I feel ready to do a Stryd footpod review having owned and used Stryd for a few months now. However I am going to do it in 2 parts as I feel a few months of ownership might not do it justice and it does take time to get the most out of it.
So this first review, will hopefully show you what to expect in the first 4 - 6 months and my second Stryd footpod review will be after about 10-12 months when I have done a few more races, including a marathon.
When I first heard about the Stryd Footpod, I didn't take much notice as I thought it was for elite athletes or athletes 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 and who runs for fun but also enters local races from 5km to marathon distance. I am also on a mission to get a personal best in a marathon later this year. I've done 4:12, 4:13 and I would so like a 3 something :-).
If you are a competitive cyclist you may well have heard of power meters but for runners it is a totally new concept. Runners have historically raced by feel, by pace or by heart rate or a mix of them but not by power. I certainly was intrigued.
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 forwards. It does this by the use of 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.
Running with power is very new and a bit confusing but basically it is what your body generates in order to move you up, down, sideways or forwards. As a runner I want to move forwards as quickly and efficiently as possible and want to know if I was quicker or slower than last time. Stryd theoretically will show me where I could improve and how much power I waste going up and down or side to side.
Note to self: Make sure that the Stryd footpod is clipped onto your shoe properly. I nearly lost mine once. Panic!!
It is so easy to get caught up in marketing hype about things that will make you faster (ahem Nike shoes...) so before I got my Stryd footpod I reminded myself that Stryd is not like wearing springs on my feet which will propel me to the finish line. It is actually a training and running tool to help you achieve your best potential.
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 me where I am at in my training and how I can improve plus what I am capable of in a race. I think of it as my mini coach.
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 but that never happened.
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 with my Garmin was pretty 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 actually timed how long it takes to charge but it seems quite quick (a few hours) and the battery life is about 20 hours. 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 also 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 and which show all sorts of metrics. I felt a bit intimidated by some of them so I just stuck with the Stryd Power app. I like to keep mine pretty simple so I just have pace, distance, time and power.
When you first get your Stryd, you will wonder how can such a small, unassuming piece of equipment do much. Well it does, but all out of sight. It doesn't even have an on/off switch!. It 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 ran 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. Of course, being very inquisitive, I was trying to decipher all the information from the start, but actually I just got confused.
In the initial month, there is a lot to take in because there are lots of new words to learn. I'd never heard of form power or leg spring stiffness or efficiency index. However 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 and the FB group and support are very helpful.
I love to look at my stats post run. Did I run faster, slower, is my heart rate up and how big was that hill that I just killed myself on....
Before I got Stryd, these stats generally told me what I had achieved in my run but not how efficiently I ran and how I could improve. This is where Stryd has a big advantage as it will also tell you how you can improve. 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.
Stryd has been an eye opener in showing me how I can improve. I seem to waste a lot of energy, perhaps related to poor form or too slow cadence and my leg spring stiffness is way below average. Judging by my numbers, I run a bit like an elephant.
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 training since I am always paranoid about injuries. Another cool feature is that on my phone app it gives me daily motivational messages or tells me how much better I did from the previous week :-).
Everything you do is shown up in graphs or charts so you can see how your are progressing.
In order for Stryd to predict accurately, you should preform a Critical Power Test (CP test) or you can use a recent race result (last 4 weeks). From this it can ascertain the power (critical power) that you could hold for anywhere between 45 - 60 minutes and at what pace (critical pace). I did the CP test in my local stadium and I also had a result of a 5Km parkrun. I would say the results were pretty similar.
Once you have your critical power and pace, 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 I find that my HR is in fact not that different to when using power zones, maybe like all my HR zones have shifted down a zone. That was kind or reassuring as I didn't want to go down the route of days spent doing intervals and speed work.
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. I must admit I need to do another one as I have been a bit lazy about doing them regularly so I don't know as yet if I have improved. Hopefully I have!
Another great tool, is the race predictor. 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, it can predict a power watt that you could sustain for the distance of the race (5km, 10km, half marathon, marathon) that you wish to do.
Racing by power using the Stryd footpod is a very different concept and takes a bit of time to get used to. I used to race by pace and would try and keep an even pace no matter what. This just lead to failure and injuries as you can't keep the same pace on uneven terrain and often I set myself too high a pace. I then moved on to racing by heart rate. 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. 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.
Stryd will suggest a power that you are capable of for your particular race. It doesn't set a pace. That is kind of reassuring in that you know you are running at your capability although for some it could be disappointing if they feel that the pace they are doing is slower than they would like.
I feel I have failed a bit on the race predictor as the races I do are hilly trails and are not the traditional distances. I've found it impossible 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. Not that I ever run smoothly, haha.
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 5km, 10km, half marathon and marathon. That is tricky if I am doing say an 13km.
I also feel that the race predictor should take into account how hilly the race is. Personally I find hills hard even if I am using the same power as I would on the flat. For this reason I tend to lower my predicted power watt to be on the safe side.
Another area that Stryd could really do with improving is their app. 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 such as with the race predictor. Another example is that to change your personal information, you have to do it on your phone app but if you want to view your charts, you have to do that in the Stryd online power center.
Another big bonus of using Stryd is that unlike my Garmin GPS watch, Stryd measures pace and distance much more accurately. It doesn't use GPS but uses accelerometers which 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 in a forest or shaded trail but Stryd is spot on all the time.
I certainly felt overwhelmed in the first month and even now 4 months later, I am still trying to understand a lot of the processes and the equations of how things are calculated. However I think as with most things in life, you can make it as simple or as complicated as you wish. Do I need to know everything? Probably not.
I've also learnt not to compare any of my power numbers to others as your power is individual to you and is based on your weight.
I am trying to focus on one thing at a time so right now (4 months in), I am focusing on trying to improve my form power which according to Stryd could do with some tweaking. Plyometrics, foot strike, cadence........
In spite of my initial anxieties, I am getting a lot out of it and I feel that I am improving, certainly in my posture and form. I really like that it records a stress score for each run so I can see if I am overdoing things that week and when to scale back. Interestingly I did have a hamstring injury recently and my form power worsened.
I also love the accuracy in distance and pace and no longer have to worry about my GPS losing satellite.
My biggest struggle I guess is getting used to and understanding all the different metrics. The Stryd interface is not brilliant and there is definitely room for improvement but for a recreational runner, it is fine for me for now.
I can't as of yet shout out about any PB's, but then the few races I've done have been more technical than I normally do. I am though really enjoying training by power and I'm using one of the Stryd marathon power plans and so far so good. Once I've done my marathon later this year, I'll post a second Stryd power meter review.
If you are interested to know more ,here's the link to Stryd website.
Update: As of July 2019, Stryd have updated the Stryd footpod (latest version is V3) to include wind detection.