Over the past few days, I was able to get my hands on a Stryd. Stryd is one of the first power meters ever developed for running. There are a lot of physics behind it, but basically, it measures the different forces you apply when running and uses them to calculate power.
Why is measuring power so important? Heart rate has been the defacto measurement of intensity and efficiency in the sport of running for the past thirty years. The problem with heart rate is that it is variable. Nutrition, sleep, and mood can all impact your heart rate. This means you could perform the same run at the same intensity but end up with completely different heart rate measurements during them. Power is an objective measurement, which means it will be consistent day in and day out.
If you are familiar with the Garmin heart rate monitors, Stryd works exactly the same way. Snap the device to the heart rate strap and the assembly is done. The rest of the setup is pretty simple, get the mobile app, strap up, pair with the device, enter your weight, and start running. If you have a watch, Stryd will also pair with it.
I will admit that I gave up on the watch pairing. It’s not Stryd’s fault, but Garmin devices like the 920 don’t support power metrics for running activities. There are ways around this, which require you to select cycling as your activity type and install a Garmin IQ app to gain access to pace data. This will get you everything you need on your watch during workouts, but your workout files get uploaded to major platforms (Garmin, Strava, TrainingPeaks) as cycling workouts and not running workouts. TrainingPeaks lets you edit the workout type and set it to be a run, but the other platforms mentioned do not let you do that. I like to keep things clean and this felt like a hack, so I decided it wasn’t worth the trouble and opted to use my Garmin 920 like normal, running with my phone so I could track my power using the Stryd mobile app.
I really hope Garmin updates their watches to allow power on other activities besides cycling. Once that happens, I think I’ll be completely sold. I’m not certain, but I’m pretty sure Suunto watches support power data on running activities.
Looing At The Data
Like any good device, Stryd has software to let you analyze your data. In addition to the mobile app, Stryd has an online platform which they refer to as PowerCenter. In the PowerCenter you get weekly summary information as well as detailed metrics on your runs.
Below is a power-based heatmap which I think is pretty cool:
Here is what the graphs look like:
With only one run on it and no power tests, I’m not sure what to think of my power numbers just yet. Based on what I’m seeing, it looks like my run power is about 40-50 watts higher than my normalized bike power. After I do some more workouts and spend more time with the device I should be able to make better sense of the numbers.
I’m super excited about the technology and what it brings to the sport of running. Power meters changed the way athletes train on bikes, I believe power meters for running can do the same. The heart rate monitor has been around for a long, long time, so it’s been a while since something revolutionary has come to running.
If you are a triathlete and a Garmin user, you might become frustrated setting your watch up to take advange of the Stryd. There is no way to setup your watch in multi-sport mode and get power data for running, and you’ll have to “fudge” the activity type to gain access to power metrics.
Stryd has already started distributing devices to its Kickstarter backers and some leaders in the industry. Based on their Kickstarter page, I believe their plans are to start mass distribution this spring with a retail price around $150. If you visit the Stryd website you can sign up to receive updates.