when measured in their labs. Anecdotally I agree as do other reviewers/runners elsewhere on the net.
- STRYD handles thick elasticated laces, unlike other footpods. Looping through 3 or 4 lengths is recommended
- Internally the footpod is known as the STRYD SUMMIT – now you know. The chest strap was called STRYD PIONEER.
- Data metrics are broadcast over both ANT+ and Bluetooth SMART channels. Multiple, simultaneous pairings are possible.
- When running UPHILL you will find that you have to run a LOT slower than you would imagine maintaining a constant effort. Even if you have a target power you might still want to go slightly over that target (5%) when going uphill in a race.
- When running UPHILL you will probably find that is when you can produce the most power ie more than when running super fast on the flat. Generally, many people find that true in cycling too. Hill reps are a good way to increase your power whilst also improving your technique AND whilst having a lower risk of injury than speedy reps on the road.
- Many of the metrics are the same or similar to other devices (HRM-RUN and Runscribe). I have compared them here, here and elsewhere on this blog.
- The unit weighs less than 10g and is fully rechargeable giving 20-30 hours of running time. It leaves battery saving mode when your running CADENCE is detected. A 2018 firmware update prevented STRYD’s battery being topped up, this was to extend the overall life of STRYD’s battery.
- STRYD is 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)
- STRYD 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 on their app. When pairing with the app the first thing in the list should be the closest.
- The new and old STRYD devices provide power readings that MIGHT be comparable, especially if you calibrated the v1 PIONEER device. I didn’t do the calibration and get a sense that the new footpod readings are lower for me.
- Moving STRYD from shoe-to-shoe is mildly inconvenient. That’s why I have 3x Garmin footpods. But 3x STRYDs would be a considerable investment, especially if/when STRYD move to dual-sided power.
- To me, STRYD seems to slightly underestimate power when running downhill (Edit: this was modified in a firmware fix a looong time ago)
- The charging light goes off when STRYD is fully charged and sitting on the charger. I am not always sure if the device is properly placed on the charger. Is it charged or not? That’s one element of functionality this STRYD Review would like to see improved.
- 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 with the STRYD app.
- AMBIT Tip: Get pace and distance from STRYD. Then set GPS accuracy to the lowest level (as it will be overridden by STRYD). That will extend your battery life.
- SPARTAN Tip: pair as a FOOTPOD from 17 October 2017 onwards – delete the old pairing first, just in case.
- Calibration Tip: Don’t bother trying to configure it on your watch! Just set your weight correctly on the app and sync that through to STRYD. You will probably spend a long time trying to manually calibrate for VERY little if any, improvement.
- DATA RECOVERY TIP: Embarrassingly I once forgot my watch for a race. Embarrassingly I also got a PB/PR If you have caching enabled via the app then you will at least be able to recover your power data after the race. That’s one tip this STRYD Review can quietly pass on 😉 Ssssh.
- Whilst the STRYD pod is a good size, the charger is definitely on the big side.
- The STRYD v1 chest strap is no longer sold. Even STRYD Lite (pace only footpod) has been discontinued
- Battery life is about 15 hours (officially 20) which is good for most running needs except those of ULTRA runners. It seems to re-charge quickly, although I’ve never timed it. Charging ‘on-the-run’ is not really practical.
- The wireless charger does away with the need for a potentially unreliable micro USB port whilst also making waterproofing STRYD seemingly easy for the designers.
- STRYD absolutely DOES take into ground conditions AND slope. It is not the same as Grade Adjusted Pace. Although there are obvious similarities.
- Whilst STRYD does take ground conditions into account it will not do so at the extremes. ie if you are either running on ice or running through mud then you (will fall over) get incorrect readings
- STRYD does not take into account wind. Garmin attempts to and their approach is well-intentioned (but rubbish in most scenarios)
- STRYD does work on treadmills. Make sure you input the INCLINE into the STRYD app. It’s best, therefore, to record the workout on the app in that scenario.
In my opinion Running Power will grow in popularity significantly through 2019 and beyond. There may be more new entrants but, just like with cycling power meters, accuracy will be the issue for new entrants.
STRYD’s product range will be significantly developed over the coming years on the back of significant outside VC investment.
- The most likely development is dual-sided power and accompanying duplicate/aggregate versions of the existing metrics.
- Perhaps even more improvements to accuracy
- After that perhaps a device to take into account wind.
- Perhaps then also an improved chest strap to incorporate body motion metrics
- Work will continue to expand on the wealth of power insights on the STRYD data platform (online+app)
New entrants will drive innovation.
The key to success for a new entrant are: 3rd party validation; full Garmin CIQ data field compatability; triathlon-ready; built within a long-lasting product format.
Don’t expect this market to evolve like cycling power meters. Cycling power meters essentially all strive for the same ‘correct’ power figure. Cycle Power is a more mechanically derived figure upon which there is general agreement as to what is ‘correct’.
Note well: Running power will NOT be like that. So I would expect that you will NOT be able to switch between technologies as the numbers will be different. This was true for STRYD going from their chest strap to their footpod.
- Competitor.com have good look at a 2:16:00 marathoner’s race power.
- RECOMMENDED: STRYD’s own White Paper about their new metrics is a good sports-science based read for those of you looking at that type of training you need to do to improve.
- STRYD’s Critical Power Test
- In 2018 STRYD produced the Running With Power Manual, this is more of a ‘how to train with power’ document than a ‘functions and features’ document. So it’s worth a look for power newbies.
- For a technical review of STRYD’s running power model, you will need to head over to Ron George’s site if you want to talk about GOVSS, EESA and STRYD.
As at Jan2019 I would note the following:
- There are unsolvable issues with the Garmin Fenix 5 and Fenix 5s (just those two models NOT the 935 and not the 5X and not the PLUS models). The issue is that the Fenix 5 and 5S are unable to always receive some ANT+ signals including those of STRYD. I think it’s true of STAGES and others too. These issues are hardware dependent at the Garmin end and not able to be changed.
- As of 16 December, 2018 – the PLUS version of the Fenix 5 are all cool. Buy those with confidence.
- SportTracks desktop does not seem to like importing power from a Garmin Fit files from directly on the watch. The workaround is to get running power data into SportTracks 3.1 (Desktop) is to export a FIT file from STRYD’s power centre. That then imports correctly into SportTracks. (Fit File Repair Tool would also likely sort it out if you don’t want to use PowerCentre). Alternatively, use OMB’s tool to import the FIT file and then manually copy power from the CIQ field to ST3.1’s standard power field. #PITA Apparently SportTracks.mobi works well with running power.
- STRAVA has disabled Running Power support
Summary & Further Comments
In this STRYD Review we’ve found that STRYD is 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, actionable and sufficiently open across all the key vendor platforms.
STRYD is 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, Golden Cheetah or other 3rd party platforms.
- The Garmin environment is mostly good-to-go with STRYD – providing you get a CIQ-enabled watch. Expect further Garmin improvements in 2019.
- Polar’s environment is good to go with the V800 and Vantage models. Expect improvements in 2019.
- Suunto’s Spartan and 9 watches now work nicely with STRYD
- Running with the STRYD app to get data to STRYD PowerCenter is also perfectly sensible for those of you who carry smartphones
- STRYD works with the Apple Watch
- STRYD works on Samsung
- STRYD will soon work on WearOS (ping me below for details if this is not updated. After 7Jan2019)
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.
STRYD give actionably-accurate instant pace figures. Other reviewers and runners now generally agree.
STRYD’s 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.
In this STRYD Review we found a relatively expensive but useful accessory – especially for a data-driven runner/triathlete or even for those endurance runners who feel the need to gain a competitive edge on non-flat ground.
Is it worth updating your watch to this year’s model to get 5 new features that you won’t use OR is it best to, instead, get new and more accurate data that might provide additional benefits above what you currently have? ie Don’t upgrade your watch…buy a STRYD!
For what it’s worth: I use it. I like it.
Price, Availability & Discount Code
ALTERNATIVES: Some other running systems claim to produce power. The only ones worth considering as of Jan 2019 are RunScribe Plus (pod), Polar Vantage V (watch) and Garmin Running Power (app)
I partner directly with STRYD in the USA and their distributor New Running Gear in the EU. Clicking on the images below takes you through to whatever current deal on STRYD there is at any given time in the USA/Canada. Thank you! Sometimes STRYD is sold on Amazon, so that link is there as well.
Supporters: I am not a salaried journalist and rely on support from readers to keep the free content coming. If you want to support the work here then ad-free subscription starts at 49p (about 65c). I am absolutely NOT sponsored by STRYD to write any of this in any way but buying anything from any of my partners helps support this blog and may also get you a great discount. Thank you!
|Support with 10% code: the5krunner10||Support at your local country’s Amazon storefront||Support with 10% code: the5krunner10|
Awesome running power tool to help race pacing, efficiency and injury prevention
- Apparent Accuracy
Footpod broadcasting running power, distance and speed
If you want accurate instant pace then STRYD delivers. If you want actionable power to manage your efforts over varying terrain or to give you post-workout insights then STRYD delivers. Great compatability with Garmin via CIQ and native support from Suunto and Polar. Smartphones, Samsung Watches & Apple Watch also supported via apps. No need to calibrate for running at different paces as with other footpods.