10 Reasons To Use Running Power
I hear ya. Pace is king.
The thing is, I’ve used POWER for bike training for many years now; in more recent years, I’ve used POWER for running too. Yet, like most of you, I initially started maxxing my attention to sporting stats on pace and HR albeit to varying degrees. After a while, I came to know their limitations and they were pretty good metrics to train with, so I was initially VERY sceptical of Running Power both in terms of how it’s calculated and how actionable it was. To cut a 5-year long story short, if I’m running anything longer than 3-minute intervals then I will use power to some degree ie when I’m planning a run, when I’m running and also when I look at my stats afterwards. It mostly works. I’m a convert.
HEADS UP: There are two broad algorithm types for determining RUNNING POWER and there is no accepted ‘correct’ figure, although STRYD has produced whitepapers showing that their product does tie to the metabolic cost calculation method. I don’t know if the running power products measure Watts or Whatevers but, in my experience, STRYD power appears to be a good proxy for effort, it’s actionable.
Before we get onto the Top 10 reasons to use running power, let’s look at the more general areas where running power can help, and if you’re also a cyclist with a power meter you can stop reading now as the benefits of running with power are pretty much identical those from cycling with power. These are the 3 general areas:
- Preparing for and planning a run – So here we are looking at creating a structured workout or following a 3rd party plan. This is the area where more developments are needed on the sports software platforms.
- Executing a training run or race – There are a few aspects that can be improved here, generally, you’re good to go with most of the features you have for HR/Pace if they are also available for Running Power.
- Quantifying and analysing your runs and the insights that can be derived from that – Power is power and so the cycling power tools will mostly work with running power unless they get confused between your running and cycling power values, STRYD‘s Power Center is awesome too.
- Run at the correct levels on non-flat ground
- Run at the correct levels on surfaces of varying types
- STRYD does this, Garmin Running Power partly so, Apple not at all) Run at the correct levels in wind (
- More correctly model your short- and long-term abilities based on a Critical Power curve that takes into account your abilities over sprint, threshold and long durations.
- Get a PB: As the drafting effect is minimal, your best race time will likely come from an evenly powered effort.
- Ego-boosting numbers you can brag about to your mates – “my FTP/CP is higher than yours” or “my w/kg is higher than yours“. (I’d never do this, but apparently, some people do 😉 )
- Your training zones will hopefully change for the better. Quantifying and automatically adjusting for this is much easier with the maths behind power than pace. The performance triggers to update power zones are certainly easier to detect and understand than updating HR zones. I use automatically updating power zones for both running (Stryd) and cycling (Garmin).
- Understand your training load (1) – quantify the work you have done in each session. Equally, you can use HR but load based on HR can be skewed by, say, temperature or caffeine.
- Understand your training load (2) – Understanding the impact of your work on your ability to run fast NOW and in the future AND on the ever-changing balance between CTL/fatigue and ATL/fitness. This one thing can be an eye-opener to explain your good and not-so-good performances. Once you understand when YOU perform best you can plan for it next time around. This is equally as possible with HR or power, much less so with PACE-based training.
- More easily quantify and control tapering strategies.
OK, there are more.
- Identify plateauing performances (then train differently)
- Easily p
- Control uphill/downhill variation – for a variety of reasons you will likely want to use slightly more power going uphill. Quantify with NP:Power ratio.
- Using a model like Xert MAP or W’ when you are racing, you should be able to understand your anaerobic reserves at any point in a race ie how much juice is left in your physiological tank
- Quantify the effects of drafting (albeit minimal, only STRYD)
- Running Power is not exclusive. You can use it alongside pace and/or HR. It’s another tool for your training and racing kit bag.
There are some controversial points there, I’m happy to elaborate in the comments.
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