Tag Archives: stryd

Finally, A Finished Race

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Ran out the Hallowrock 5K in 27:52, the first race I managed to complete since March. Yes, it hasn’t exactly been a great year, and by no means was that anywhere close to a PR. But I got what I wanted out of this run.

My goal was simple and based on my Stryd power rather than a goal time: Run the entire course at 250 Watts or greater. A couple of prior steady runs in weeks prior showed me this was an entirely reasonable goal.

Since getting my Stryd my calculated Critical Power (CP) rating (roughly what your lactate threshold should be) hasn’t been as high as I know it actually is. Interval workouts and long runs don’t quite get it where I know it should be. I realize it was going to take a sustained tempo-like effort for the pod to accurately calculate my CP… something like the 5K I signed up to run today.

I filtered in at the start line with a group I figured would be running closer to the pace I could do, and calmly went with the flow as others went out too hard (as usual), finding the 250W groove and calmly sticking with it. I did surge past people as needed but otherwise settled into 250W effort. I had a couple of people pass me (and had one older guy aggressively run/walking past me then me past him, etc) but mostly I was passing people here and there.

I didn’t make any effort to reel in or catch anyone, and the one person I did end up latched behind for most of the race did ultimately pull away in the final mile. I just ran steady the whole way, didn’t worry at all about pace, and whenever I saw I drifted under 250W I stepped up the effort as needed.

The first mile I ran a bit fast, as with a bigger crowd I did have to surge a bit more here and there. After that the only surges were to avoid bottlenecks, including one case where one racer with a dog was approaching pedestrians on the trail who also had a dog. I skipped the 1.5mi water station but did take water at the last station a bit over 2mi in.

Obviously, I tired as the race progressed, and for the first time in a long while I finally felt a lactic burn in my lower legs. Towards the final mile I had to breathe hard and steady to keep things moving. So without looking at my heart rate I knew I was going somewhat hard… not as all-out hard as my better 5K efforts, but I was treating this like a race.

At a quarter mile from the finish I initially picked it up a bit, but my right hamstring began barking again, not close to enough to need to stop but enough that I dialed back to my regular effort. I was fine as long as I didn’t push hard with the right leg. Whatever kick I had at the end was driven by my left leg, my right leg calmly following along at a normal effort. It turned out I ran the last 110 meters substantially faster than the other miles, so I guess that worked out. Plus, remember that my left hamstring and groin were a problem for months. I felt no pain whatsoever in that left leg.

Stryd tells me my measured Critical Power has jumped about 25W, which is much more like it.

So, while I’ll still take a few days easy from running before resuming any running, I’ll certaintly take that and move along.

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Checking In 7/22/2021

Rest day today!

I’ve actually slept well the last four consecutive nights. I feel like I regained some consistency in eating fulfilling evening meals, and now I’m sleeping through the night.

The noticeable key factor however has been that each of my four preceding days was mostly busy. Sunday I was traveling much of the day and had to run errands once returning home, and Monday through Wednesday I worked all day followed by gym training. I had relatively little evening downtime before it was time to turn in, and while not outright exhausted I was definitely ready to turn in once 8pm rolled around.

In hindsight, this was closer to what my lifestyle was in Chicago, than previous months in Vegas where I might have more spare downtime following work or on the weekends. Perhaps that is what I need? I don’t feel terribly burned out on this schedule, even if yesterday I was more worn out.

However, weariness was more likely the product of consecutive days of serious training plus the higher humidity in Vegas. Both should recede in the coming days (I mentioned yesterday reducing my training days for more, fewer intense ones), and I definitely feel better today even though I ran a couple of cruise intervals and chased it with some cross training last night.

I plan to lightly cross train today, do a brief shakeout and some evening cross and strength training tomorrow, and then attempt a long treadmill workout Saturday. If my new 3 weekly workout schedule works out then this Saturday long run should feel better than similar prior attempts.

This is some interesting data on ground contact time for elite runners. I found this a day ago so I don’t remember what else I looked up that verified the following… but apparently the optimum ground contact to air time is something around 50/50… which requires a very short ground contact time.

Most of us are in the 250-300 ms range for each step we take, smaller the faster generally. Elites are generally at or under 200ms. Presuming 180 steps per minute, 3 per second, then to get a 50/50 ratio you need a ground contact time under 167 ms. That’s rather hard to do unless your “leg spring stiffness” is strong enough to quickly recoil you off the ground akin to a sprinter (though obviously endurance athletes will not be sprinting).

I know for sure based on Stryd metrics that my leg spring stiffness is rather low, and that makes sense given I’m naturally flexible and agile. The tradeoff of that agility is that a lot of the energy I put into the ground with each step diffuses instead of propeling me back up with each step.

Here and there I’ve worked on it, and now I’m making a point (with some difficulty) to practice quickly and as lightly as possible bringing each step off the ground. It doesn’t help that I’m not light: A typical elite runner is 110-130 lbs, and I’m closer to 180. I have no interest in being 130 lbs, nor could I safely get there, but I can and am working on shedding extra weight. We’ll see how far I can get with an improved GCT/air-time ratio.

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Checking in 6/22/2021

Yesterday I woke up later than usual, and skipped my planned fast finish run before work that morning.

I decided I would try and run it after work, something I hadn’t done since early spring. Obviously, the heat is a key reason I avoided late afternoon runs, but also I had been wary of a late day run’s effect on my sleep. That said, my sleep hasn’t been what I’m looking for this last month (my waking up late yesterday is a product of that), and so I had a lot less to lose trying a late workout yesterday. Worst case scenario, I’m not drifting off to sleep until later in the evening, which I’ve already been doing.

I also decided I’d try another avoided tactic: I would do the whole workout on the treadmill at the gym. I generally have a hard time with the old treadmill not just because of the relative monotony, but also because with no wind resistance I can get hot fairly quickly at room temperature.

(An aside: Room temperature and humidity are actually fairly hot conditions for a run, typically around 73-76°F (23-24°C) and 30-40% humidity. At my mild pace and weight, my perceived temperature was around 101°F, 38°C. If I had run the same in typical warm Chicago conditions, say 70°F with 50% humidity, the perceived temp would only be 97°F, 36°C. While I haven’t written any pieces about this, room temperature’s perceived heat index for runners is a legit issue with using the treadmill, and again remember there’s no wind indoors to provide any sort of breeze.)

I had a triple whammy surprise waiting for me after work, on top of still feeling a bit tired and sore from the weekend’s many workouts. I had brought my running shorts to change into, but I forgot to bring my fanny pack, in which I always carry my keys/phone/IDs since while the shorts have pockets they can’t handle the weight of all the above. Also, I will lose things I put down in public, so carrying them in my hands is not a practical solution.

So, to do the treadmill workout, I’d have to do it in my slacks with my keys/phone/ID in my pockets, just like the work break runs. Fine for a 10-15 minute break jog, but a full 30 minute treadmill workout?

Recall that I now use a Stryd footpod, and one of its many benefits is it calculates accurate running stats (pace and power) on the treadmill. The Stryd even indicates how much a given treadmill’s displayed pace is miscalculated. I have found the Stryd rather accurate, and it often shows within 0.02-0.03 miles (40ish meters) of the treadmill’s stated distance, whereas my Garmin’s distance/pace estimates were never close.

I mention this actually because I could do this workout not by heart rate but by power readings from the Stryd. As long as a given treadmill pace got me to my desired Zone 1-5 power ranges, I could run steady at those paces. I find the needed pace is often slower than I would previously run on the treadmill.

Sure enough, I found my needed power range at an easy pace and cruised there comfortably. On top of that, and maybe the air conditioning was really strong, but the whole run felt super comfortable! Only towards the end as the sweat and body heat began to accumulate did I feel all that uncomfortable. Even the surge into the fast finish during the workout’s last 5 minutes didn’t feel unduly challenging.

Whether it was heat acclimation from running outside so much, whether the A/C was blasting real strong yesterday in the gym, whether my reliance on accurate power data led me not to push as hard as before… instead of the treadmill run being painful, hot, a struggle, the workout felt do-able, and my effort felt consistent.

I could now actually see myself doing most of my midweek training runs, and maybe even with some adjustments the long runs as well, on the treadmill this summer. As long as I’m still taking work break jogs, I’ll still get heat acclimation exposure during exercise (I obviously won’t stop taking those jogs) so I won’t lose those adaptions. Plus, the 70-75°F 30-40% conditions indoors are a better prep environment for the potential Indy Monumental conditions (likely 50-60°F, 13-18°C, with 70-80% humidity) than the dry and hot Vegas air.

Also, regarding the evening workout and my sleep being affected: I drifted off around 9:30pm, consistent with my recent patterns, and I slept a good 8 hours before waking around 5:30am this morning. So I think my sleep patterns can work with these evening training sessions, provided they’re not unduly difficult.

Also, while a slightly separate subject, minimizing AM training may be beneficial for my recovery since morning workouts tend to produce high stress levels and minimal heart rate variability throughout the rest of the day. If I don’t work out in the morning, my HRV stays balanced and my overall stress in the morning stays low.

So okay, Treadmill, I think I can work with you now.

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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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