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Stryd Review – Running in the 21st Century – TitaniumGeek

I have already touched briefly on the Stryd device with my preview post, but this is a completely new device, which has taken a little time to understand. I dont think anyone, probably not even Stryd themselves, will fully appreciate the possibilities of the Stryd device until it has been “out in the wild” for longer, and more research and work with sports coaches/teams is complete. However people are now receiving their Kickstarter devices through the post, so I think its time for my Stryd review update!

Using Stryd takes some getting your head round. We are so used to running to pace or set heart rates, that if I’m hones, Stryd just doesnt seem to work INITIALLY. Its another metric on your wrist…more importantly a metric that just doesnt seem to gel with your others… Then suddenly it clicks!

“Getting” the Stryd device

The “click” seems to come when you just give up on doing any form of meaningful run, and just say “Screw it!!! I’m going to switch everything else off, I’m going to target X watts and see what happens!” – I chose 325watts, as that’s a little more than I’ve been averaging over the last 2 months when running with Stryd, and also just above my 299FTP for cycling. (This all sounds a little bit pessimistic so far doesn’t it!? – Hear me out!!)

I have a little 3.6km loop around a local housing estate that I use when its dark (I don’t like running on the country lanes in the dark in the winter, monsters which live in my imagination are clearly going to get me! ?) So decided to head off round the estate one evening. It is a well run route, with about 5 Strava segments which are moderately hotly contested in the village.

Stryd Review

Unfortunately due to the way that Stryd was working AT THAT TIME, the “Run” had to be uploaded to Strava as a “Ride” and then converted back. As a result it doesnt automatically show your performance of segments in terms of cups and KOM’s. Thus when your activity first uploads to Strava, all you get is the times it took to complete the segments, no cups etc.

(This MAY have been resolved for some devices – particularly Gamein IQ capable devices, and the Fenix 3 specifically, which I’ll come to in a moment)

The issue with the conversion from ride to run meant I didn’t initially twig my results… By just running to a power target, not a speed or pace target, I was able to knock 5 secs off a segment, taking the KOM! If you look at the above graph, as a result of keeping a set power, I’ve had some variability to pace, but a really nice smooth HR rise.

The Strava KOM I’d taken, I was REALLY surprised at, as I’d been trying to snatch that segment back for a few weeks without success…but crucially on this occasion, I was able to take the KOM WITHOUT particularly trying! I’m not saying Stryd gave me wings, I’m saying using power changed how I ran that segment.

By just keeping to a constant power, I wasn’t pushing as hard a usual on the hills, so not having the slight pace dip a the top, meaning me energy was more smoothly released across the run, giving an overall faster time. I think this is borne out looking at my heart rate, with the nice smooth rise, which then stays around 88% of max.

By Strava can only say so much, so we move over the Stryd own web system to look at the power data

Power centre analysis

The Stryd Power Centre shows a little power creep during the run, but the heart rate is showing a nice gradual rise

Stryd review

The grey line is elevation, and I think this is where the Stryd Power training really comes into its own. Normally hills and elevations affect your speed, naturally, however by keeping a tight power target, you speed is allowed to change, but your output remains the same. Which similarlly kept a tighter control on my heart rate, and resulted in a new KOM record, which I was REALLY surprised at!

NB the sudden drop off on the graph is as I stopped to adjust my knee strap at the bottom of the hill! – I’ll be doing a medical series on knee pain later

Stryd review

I think that using power is going to be very good for consistent performance across an event. I’ll be very interested to see the Stryd device used competitively on something like an outdoor, hilly 10km. Where, using the above method, I’d expect paced runners to overtake you on hills, but catch them overall – I need to do more testing clearly!

Take it to the hills!

It’s in the hills, when you get a decoupling between power and speed, that you can really see how the Stryd device will become useful. During my time with Stryd, I also went running in Derbyshire. Derbyshire is basically one large series of hills.

Stryd review

So I found the largest hill I could in Belper, my home town, and ran up it! Here is the bottom

Stryd review

Half way up, at which point my legs are far from happy. Given I’ve been aiming about 300watts-ish previously

Stryd review

Finally, looking back down on the mill town of Milford

Stryd review

I also made sure that I ran on a series of different types of terrain during the run/jog to see what if any effect it had on the Stryd device.

So along the way I encountered; sand, loam, obviously tarmac and cobbles

Stryd reviewStryd review

Stryd reviewStryd review

During this run, I was just “out for a jog”. So at first glance, the data looks all over the place, and not really very useful. Part of that is because I wasn’t using Stry’s power output, I was just running.

Stryd review

However, if you know where I was, you suddenly can tell that the surface you are running on does seem to matter.

Stryd reviewMy power is much more consistent on tarmac (Blue boxes), where as when off road, the power tends to fluctuate more. Due to the nature of the run, there are lots of pauses as I stopped to take photos, which also impact on the graph.

After the run

Based on my 2 months of using Stryd, it appears that, like cycling, running to a power, rather than a speed target is a more efficient way to run! On my focused use of power, I turned out a faster time, for apparently less exertion.

BUT as you can see for the “general jog” around Derbyshire, the data is very variable. Do the degree I’d question it’s use. When I go for a run, or cycle, no matter what I’m doing, there is always some information I can take from the data. The same can be true from Stryd…but I’m not sure how useful that data is just “as is”.

What is clear though is that Stryd is EXCELLENT for training, probably for pacing during events as well, but you need to go through a change in how you perceive your “on the run” metrics. You are aiming for consistency now, across the whole run, fast consistency, but still consistency is seems. Not merely keeping an average split below a set point, as you know that split will slip on the the hills. With Stryd it looks like you are going to try and maintain that same power on the hills too – I’m very interested to learn more about using Stryd data and it might transpire that this impression isnt the best way to train with Styrd. Maybe for races we’ll look to ramping of power, I dont know we’ll have to wait and see!

However, this does raise the point again about the unknowns of running to power data. I plucked a target of 325watts out of the air. I don’t, well didn’t at the time, have a feeling for how running power correlates to speed and most importantly (?) segment times. I know I need to hit 5:00 per KM if I’m on a steady 25min KM. I think that Stryd will be really useful for training when we have data and targets like that figured out

Getting your data

As mentioned before, it’s a shame for many devices you have to use the cycling features on your watch to use Stryd, as the cycling sections tend to have power meter metrics which the running section dont. Stryd have managed to address this with the Garmin Fenix 3, using the Garmin Connect IQ apps. As the Fenix 3, Epix, and 920XT all now use “apps” rather than running/cycling modes, it means other apps, and also data screens, can be installed. As such Stryd have created an IQ data screen for their running power meter, for these devices.

By using the Stryd “app” it allows you to see all the metrics from the device, but for some reason the current version of the Stryd app is still not showing power whilst running ? This is what it is supposed to look like!

Stryd review

Hopefully there will be similar work rounds for other manufacturers soon!

Follow up on Stryd Preview

A few points to come out from my preview that need to be addressed

The first  “How does Stryd work…surely its just a heart rate monitor with some fancy software inside? …NO

Although Stryd measures heart rate, Stryd’s power measurement is totally independent of heart rate and responds rapidly to changes in effort. Stryd included heart rate measurement as a aid to athletes who train with heart rate, so that they can incorporate power into their regimen. Heart rate has nothing to do with the power measurements – Yup I was surprised at that one!

I thought that there was a reset button on Stryd units:

Stryd review

This is not a button – DONT POKE IT WITH A PIN!!! Especially so as this is a breathable membrane that allows air into the device, but also keeps the device sealed from sweat and water

“What about running FTP tests?”

Yup that’s now a thing. Stryd have both a 3 minute and a 9 minute critical power test now, so you can see how your legs are improving in terms of simple power measurements, rather than just a 2km dash.

This was originally discussed on the “Stryd on Air” podcast from the company

Thinking outside the box

One aspect of using the Stryd device I have found very interesting is a reduction in knee pain. My RIGHT knee aches. The actual confirmation of the diagnosis is still pending (This will form the basis for a series of posts about knee pain in running and cycling) but one way I’ve always described the issue when running is that “I can run my knee off”. I.e. If I stay ABOVE a certain pace, about 4:30min/km then I can run for longer. Conversely, if I’m pushing for a 20min 5km, I’ll probably be stopping shortly after due to discomfort.

This MAY be due to effort, and force through the joint, thus I’m finding capping power on a run allows me again to run further still without pain, but still put in reasonable times.

Rachel Zambrano in her Stryd Pioneer post talks in more details about the running training aspect of the Stryd device. But also she raises an interesting point about whether footwear and surface e.g. Concrete is going to impact on the Stryd data. From here that makes me think there is more to consider about power transfer, which may bring Stryd into the realms of rehabilitation!

Conclusion

As mentioned previously, Stryd is basically opening a whole new way of running. Is certainly going to be interesting what happens to the device – will they license the technology to other device manufacturers, or will someone buy them – which seems a logical way to get the tech as Garmin did with the Varia.

There is SO MUCH to learn and find out about running with power. Plus questions as to whether this will also become involved in looking at running form, and other running dynamics information, to improve running and reduce injuries.

Currently I’m very happy to have my KICKSTARTER device thats for sure!

If anyone is interested, I have a spare Stryd device from the KICK-STARTER, if you are interested, drop me a line

 

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Comments

  1. Christopher Ashford - June 24, 2016 at 11:01 am - Reply

    Hi James, do you still have your spare stryd? Drop me a line with a price you are looking for if you are thinking of selling.

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  2. This blog just convinced me to get a stryd 😉 cyclist who can’t ride due to arm injury currently.. well used to training racing with power, going to hr and pace as training guides feels like going back 15 years in the cycling world.

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  3. Thanks for looking into it. After a couple hours of trying things out I found this on the Stryd Site:

    1. Note that power is supported in the cycling mode. Note that you can use the Stryd Garmin IQ app to show pace in the cycling mode.
    2. To show power in the run mode, please connect Stryd with the watch as a foot pod. Stryd will be displayed in the cadence field on the watch screen while running.

    So in run mode power is displayed through the cadence filed. This is actually not bad so you can see live power. But you don’t actually record any cadence. Also services like Strava and Training Peaks don’t see it as power, however the power center from Stryd does show it that way.

    Anyway thanks for the great post, it’s help get me started running with power. Lots to figure out in this new world.

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  4. You say “By using the Stryd “app” it allows you to see all the metrics from the device, and save your activity correctly as a run!” But their app you link to is a data field not an app. How do you configure this in run mode, I’m buffed I can’t not seem so see power unless in cycling mode. Am I missing something or is it just not possible yet.

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  5. looks good now that they have the CP tests in there as well.

    Even with real-road cycling it is hard to maintain constant power, so maybe run-power is just another metric to triangulate along with HR and pace.

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