Stryd Powermeter Review
Technology is allowing athletes the opportunity to understand how workouts are affecting the body, and power meters are at the forefront of that movement. For this review, I asked my technology reviewer Luke Garten to fully vet the new Powermeter from Stryd. Stryd was started on Kickstarter (where funders liked it enough they went $200k past the initial goal!), and is headquartered in Boulder, Colorado.
Aren’t power meters for bikes?
Measuring power in the form of Watts is nothing new in cycling. Since it came out in cycling in the late 1980’s, it was an instant hit with the pro cycling tours. Cycling power meters use a strain gauge mounted to the bike’s pedals, crank set, or rear wheel. They range from $500 to $2000. Every serious cyclist or triathlete I know today has one of these pricy instruments on their bikes.
Running power meters
Stryd has changed the way a runner can measure their performance. Pace, heart rate, time and elevation gain is no longer the only ways to measure progress or effort. Stryd has developed a measuring device to calculate the power you are producing in the form of watts. I contacted them and asked them to describe how this is done. This is what they had to say.
“Stryd is a different technology from existing cycling power meters. More specifically, strain gauge sensor based cycling power meters are installed on the bike, and bike metal structure allows consistent measurement for these sensors. The downside is, their applications are limited to cycling.
Stryd uses motion and environmental sensors to measure the motion of the runner’s center of mass in the 3D space, as well as environmental effects, e.g., terrain change. Based on that, Stryd determines the athlete’s mechanical power output. Since the sensor is installed directly on athlete’s body, a potential advantage is that, it allows athletes to carry the Stryd technology to other physical sports. We start with running, and then can potentially extend this technology to other sports, such as football, soccer, and basketball.”
So why a power meter instead of heart rate?
After using a heart rate monitor for almost every run, race, or workout I have done for the last year, heart rate is a nice tool, and that is it. Don’t get me wrong, I still use a heart rate monitor but I do not trust it to be consistent. Your heart rate is influenced by temperature, humidity, altitude, stress, illnesses, fatigue etc. It is usually the same day after day, but not always. As you first start running with a HRM it takes about 10 or so minutes for most monitors to be accurate. If you had a bad night’s sleep or you are coming down with a cold your heart rate could be as high as 10 to 15 beats per minute higher than the week before. Pacing yourself at a race or a workout will leave you running slower than your legs can actually allow. The other downfall of using heart rate for intervals is that your heart rate is too slow to react to your effort, which will leave you unsure if you are giving enough effort. After multiple intervals your heart rate will also start to get higher after each interval, called cardiac drift.
A power meter will not be effected by any of these situations. It gives instant feedback. It does not change when you get tired or have not warmed up yet. This is the reason they are so popular in the cycling world, and will soon be popular in the running world.
So how do you use a Stryd Powermeter?
The power meter consists of a chest strap and a measuring device that snaps onto the strap. You simply put it on as you would a chest strap heart rate monitor. The meter records Power, heart rate, and cadence. You have two ways of viewing the data while running, a GPS watch or on the Stryd app on your mobile device. Today you can either use Garmin’s 910xt, 920xt, or Fenix3 and view its data in the cycling mode (yes you have to run in cycling mode for it to work). Polar V800 will also work but in cycling mode as well. However Suunto Ambit2, 3, 2s, 3 peak and 3s can view the data in run mode. As popularity of using running power meter rises I am sure all GPS watches will support the data in running mode.
After you go to www.Stryd.com/powercenter and make your account with your weight entered, you are ready to run. If you can’t figure it out there are many “How To” videos on the Stryd website to help you out. After your run you can view the data on the Stryd website.
I am impressed
I tested the Stryd Powermeter in three very different running scenarios. During those runs I never once had to adjust the strap or keep it from sliding down my torso as I have with past heart rate monitors. I am definitely not a fan of wearing a chest strap (here’s my last review for URP for a non-chest-strap HRM), but for the sake of using new technology I will get by.
My first test run was on flat road at a steady medium effort pace for a few miles, then slightly progressed my pace a little faster for the final three miles. My heart rate was steady as it usually is but was about 15 bpm higher than normal as I am recovering from a recent race and a nasty cold. The power was very stable at about 315 watts for the first half and gradually increased to 360 watts for the second half and did not drift around. My cadence was also very stable at about 176 to 180.
The second test I did was a 10 mile hilly trail run at easy conversational pace. At that type of run my heart rate stayed very steady but still way higher than my normal for that effort. The power basically stayed steady with my heart rate. Average heart rate was 149 and power averaged 265. As I ran uphill both heart rate and Power went up, but power was much quicker to respond than my slowly gaining heart rate. On the very steep downhill both heart rate and power dropped off. However, heart rate dropped slowly and power dropped down drastically.
My third run was 2 miles of warm up, then 5 short and steep hill sprints at near maximal effort, 1 mile easy, then 5 hard effort intervals on flat road, then a 2 mile cool down. I wanted to see the main difference between heart rate and power during short fast intervals. What I found was exactly what I was hoping to see. I started the hill sprints with a 140 heart rate. The Powermeter was instantly giving me feedback with what my effort level was, while my heart rate was way too delayed. In fact it took till after I was almost half way down the hill before my heart rate would go fully up. I was able to max my power at 605 watts which was near my max effort. Heart rate for that short of a sprint only got to 168, which is not even close to my max heart rate. During the flat road intervals I got very similar results, except that I could only produce around 460 watts for those.
I also learned a lot about my cadence during these tests. I have never worn a monitor to measure cadence before, but I have counted my foot steps during most runs and would average around 178 to 180 steps per minute. What I found with a monitor is that at very easy or recovery pace my cadence was around 172 to 175. I would average 178 to 180 during medium effort paces and range from 184 to 196 during very hard effort runs. Knowing this while monitoring the heart rate and power I can fine tune my form and cadence to make myself more efficient. Very cool!
The Good and the Bad
-Great technology that is finally available to runners.
-Quality strap and monitor
-Very fast feedback while running
-Never had any glitches or weird readings
-Doubles as a heart rate monitor
-Running with the Stryd app will automatically upload your run to Strava after.
-$199 (however heart rate monitors alone range from $75 to $150. Cycling power meters are way higher).
-Most GPS watch manufactures are not ready to fully support this yet (except Suunto) and you have to run in bike mode. Though most will likely support it in the future.
-Today, Strava and other websites will not show you power on your run to view it. You have to use the Stryd website
I love using a power meter instead of just heart rate. I don’t love wearing a chest strap, like not even a little, but I will wear it to be able to view power. I am excited to see where this technology goes in the near future, and I believe it is here to stay. I will not wear the power meter during every run, but I will definitely be used it during every workout or hard effort long runs. If you got the cash, I would buy one. They can be purchased at www.stryd.com/order.
This review was written by Luke Garten from Auburn, CA. He runs on the Inside Trail Racing Team and usually runs 70 to 80 miles a week while training for ultramarathon races or adventure runs in the High Sierras. Luke is also a father, husband, occasional cyclist, and a professional Equipment Mechanic.
The product was provided to URP for testing purposes without any expectation of a positive review. All words, thoughts, an images are from Luke/URP.