Friday, September 18, 2015

Stryd Pioneer

I could go on forever.  I came up with more questions and thoughts about the new Stryd run power gadget than a 5 year old on halloween.

My stryd device came in the mail today and I immediately connected it, laced up and went out for a stupid hot and uncomfortable 4 mile run.

So, let's start with the basics.  My power was INSANELY high compared to what I was expecting to see.  Come to find out there's a preset weight. Basically, there's an average weight built in to the device that allows it to calculate expected power from a couple of complicated algorithms.  You can't change the preset weight without the app, and the app isn't in the app store yet.

So, is the offset linear, curved or exponential?  No clue.   But rather than making the device useless, it just means you have to view the data a bit differently.  Remember when virtual power first came out and everyone was all cranky about how virtual power was wrong, it didn't match, it was useless because it was wrong.....

Here's the bottom line - it doesn't matter what the numbers say - you just need the right decoder ring.

When I finally went after an actual power meter, I found out that virtual power was 30 watts higher that actual power.  No biggie.  Did the training change?  Nope.  Did my effort level change?  Not a bit.  What did change was the scale.  Same situation (I believe) here.  Data is still valid and can be used for training.  Just don't say that you can push 500 watts for a 15 mile run if you're 120 lbs dripping wet unless you've qualified for the olympics.

Now that we've gotten the negative out of the way, let's move on with the positive.

Power is going to overhaul running.  It's going to revolutionize coaching runners. (And coaches, you better get one and get familiar with it, because it's more affordable than power meters for cycling - and will easily be within financial reach of those willing to hire a coach to get to the next level.)

We can now look at a run and instead of seeing heart rate climb and pace drop off and wonder "Is it over training, fatigue, or a strong south wind?" exactly the same way that we can see the effect of a headwind when on the bike.  Finally we have a method that is "absolute." That is, power doesn't change because you had 3 monsters before you went out for a run (I really hope that's a short run...)   Power doesn't change because you didn't sleep well last night.  Your ability to produce power will, but not the actual numbers themselves.  Heart rate lag and the associated susceptibility to countless factors (caffeine, hydration, nap status...) makes pacing by heart rate frustrating when you live and train in Mordor Texas.  Pace itself is also challenging...  How do you know how fast to climb a hill so you don't burn too many matches?  Heart rate has previously been the best indicator, but becomes useless under many circumstances - especially when lag is involved.

And to be completely honest, I'm looking forward most to the power profiling.  The same way we profile cyclists according to their bike power.  One study I read recently posited that pure cyclists do not have a different max heart rate on the bike vs the run, and related this to the ability for a cyclist to recruit more muscle fibers when on the bike than runners can.  As most of the triathlon industry isn't made up of pure cyclists, we've been writing zones differently for cycling and running for years.  Now we really get to see the differences.

NOW we get to really start seeing potential vs ability - especially when looking at power across both sports.

My n+1 is that I'm a runner who crossed to the dark side triathlon.  My bike ability has never matched my run ability when plugged into the post race data compiled from all the competitors.  I'm not only excited to see power profiling develop on the run, but sport profiling as well.

Run form anyone?  Maybe this will finally make the foot strike/form debate subside when power data starts getting compiled from all the heel strikers, pose runners, barefoot (not-in-scorpion-country-thankyouverymuch), and countless others.

The device is slightly larger than the garmin hrm.  And fortunately, it fits the new garmin strap.  This is important because garmin used to use the type of strap that came with the stryd - the same strap that left me with the post-long-run-shower-scream.  You know - the OMFGTHATCHAFINGHURTSIMNEVERRUNNINGAGAINIHAVENOSKINLEFTTHEREFROMMYHRM scream?  So, major plus that I can use my premium hrm strap with the device.

To tell the truth - I'm really wanting to wait for a full review until the weight issue gets resolved (I'm told I should be able to at some point this weekend) and I plan to try and pair the stryd device with my favorite indoor cycling programs - to make the unavoidable dreadmill run a bit more interesting.

I am incredibly excited about this - I honestly believe that this is going to be one of the most informative times for runners and coaches since 220-your age was developed in the 1930's and 40's by someone with no sports physiology background at all based on olympic athletes.  (Leaving out the majority of the demographics represented in the sport in 2015, much less 1950's onward...)

So... Stryd on...  And I'll be back with more next week.

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