Until now, there has been no way to measure running power, except through sophisticated force-plate treadmills in a lab.
Running is a simple sport, perhaps to a fault. While you can get plenty of advice and personal coaching to improve your training, fitness and racing strategies, no one really teaches you how to run. But new wearable technology is showing there is a lot we can learn, no matter what level of running experience we have.
In the past decade, there has been lots of discussion (as well as books, articles and videos) about running form and how optimal running mechanics (via drills, core strength, footwear and gait style) can lead to a runner becoming more efficient. While runners have counted footsteps to measure their cadence and monitored their heart rates to determine cardiovascular performance, those aren’t indicators of how much energy they are expending during a run or an indication of how efficient they are.
Last fall and earlier this winter I had the chance to wear-test a soon-to-be-released device called Stryd, a sophisticated-yet-simple tool that could soon become the first true wearable power meter for running. Stryd (Stryd.com) is being developed by a Boulder, Colo., startup spearheaded by Li Shang, Ph.D., an electrical, computer and energy engineering professor at the University of Colorado, and Robert Dick Ph.D., an electrical engineering and computer science professor at the University of Michigan.
What can a power meter tell a runner? Just as in cycling—a sport that has used power as a training and racing metric for years—a runner’s total power output can be quantified with a single number and, when accessible in real time (either audibly through earphones or visually on the screen of a phone or watch) can give a fairly direct indication of how hard that runner is working at that particular moment. That kind of information can be used to monitor progress during a workout or race, improve efficiency immediately or over time or simplify training objectives.
Bringing power into running with this technology serves two purposes, Shang told me. “If you think about the motion of running, it’s really just (the act of) jumping on springs and your legs are the springs,” he said. “So really, the power measurement is helping you understand the motion of your core body and how much power it takes to move your body that way with your legs.”
Read more: Competitor.com