Over the past year running has taken a turn for the future. In the past, running has consisted of lacing up the shoes, starting your watch, and tracking your mileage via logs with duration and distance covered. While I will always have a special place in my heart for traditional runners for their tenacity and overall low maintenance, I would be ignorant to not suggest that the new technology (power meters) would help them.  For the sake of this blog, I will refer to the STRYD power meter as we have partnered with them as a coaching business and I have first hand experience both looking at data and utilizing the device myself. I hope after reading this you’ll have a better understanding of how this technology could help you.

Traditional Runners
Over the past several months I have been flooded with questions of “why do I need this”? As I noted, I have a fond liking for pure runners as they can get out the door and go run without needing all the latest and greatest features. While I applaud that, I do believe that the STRYD should make its way into the pure runners arsenal.

The reason for this suggestion is because the STRYD has the ability to make you better. In terms of weight or added “bling”, its simply a foot pod that just sits on the top of your shoe. When running with it you can’t even feel it on your shoe. Along with not being able to notice it on your shoe, it gives runners the ability to consistency measure biomechanics in a way that no other device has before. For any pure runner, while they love just getting outside and being free, they also tend to like getting faster if possible. This new technology will only help to speed up the process of getting fast for any runner and therefore I would ask traditionalists to read about it before turning their head to it.

This is the future. When running with a STRYD the amount of data that you can log is equivalent to spending an entire day in the exercise physiology lab which could cost you hundreds. The best part about this device is that you get to use it day after day to track change and its all available for roughly $200. So what are some of the metrics that you can track?

Running Power: Will measure your power in horizontal, lateral, and vertical planes. This data will show if you are utilizing most of your energy to move forward, or if you are wasting energy swinging side to side or jumping too high with each stride.  Essentially, we can do a run form analysis now from anywhere.

Running Effectiveness: How much power are you putting out for a given speed (pace). Are you generating a ton of power but not going anywhere, we can dig into the metrics and figure out where the disconnect is.

Leg Stiffness: With each step you take we can measure the stiffness of your leg. There is a strong correlation between leg stiffness and running economy. We know that the more mechanical energy you use (treating your legs as springs) the less metabolic energy you have to use. If we see low leg stiffness we can put training remedies in place to work on this metric and therefore overall running economy.

Max Force: This is a fun one for any athletes that find themselves injured often. Is there a correlation of high force and running injury? Does this metric show flaws in other metrics? Can you start to train differently and reduce your odds of injury?  This is still to be seen but the metric is being measured with every step.

Ground Contact/Flight Time: This is something that you’ve been able to track before but it’s good to see this in comparison with Leg Stiffness and running power/effectiveness.  How does your stride rate reflect on your stiffness or effectiveness? Are you running effectively at 175 steps per minute or 180 steps per minute?  We can begin to get very detailed in our analysis of your run form and stride.

Power: While running with power can be utilized in training and with precision for intensities, its true magic happens on race day. If you have a threshold run power you can sustain for a set duration then you know how to properly pace an event.  If you are looking for a PR on a 10k and know that your 10k threshold for power is 300 watts, you know how to start the first mile so you don’t crash and burn at the finish. Same thing can be noted for courses with elevation. We know you’ll run slower on an incline, but due to being able to measure vertical power we can still pace it properly and not burn matches for later in the race chasing only a pace goal.

And Many More:  There are a countless number of metrics I’m not going to dive into because it’s still young and I’m still becoming familiar with the data and how to best utilize other metrics for each individual.

The Future
Just like cycling power meters, it’s going to take some time for runners and triathletes to buy in. However, in the next 5-10 years I would expect running world records to crumble and power meters to be on the shoes of every runner. While people get so worked up about going to get tested at a lab, this device is the lab that can be worn everyday. It’s the lab that can be taken everywhere with every pair of shoes and track real world results.

Cycling vs Running Power Meters
Its important to note that running and cycling are very different. One shouldn’t look at their power training on a bike and treat power run training the same way.  On a bike you are in a fixed position with power only measuring the force it takes to turn the pedals/cranks/wheel.  Beyond that, every cyclist falls within a range of how efficient they are at pedaling a bike. In contrast to this, a world class runner and a slow 5k’er may both have a race value of 350 watts, however, how effective each runner was at utilizing that power for forward motion could be drastically different. With that note, it’s very important that we don’t let athletes make the mistake of thinking that higher power is the only goal of a running power meter. While higher power is nice, we are looking for the most efficient use of power in running.

I have no doubt that this mistake will be made many times over the next few years. However, now that you have read this blog and can see that the two sports and devices are different, you will be able to guide the public in understanding that they aren’t the same thing. If used as the same, athletes will become overtrained and Injury will happen down the road.

The technology that is available to the mass public is exactly what the pros and world champions are using now. While you may be a traditionalist or novice, this technology will still help you in measuring how effective you are and possibly showing you when injury may occur. For all runners that are serious about performance, there is no better way to train at this current time. I promise you that if you went to the Olympic Training Center to train and were in a lab everyday you would think it was the coolest thing. This device is a lab and you can do it from home! Find a coach that knows how to analyze this information and start running better and more efficiently this year. This technology isn’t going anywhere, it’s best that you get ahead of the curve and start training with power.