Stryd Footpod Data, Two Weeks Later

With a couple of weeks of running with the Stryd Footpod, I now have substantially more data on my running than I did on day one, and I want to dive into what I’ve found.

First off, if the Stryd benefitted my training in any way, it’s that it got me to run a LOT more often. I previously ran more sporadically, and leaned more heavily on aerobic cross training (mainly with the spin bike).

In wanting to assemble more running data, I put the Stryd to use on a lot of shorter runs, mostly during work breaks. I now have a lot of 0.9-1.2 mile runs (1500-2000m) that don’t exceed 10 minutes, plus some slightly longer 15-20 minute lunch runs. As Vegas begins to warm up, these require more effort, plus I have to be mindful that I have to go back to work afterward so I can’t go hard and get sloppy, and the area where I work is somewhat hilly and at higher altitude… thus these have been somewhat easy efforts.

The tracker also tracks measured walks, and these often include momentary sprints as I have to cross streets quickly. So I have a lot of 10-15 second high intensity bursts included in the data.

As a result I have a large sample of shorter runs, giving a lot of consistency to the short-end data at least. I still haven’t taken many longer runs yet (I have yet to take a run longer than 5 miles since getting the pod), so that data is more limited.

Because of this short-haul-centered data, my Stryd Critical Power (CP) is measured somewhat low, and probably lower than my Critical Power actually is. Once I get some hour+ runs in, the CP number will likely increase.

One item that jumps at most new Stryd users is how low the recommended running power is. My first runs were in the 200-220 Watt range, and Stryd initially recommended my easier runs sit in the 140-180 range. Runs at this level felt like grandpa jogs and still do.

Perhaps, after moderated paced easy runs from doing Garmin training plans, I got accustomed to running at a higher intensity, and got away from the easier intensities I ran with in Chicago. While still living in Chicago I ran that easy partially out of necessity: I was often running from home and to some extent tired, so I had to conserve energy since I was above all else transporting myself home. But on the flip side I effectively trained so much at a suitably easy intensity, was thus able to run longer distances, and my aerobic fitness improved dramatically as a result.

Either way, my current 219 Critical Power seems somewhat low and might be. My measured Power Curve lacks longer run data, and the long end of the curve presumes I couldn’t maintain more than 180 W, which I know I could exceed without much trouble.

I did a 9/3 Critical Power test last weekend (which includes a max effort 9 minute run and a max effort 3 minute run mixed in with a longer easy run). This helped fill in some of the data. But the missing link is a longer easy run.

Also, since obviously I’ve been running a lot more than usual, I may also need to rest a bit. I know for sure I haven’t crossed into overtraining, as very few of these runs I’ve done this last couple weeks were particularly long or taxing. After some recovery, my overall easy running may get stronger. I imagine, however, that this will take some time to manifest.

As for other key pieces of data:

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My First Look At Stryd Footpod Data

So, my Stryd footpod arrived today. After a somewhat complicated setup process (and though cumbersome to get attached, the pod does stick perfectly fine to my front end shoelaces), I went out in the increasingly hot Vegas sun and ran a couple of brief miles around the neighborhood to give the tracker some data for me to review.

This was as standard and normal a running effort as I could get myself to do, to make sure the data had no abnormalities. Sure enough, the run (though hot and a bit arduous for that reason) felt like a typical effort, so the data should be a roughly objective view of my standard issue effort.

Sure enough, footpod IQ data showed up in Garmin Connect for the run. It’s a bit complicated to get the Garmin data uploaded to Stryd for review (I had thought it would sync automatically, but apparently not), but once I did I had dashboard data to review.

Here you see a lot of data that’s not just typical mileage, times, pace, and heart rate.

(While not pictured, the log also includes a map of my run, so Garmin’s file did port that over just fine.)

Unfamiliar items on the log include:

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Getting a Stryd Footpod

I ordered a Stryd footpod, whose purchase terms require a 6 month subscription to the Stryd service.

I’m now interested in getting and using the additional stats these sorts of accelerometer running pods provide: Running power, ground contact, etc. I’m now at a point in training where I may have a use for that data, and it could better inform my training going forward.

I previously considered ordering a Garmin Running Dynamics pod to pair with my Forerunner, but balked at doing it (I even had a Dynamics pod ordered, but thanks to ongoing general shipping delays it hadn’t shipped for a few days, giving me time to reconsider and cancel), and now am glad I went with Stryd instead.

First of all, Garmin’s support history for their pricey accessories is a bit spotty. They previously sold a footpod that has now been discontinued and decommissioned. I didn’t want to spend $70 on a running pod that would eventually become obsolete and useless.

Also, while I like the functionality of my Forerunner 245, some of the pod stats I’d want aren’t available for the 245. I’d have to upgrade to a new watch, and while I can afford that I don’t want to decommission this watch after only a year of use.

Also, others reported that the Running Dynamics pod, designed to clip to your waistband, had fallen off and been lost during runs for some people. Again, I don’t want to spend $70 on something and then lose it, especially if it’s that easy to lose (it’s a small, less than a walnut sized device). While I have solid running form with minimal bounce, I have had clips and other similar devices fall off my body or otherwise get lost during and after runs. I can see myself easily losing that pod during a run and not knowing until too far after the fact.

The Stryd pod, meanwhile, is a standard footpod clipped to your shoelaces, and in my experience those stay on solidly with no issues. Worst case scenario, I forget to transfer the pod to my current pair of shoes, and it sits at home.

The Stryd is also intended for use with their 3rd party Garmin Connect IQ app, which provides full functionality through any compatible Garmin watch (and my Forerunner 245 is one of them). I don’t need to change my watch to use it, and it shouldn’t compromise the regular Garmin data from my workouts (including maps, which for me are fairly important).

So that’s why I went with the Stryd instead of the Running Dynamics pod. Now what exactly am I looking to get out of a Stryd versus the regular data from my Forerunner?

Stryd, instead of focusing on pace and other standard running metrics, focuses instead on running power. Pace is subject to a variety of variables beyond your control, e.g. inclines and declines, temperature, humidity, wind, your ability to handle altitude, etc. Most devices spit out just your pace, and what metrics they have evaluate your pace in a vacuum, as if all runs were in equal conditions. That’s not totally accurate.

Meanwhile, your running power measures the force you produce per step, and can be measured regardless of pace or conditions. It can give you a much more accurate, objective idea of how hard you’re running and how hard or easy to run. This pod uses an accelerometer rather than your GPS, so readings are dead-on accurate no matter where you are.

Stryd’s metrics can objectively determine what you’re capable of doing in any time trial from a second to 90 minutes, and can give a more accurate estimate of your current and potential performance all the way up to a marathon.

For me, the difficulty with conventional metrics (mileage, pace, heart rate) was that changes in my pace or heart rate didn’t necessarily tie back to my current fitness or performance. Temperature, high winds, and substantial differences in altitude between locations in the Las Vegas Valley can make workouts of the same intensity and effort look completely different, and make algorithmic judgments of my fitness based on those subjective results.

So, presuming it gets here in one piece this next week, I’ll begin using a Stryd for runs and look forward to what it shows me during runs.

Quick thoughts on “foot strike”

Foot-strike is as big a misnomer as midfoot or forefoot running. This has created countless foot injuries from runners re-learning to basically tiptoe through their runs, or land forcefully on the ball of their foot.

Your foot is designed to make full contact with the ground. But that said, this doesn’t mean slapping the length of your foot against the ground flat-footed is correct either.

Your foot is also designed to roll through contact and carry momentum from back to front, more akin to a wheel than a peg-leg. So the notion of foot “striking” is incorrect, not to mention the source of so many common runner problems (stress fractures, ankle injuries, knee problems, shin splints, etc).

Unfortunately, so many runners and coaches pay attention to what part of the foot hits the ground rather than, more important, how momentum moves throughout the foot before, during and after each step.

What many think of as forefoot striking should instead be a focus on making sure your momentum propels through the ball of the foot and forward, rather than through the heel and into the ground.

Intuitive intervals: Using a heart rate monitor to pace your run/walk intervals

If you have a Garmin watch you can set it to alert you during workouts if your heart rate goes higher or lower than a given threshold… kind of like a built in speed limit monitor for your heart rate.

I tried this feature once and quickly disabled it. I wanted to just run at my own pace and found the alarms when I reached a moderate heart rate annoying.

After a long recent layoff, as I recently started ramping up training, I found basic runs to be a bit too difficult, and sure enough my heart rate would rocket into marathon pace and the lactate threshold. It’s one reason I started doing Galloway style intervals, run/walking the workouts in 2 minute run, 1 minute walk intervals.

Galloway Intervals kept my heart rate level on-average: Even if it spiked during the runs, the minute of walking would bring it back down, the overall average more closely resembling a typical easy run. And overall the effort on these runs didn’t feel terribly difficult.

I’ve since gone on actual full-length training runs of 30+ minutes, and this past weekend I ran a 10K (albeit at closer to regular training paces), so I’m now in condition to run at distance again.

But I want to improve the usage of my natural speed. Now that I track walks on my Garmin watch, I can track paces of not just my walks, but those moments when I run across streets and the pace of those brief, hurried sprints that have always been a part of Working Class Running.

I find those easy, brief sprints vary around a 5:00-7:30 pace without much difficulty. I have speed, but it’s hard to maintain that speed over anything beyond those random little sprints. Even in 400 meter repeats and other workouts I find it very tough.

Is there a way to develop my ability to use that speed at distance in a race?

I think there’s a way, and it goes back to that once-annoying Garmin alert feature.

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Adding mileage with bookended run/walk intervals

I recently made another accidental discovery while training.

After cutting back on running for a while, leaning instead on strength and cross training, I started training seriously again after getting roped into joining a couple of spring 10K’s in the Vegas Valley. With COVID restrictions fading back, races (at least on a smaller scale) are coming back to the area.

To see where I’m at and give me an easy, productive training schedule, I had Garmin set me up on a McMillan algorithmic plan. McMillan’s easy workouts are often flexible, e.g. you can run 20 minutes at an assigned pace, or have the option to extend that paced run up to 35 minutes before the cooldown. I wanted to have that option rather than have to run 3-5 miles at pace or bust.

Previously I had been doing runs Galloway-style, with a run-walk approach. I figured out how to program my Garmin Forerunner to give me run-walk alerts on basic runs, and set it to have me run 2 minutes, walk 1 minute, repeat.

This had actually worked quite well in that my cross training helped me maintain more than enough aerobic endurance, but neuromuscularly I was still struggling to run more than 15-20 minutes without sending my heart rate towards the lactate threshold. I was able to easily extend runs beyond 15-20 minutes with the walk breaks.

Still, I figured forcing myself in the short term to combine some 20+ minute runs with some speedwork and ample nutrition/recovery in a training plan would compel my body to catch up.

On one easy training run I was laboring and decided to cut the workout short at 20 minutes, but that after the cooldown and nominal end of the training session I would “Resume” the rest of the run at an easy pace to cover the distance I wanted.

I got to end of the workout, hit “Resume”, and continued running. Within seconds I was surprised to hear my watch chime and tell me it was time to Walk 1:00, just like on my default runs.

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The TB12 Diet Is Really No Big Deal

This morning I saw Pete Blackburn’s CBS Sports writeup about practicing the TB12 Diet for a week.

TB12 is the health and fitness approach of football star Tom Brady, who as you might have heard had led the Tampa Bay Buccaneers to the Super Bowl, which will be played this Sunday. Brady published a book about his approach a short while back.

The TB12 Diet is built around a restrictive diet with the following rules that Blackburn helpfully outlined in his story:

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