Having used my Stryd for almost a year now, I feel ready to do a Stryd footpod review.
You may be wondering if the Stryd footpod can help you be a faster or better runner so hopefully my experience will help you understand or to decide on whether to invest in one.
When I first heard about the Stryd Footpod, I didn't take much notice as I thought it was for elite athletes or runners of a certain 'young' age and performance level. However, the more I read about it, the more intrigued I became and the more I felt that it could be a really useful running tool, even for me.
I am not a fast, young, elite runner but rather I am a 58-year-old female who took up running around 5 years ago. I run mainly for pleasure but also do competitions from 5km to marathon. Around me are mostly trails, so I was interested to see how the Stryd footpod would cope with lots of ups and downs and bumpy terrain.
Runners have historically raced by feel, pace, speed or heart rate or a mix of them, but not by power. So this is certainly a new concept and I certainly was intrigued.
The Stryd footpod is a small black tear shaped pod that you wear on your shoe. If you are a competitive cyclist, you may well have heard of power meters but for runners it is a totally new concept.
The Stryd footpod weighs about 7 grams and attaches to the laces of your shoes. As you run, it measures the work and effort that you are exerting in order to move. It does this using accelerometers which are built into the Stryd pod. These accelerometers measure your body movement (forwards, sideways and upwards) and from this information, it can calculate your power output in watts.
The more power you can exert and the more efficiently you use that power, the faster you will be. More info on the Stryd website.
I've always wondered how I can improve but to be honest, without a coach I didn't know where to start. My weak points I tended to ignore and hoped that they would go away. Of course, that never happened and I either got injured or I messed up my race.
As far as I see it, Stryd is a tool to help you get the best out of yourself and your training. What I have learnt, is that it shows you where you are at in your training and any weak areas and how you can improve them. It also calculates what power you are capable of holding in a race at various distances so that you can pace the race evenly.
Stryd is my mini coach .
I use Stryd along with my Garmin Fenix 5S. It will work with any android phone or iPhone and most running watches (they have a list on their website of compatible watches).
Setting up and pairing the Stryd with my Garmin was simple. I just followed the emails and I was good to go pretty much straight away.
Charging is also simple. You just attach it to your computer via the USB cable and when the light goes out, it is done. I haven't timed how long it takes to charge but it seems quite quick (a few hours) and the battery life is about 20 hours which is a huge bonus. You can check how much battery is left by placing your phone next to your Stryd and then checking the phone app.
The Stryd links to my running watch and so all the information that it collects can be seen either on Garmin Connect (as in my case) and in the online Stryd Power Center.
There are a variety of different apps which you can download on your GPS watch that work with Stryd. Stryd recommend the Stryd Zones app which I find pretty clear and easy to use. I like to keep my screens pretty simple so I just have power zones on one screen and then pace, distance, time and power on another. I do have heart rate (HR) on a third as I still like to see my HR post run.
When you first get your Stryd, you will wonder how such a small, unassuming piece of equipment can do so much. Well it does, but all out of sight. It doesn't even have an on/off switch!
The footpod is triggered by motion, so as soon as you move, it starts recording internally with or without a GPS watch. This is kind of handy, as if you forget your watch or your watch runs out of battery mid-run, there is a way to get the recorded info from Stryd and into your account.
I was advised not to worry about the data for a few weeks but just to run as usual. The more you run, the more information that you will give it and so the more it can begin to create a profile that is personalized to you.
In the initial months, you’ll find that there is a lot to take in, especially if like me your running vocab only consists of pace, distance, time and heart rate. However, fear not as the Stryd manual is easy to read and their Facebook group is excellent.
I still worry that I ask pretty basic questions and I'm still trying to come to terms with some of the terminology, but I am getting there bit by bit. I have learnt to understand form power, leg spring stiffness, efficiency index and more!.
I love to look at my stats post run. Did I run faster or slower, was my heart rate too high and how big was that hill that I just killed myself on....
Before I got Stryd, pace, distance, time and heart rate were generally all that I concentrated on. However now with Stryd, I can see how efficiently I ran too and how I could improve. This is where Stryd has a big advantage over just your regular running watch.
As I've got older, I've realized that my body is unfortunately less efficient, needs more stretching and I am slowing down (sob). So, if I can be guided on where I could improve my running, then I am all ears.
After I had logged a month or so of runs, Stryd started to make suggestions such as that I needed to do more speed work and do some hill sprints. I guess that is not surprising since I do a lot of slow running since I am always paranoid about injuries.
Stryd also showed that I waste a lot of energy (perhaps related to poor form) and my leg spring stiffness is way below average.
Everything you do is shown up in graphs or charts (see graphic below) so you can see how you are progressing.
For Stryd to predict accurately you do need to feed it a certain amount of information. This is in the form of runs/races at different speeds and distances and a critical power (CP) test.
Once Stryd has enough reliable information, it will give you your critical power number which is the power in watts that you could hold for anywhere between 40 - 70 minutes.
Once you have your critical power then Stryd can work out training zones for you, just as in heart rate training or pace training.
There are 5 zones ranging from Easy to Repetition. I have always been a fan of heart rate (HR) training and luckily I find that my HR zones are in fact not that different to when using power zones, which was kind of reassuring.
One of the biggest hurdles I had to overcome is to get used to the fact that Stryd will not predict paces for you. It will only predict power. When you go out for a run, your aim will be to maintain the planned power (in watts) irrespective of the pace.
Every 4 - 6 weeks, you need to repeat the CP test so that Stryd can update your training zones and you can see if you have improved. What you want to see is either a lower critical power for the same pace or a higher critical power and a faster pace.
A great tool is the race predictor. This to me is one of the key features. I'm not sure why, but you can only access this on the phone app.
You key in a recent race time and distance and then from that result (plus taking into account your training history), Stryd can predict a power that you could sustain for the distance of the race (5km, 10km, half marathon, marathon). It doesn't set a pace. At first I was unsettled by this as I like to know what my pace is, but then I kind of reasoned to myself that the race power I was targeting meant that I was running at my true capability.
When I first started running, I used to race by pace, and I would try and keep an even pace no matter what. This just led to failure and injuries as you can't keep the same pace on uneven terrain and often, I set myself too fast a pace for the distance or what I was capable of.
I then moved on to racing by HR. I think the concept is good but there is a flaw in that HR lags and is very sensitive to outside influences. My HR would be sky high even before the race started. Plus I do love a cup of coffee before a race.
Power on the other hand is an instant measure of what you are doing and is not affected by hills, coffee, stress etc. Here's my post about Running power vs heart rate vs pace.
I feel I have not quite yet mastered racing by power but only because the races I do are hilly trails and are not the traditional distances. I have struggled to stick to a power number and having to look at my watch a lot, has meant I am not running as smoothly as I want.
The one time I should have been able to hold my power consistently, was the Amsterdam marathon. It is flat as a pancake and mostly road. I blew it though in that I added on a few watts to what was suggested and so consequently I got cramp and ended up limping to the finish line. Totally my fault.
However I do see the huge potential in using power in a race and if done correctly, you will run your best race possible. Marathon PB, here I come ;).
#1. Much as I like the race predictor, I feel it could be improved. The predictor doesn't have an option that deviates from the standard distances of 5 km, 10 km, half marathon and marathon. That is tricky if I am doing say a 13 km.
#2. The phone app and the online power center, although they link to each other, they both provide varying information and you can do some things on one but not on the other. The race predictor is one example, and another is that to change your personal information, you must do it on your phone app. Similarly, if you want to view your charts, you must do that in the Stryd online power center. I understand however, that Stryd has a lot of changes in the pipeline for their apps and online Power Center, so right now I am not too bothered.
#3. The battery level indicator on the phone app does not seem accurate. Thankfully Stryd has roughly 20 hours of battery life, so I charge mine every 2 weeks and have not yet had an issue.
#4. The Stryd footpod is black. Some people might like that, but a brighter color would mean that I can spot it easier. When you’re running and looking down at your shoe to make sure it is still there, it can be difficult to see.
Stryd’s distance accuracy is top notch. Unlike my Garmin watch which uses GPS, Stryd uses accelerometers. These are not affected by buildings, trees, weather and so on. Many times, my Garmin watch has not been able to pick up my location and distance if I am say in a forest or shaded trail. Stryd is spot on all the time.
I have learnt a huge amount on how I can be a better runner. For a long time, I felt stuck in a rut of not knowing how to get faster and how to become more efficient. I really like that it records a stress score for each run so I can see if I am overdoing things and when to scale back.
Training by power has been an eye opener. Not only am I injury free but my training times have definitely improved. I am running faster in training as opposed to when I ran solely by HR and during my recent marathon training I got PB's in my 1km and 5km.
I have always struggled in races as I either start too fast or am overambitious in what I am capable of. Racing by power is a great way of reigning me in. As of yet, I haven’t fully mastered racing by power, but I can really see the potential.
(Stryd footpod review : written November 2019)Midlife Running Home > Stryd Footpod Review