Stryd Footpod Review (2020) – how using Stryd improved my running

Stryd footpod running power meter

The Stryd running power meter is a high end lightweight running footpod that claims to improve training and racing effectiveness. It measures a number of key running metrics, whilst also providing valuable insights into your training and running form. But how useful is the Stryd footpod? Is it worth the cost? And more importantly will it improve your running?

As a long term Stryd user (well over 2 years now), I’ve gone from an initial skeptic to now using Stryd as my primary tool for measuring and analysing running performance data and training loads. In this review, i’ll take a look at the effectiveness and benefits of using Stryd for run training and racing. And look at how I’ve found it useful for training analysis.

Table of Contents

Stryd Footpod Running Power Meter: The basics

What is the Stryd Footpod? The Stryd Running power meter is an advanced running footpod that can be paired with compatible gps watches. This gives you additional running metrics (power, leg spring stiffness, form power etc) beyond those measured by most gps watches. So, by using Stryd you’re upgrading the data recorded on your watch.

One of Stryd’s key features is it’s measure of running power. This is measured through internal accelerometers built into the footpod. These measure the acceleration of the footpod (forwards, upwards and sideways) when running. From this Stryd calculates an estimation of your running power, measured in watts. This can be useful for controlling training intensity especially when running over undulating terrain.

What Stryd measures: running power, pace*, distance*, cadence, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, form power, leg spring stiffness as well as elevation.

*One area that Stryd really excels in is accuracy. Most reviewers have found Stryd to have a high level of pace and distance accuracy. I’ve found Stryd to be consistently more accurate than using GPS – I’ll expand on this later in the review.

How much does Stryd cost? £199

Stryd footpod weight: ~9g

Battery life: 20hrs when new. After 2years use this has decreased slightly, but I still get around 15+ hrs run time per charge

Stryd Compatibility: Stryd is fully compatible with most high end GPS sports watches from Garmin, Polar, Suunto, and Apple Watch. I’ve used Stryd in combination with the Polar V800 and Garmin 735XT and FR 935. Of these I’ve found the Garmin watches more useful due to the extra run dynamic data recorded within their .fit file.

What are the benefits to using the Stryd Footpod

The Stryd footpod is primarily marketed as a better way to control training intensity and race performance. In particular it can be useful for keeping training intensity within a specific training zone, or, a specific power range when racing – something you will be familiar with if you’ve previously used cycling power meters.

The benefits of this become clear when you see just how much power increases when running up a gradient. Even when you feel like you’ve eased off! However, the real benefit i’ve gained from using Stryd comes from the monitoring of running training load and the training insights it has given me. In particular i’ve been able to identify which training sessions provide me with greater training benefits.

Before taking a more in depth look at where I’ve found Stryd useful, let’s look at what Stryd measures.

If you would rather skip this section then feel free to jump straight to “Where I’ve found the Stryd footpod useful”

What the Stryd footpod measures

Pace and distance

The stryd footpod provides a highly accurate measure of pace and distance. From my own experience, the Stryd footpod provides a more accurate measure of pace and distance than a GPS watch. This has been seen both around a running track as well as when running on the road, and in particular when running off-road, especially in wooded areas where GPS accuracy is more limited. It also shows a more accurate and consistent measure of current running pace.

Running power 

Stryd provides an estimate of running power (measured in watts). This can be used as a measure of your rate of work when running. Allowing you to maintain a more consistent work rate when running uphill or downhill. Running power can also be used as a way to assess running efficiency – we’ll take a quick look at this later – with a lower power at a given speed indicating greater (improved) efficiency.

Form power

This is described as being a measure of the amount of power required to maintain running form. A lower value of Form power indicates that less energy is required to maintain running form. Effectively freeing up more power for forwards movement.

Ground Contact Time 

This tells us how long your foot is in contact with the ground. A lower value (up to a point) is generally considered to indicate greater efficiency. Ground contact time is strongly influenced by cadence – as running cadence increases, ground contact time decreases.

Running Cadence 

Simply put, running cadence is a measure of stride rate, or steps per minute.

Vertical Oscillation 

This is a measure of the amount of vertical movement (measured in cm) that occurs with each step. A lower vertical oscillation is generally considered more efficient and also decreases ground impact forces. However, there is likely to be individual variation in optimum vertical oscillation height. And therefore it’s not always as simple as just decreasing vertical oscillation and seeing improved efficiency.

Leg Spring Stiffness 

Leg spring stiffness (LSS) his is a measure of the tension or stiffness within muscles and tendons. It gives an indication of how efficient the muscles and tendons are at utilising the energy from ground impact forces. A higher leg spring stiffness has been found to correlate with improved running economy.

Elevation 

As well as providing a measure of pace and distance, stryd also measures elevation.

A number of these performance measures, and metrics are available on other footpods and running dynamics pods (cadence, ground contact time, pace, distance, vertical oscillation etc). However, there are a few areas where Stryd stands out as providing either more accurate data, or data, that I’ve found more useful (leg spring stiffness, running pace and distance accuracy, training and race power).

The image below shows some Stryd running metrics from a session of drills, accelerations followed by 3 x 15min threshold intervals.

Stryd Running Metrics
The following image shows the Stryd running metrics from a session of drills, accelerations, followed by 400m intervals and a threshold interval.
Running power 400m repetitions plus threshold run

Stryd Powercenter and Runner Profile

The stryd power center is where you can view and analyse your running data. In addition to being able to view your data from individual runs it provides a runner profile with an estimate of your Metabolic FitnessMuscle Power and Muscle Endurance.

According to Stryd: metabolic fitness is the metabolic stress your body can handle, muscle power represents your peak 10 second power recorded during each run, and muscle endurance is determined by your weekly run with the greatest overall training load for that week.

The powercenter also makes suggestions on where to optimize and improve your running training. The image below shows my Stryd runner profile. My runner profile shows metabolic fitness being the highest (98%), followed by muscle power (80%) and muscle endurance (52%). From this Stryd has highlighted muscle endurance as having the most potential for improvement.

Of these, muscle power is the only measure that is directly interpreted through run performance data (maximum 10 second power). Both metabolic fitness and muscle endurance are interpreted from training load data – either accumulated over time (metabolic fitness), or from the individual weekly run with the highest training load (muscle endurance).

Stryd Runner Profile

Stryd also makes suggestions about where the most improvements might come from. In my case it has highlighted the most potential improvements in the area of Muscle Endurance and suggested:

  1. Aerobic Threshold Runs – Stryd describes this as 20-60 min of Zone 3 running. Essentially a tempo run, completed at just below Threshold Intensity.
  2. Race Pace Runs – runs completed at your goal race pace.
  3. Long runs

In terms of my training (current focus on 10km training), I’m running up to 1hr 50 as my long run, already including regular race pace training (10k pace), and focussing on lactate threshold runs rather than aerobic threshold/tempo runs. So, there’s nothing within my current training that will lead to a significant change in ‘Stryd’s’ interpretation of my muscle endurance. To achieve an improvement in Stryds measure of muscle endurance, I would need to significantly change the training focus. In particular I would need to increase the length of the long run, or accumulate more training stress during individual run sessions.

The big factor here really is Stryd’s interpretation of Muscle Endurance – it appears to be solely related to your run with the highest training stress each week. You can see how this would be a useful indicator for longer race distances (marathon distance etc), but perhaps less so for shorter race distances. A key consideration is that any interpretation of muscular endurance should take account of the specificity of target race distance. Clearly, the specific muscle endurance required by a 1500m runner is very different to that required to run a good marathon.

Whilst Stryd’s runner profile is an interesting addition, the suggestions really need to be considered in relation to the race distance you are focusing on.

Another feature of the Stryd Powercenter is the training heat map (see mine below). This highlights your run training history in terms of power vs duration. Stryd describes the bright red areas as the combinations of power and intensity that you frequently achieve during training. The orange dot indicates the maximum power that you’ve achieved for that training/racing duration. The upper limits of this power curve give you an indication of the power that can be achieved in a race situation.

You can also see a comparison of your time in each training zone, compared against Stryd’s recommendations for your chosen race distance.

Stryd Power Meter Training Heatmap
If you’re looking to analyse the data on other platforms, or, looking to dive into the data a bit deeper, then Stryd is compatible with a number of other popular training platforms such as Garmin, Polar, FinalSurge, TrainingPeaks, WKO4, Golden Cheetah, SportTracks, Apple Watch, Suunto, Strava, Zwift, Xhale.

Stryd Footpod Battery Life

Stryd advertise their battery life as being 20 hours of running time per charge. After well over two years use and a lot of consistent mileage I’m still getting around 15 hours use per charge. On a recent long run of 1hr 52mins, the Stryd battery level dropped by just 10% from 44% down to 34% which gives an indication of how good the battery life is after 2 years of use.

Stryd Footpod Durability

My Stryd footpod has proven to be highly durable. It’s been used in all weather conditions including long runs in extremely wet and muddy conditions and worked equally well in all conditions.

Where I've Found The Stryd Footpod Useful

Pace and Distance Accuracy

I’ve found Stryd to provide a greater level of accuracy when compared with a standard GPS measurement of pace and distance. Overall, the pace is more consistent with less pace fluctuations, compared with GPS pace. This is evident when doing track sessions (where gps tends to overestimate pace and distance) and also when running in areas where gps devices struggle and are less consistent, such as in built up areas and woodland.

During track sessions Stryd has proved more accurate and when running in woodland areas, stryd pace remains very consistent. Because of this I’ve set my Garmin watch to use the Stryd footpod to measure both pace and distance. I now only use the GPS data as a record of geolocation of the run.

I do still find that like with GPS devices, the Stryd Footpod can slightly overestimate distance during faster track sessions, although to a lesser extent. 

Stryd Calibration

If you find the stryd Footpod significantly overestimates, or, underestimates distance, you can adjust the calibration factor to increase accuracy and compensate for this.

Stryd Calibration factor = ( Actual distance / Stryd recorded distance ) x 100.

So, if you run intervals at a running track and Stryd measures your 1000m reps as 1010m, then you would have a calibration factor of 99.0. This can normally be adjusted within your watch settings for “sensors and accessories”. You also have the option to set the calibration factor to auto calibrate using GPS recorded distance. Although, this is not recommended as GPS pace/distance tends to be less accurate than Stryd.

It’s worth noting that if running intervals/repetitions with a standing, rather than active recovery, you may find Stryd takes a few seconds to activate at the start of each interval/repetition. To avoid this reducing your data accuracy opt for an active recovery. This is more effective for most interval training sessions anyway.

Using Stryd running power to control training intensity

Using Stryd to measure running power is useful for keeping your running training intensity consistent and within the correct training zones. This is useful during recovery/easy and more steady pace sessions. It can also be useful during more intense threshold sessions.

Stryd can be particularly useful for helping to control training intensity when running over undulating terrain. Here power has one major advantage over heart rate – changes in power can be seen instantly. The moment you run up a gradient power will increase significantly and you can then reduce work rate to keep within your target training zone.

Heart rate is much slower to react. 

In fact if you’re controlling intensity by heart rate then you’re playing catch up. And, always one step behind. With heart rate monitoring you’re reacting to an increase in work rate but only after  a physiological response (increased heart rate) has already occurred. So in effect your reacting to the physiological response to increased work, rather than the increase in work rate. With power you can react to increases in power before a physiological response occurs.

Power can also be useful when controlling running intensity on different terrains. Using pace targets is clearly effective when running on a running track or on flat tarmac surfaces. However, when running in muddy off road conditions – such as during cross country training sessions – pace is not effective for controlling intensity. Here, power can be used to ensure you are working at the correct intensity.

So is power more useful than heart rate?

Definitely not. Both power and heart rate are useful measures of intensity in their own right. And, whilst power lets us see almost instantaneous changes in work rate; heart rate is key during more prolonged exercise sessions.

Power doesn’t account for how you’re feeling on a given day. It doesn’t account for physiological factors like illness, fatigue, stress, or day to day variations in fitness. It doesn’t account for the effects of temperature, dehydration and cardiac drift. Cardiac drift is where heart rate continues to rise over time, even when exercise intensity is kept constant.

So whilst power is useful, it also has limitations. And, overly focussing on power, or pace, can lead to you pushing too hard on days when your body is telling you to back off.

The key is to use both heart rate and power.

Using power and heart rate together is highly effective. Giving us a more complete picture of work rate and overall training intensity. Power allows us to maintain a more even work rate. Allowing us to responding to changes in work rate before they have a physiological effect. Heart rate monitoring allows us to account for changes in physiological stress during longer workouts.

Running power and efficiency

The power data from Stryd can be used to measure running efficiency, which can then be used to monitor improvements, over time. This can easily be calculated manually by dividing power (in watts per kg) by speed in meters per second. Essentially, this tells you the energy cost of running at a given speed. 

When this decreases it indicates a reduction in the energy cost of running and hence improved efficiency. 

This should be assessed/compared over similar running speeds as efficiency can vary across different speeds. Values below 1.0 indicate a higher level efficiency, although this can vary greatly between runners.

Stryd Race Power

Another feature of Stryd is that it provides a calculation of race power. This can be used to keep power within specific targets during a race. By doing this we keep our effort level more consistent, which helps to maximise race performance. So if you lack confidence in your ability to pace correctly you should find this useful. It’s also useful on undulating courses where it can otherwise be difficult to keep effort level consistent. Whilst I personally prefer to focus more on perceived effort during races, I do also use power to help to keep intensity consistent. I just don’t overly focus on this in a race situation.

In my case the Stryd race power calculation has proved to be very accurate across a range of distances. In the build up to a half marathon race, the Stryd race power calculator predicted a race power of 332watts for the half marathon race distance. Whilst I didn’t overly focus on power during the race, I did check power intermittently for reassurance and to maintain a consistent power when running up hills. Later analysis showed the average power for the half marathon was very close to Stryd’s predicted race powe (334w vs 332w). So, even though I wasn’t actively focussing on controlling power during the race there was only a 0.6% difference between predicted and actual! Clearly demonstrating the accuracy of Stryd’s prediction.

Stryd Race Power Half Marathon

Stryd race power and hills

Whilst the ideal is to keep power as consistent as possible, there needs to be some variation on undulating courses. When accounting for hills I find it works better to go slightly above target power/effort level on the uphill, and slightly below target power/effort level on the downhill. Attempting to maintain the race power targets on downhill sections can be feel quite challenging and may compromise your race performance.

Using Stryd to provide training insights

Stryd has proved useful for identifying run sessions to target key areas such as leg spring stiffness.

How I used Stryd to optimise training for improved leg spring stiffness

Leg spring stiffness is a measure of how effective your muscles and tendons are at utilising energy during running. This can vary significantly between runners, but an increase in LSS is believed to indicate improved running efficiency. One key area that I’ve found useful with the Stryd footpod, is being able to identify which training sessions appear to provide the greatest training stimulus for improving leg spring stiffness.

Below is an example of a hill running training session targeting leg spring stiffness. In this session Leg Spring Stiffness can be seen to increase significantly during the hill intervals. Gradually returning to normal during the downhill recoveries.

Leg Spring Stiffness - Hill Sprints

In the second example – a slightly different hill session – leg spring stiffness was relatively unaffected during the hill intervals, with only a small difference between the up hill and the downhill recovery period.

Stryd Footpod Leg spring stiffness hill training
Although the power per interval was similar between hill session 1 (400w average per hill interval) and session 2 (418w average), there was a big difference between the measured leg spring stiffness in session 1 (11.4KN/M per interval) and session 2 (9.8KN/M), with LSS being over 16% higher in session 1. This is something I’ll expand on in a future article.

Some other training insights I've gained from Stryd

As well as the insights into training and leg spring stiffness, using Stryd has given me insights into which sessions are more effective for cadence development vs stride length development. And also the effectiveness of different track and hill interval sessions. Again I’ll expand on some of these in future articles.

Stryd Footpod Summary:

I’ve found Stryd a very useful addition for analysing training sessions as well as giving insights into their effectiveness. It provides a highly accurate measure of pace and distance and also provides other useful running metrics including cadence, ground contact time, running power, form power, leg spring stiffness and vertical oscillation. Running power has proved useful especially on days where I’m looking to keep training intensity within a specific zone, although heart rate, and RPE, should not be ignored. It has a very high level of durability, and excellent battery life even after two years of high mileage usage.

Stryd Footpod Cost - Is it worth the price?

Whilst Stryd isn’t cheap, I do believe it to be of good value especially when compared with top end GPS watches. 

Not only does it provide additional and useful training data, it also provides a very high level of accuracy. And if cost is an issue, consider pairing Stryd with a less expensive GPS watch. I currently combine my Stryd with the Garmin 735xt, giving me more useful training data than I would get from a more expensive top end GPS watch.

Considering buying a Stryd Footpod? You can help to support the training4endurance website by purchasing a Stryd footpod using the link below:

Stryd Footpod Key Points:

  • The Stryd Running power meter is a high end running footpod that measures a number of key running metrics: running power, pace, distance, cadence, ground contact time, vertical oscillation, form power, leg spring stiffness as well as elevation
  • It’s compatible with a large number of GPS running watches
  • Provides a highly accurate measure of pace and distance.
  • Can be used to control training and racing intensity. Being particularly useful when running over undulating terrain.
  • Can be used to assess running efficiency and gain insights into training effectiveness.
  • Particularly useful when combined with heart rate monitoring. Giving a more complete view of training intensity.
Overall, I’ve found Stryd very useful for running training analysis and monitoring of training loads and will continue to use it as my primary means of monitoring training.

Found this article useful? Don't forget to share it...

Share on facebook
Facebook
Share on twitter
Twitter
Share on pinterest
Pinterest
Share on linkedin
LinkedIn
Share on reddit
Reddit