Effective run training and race planning using the Stryd running power meter with Matt Bevil | EP#143
Learn how to train more effectively using running power meters and how to race better with proper power planning in this interview with Matt Bevil, Director of Coaching at Stryd.
- Let's discuss this episode and the topic in general. Post any comments or questions in the comments at the bottom of the shownotes. Join the discussion here!
In this Episode you'll learn about:
- How to train at the right intensity using power. Not in the right zone, but at the right intensity.
- How to perform better on race day using power data in your race planning and execution.
- Using Leg Spring Stiffness (LSS) to identify fatigue, and its application for injury prevention.
- Muscular endurance training - quantifying hill training using run power data.
- What's next for Stryd and running power meters?
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About Matt Bevil
- Matt is the coaching director at Stryd, the company that makes the running power meters we have discussed in previous episodes
Race power planning
- We're at a point with running power where we have a lot of new adopters.
- People are using the device with training and collecting data, which is a great start.
- The next step is people following a training plan and doing workouts based on power.
- This is the intended use.
- With that you have coaches prescribing training plans based on power.
- On race day, pacing with power allows you to gauge your intensity for the entire duration of the race.
- If it's a changing terrain, you can pace appropriately with power rather than pace or heart rate.
- This is the step people haven't got to - they've collected the data but haven't yet applied it.
- We're trying to promote this and educate about the strategies for power planning.
Racing with power
- Whether you want to keep the power the same throughout a race will depend on the course and your running style.
- E.g. If it's a varying terrain course with steep uphills and downhills - running these is a skill.
- Running downhill isn't as drastic as cycling in terms of power - you're leaning in to the hill and trying to keep up your cadence.
- Your power won't drop in the way it does with cycling.
- What we've found with coaches who use Stryd is they can prescribe in different ways.
- E.g. Chris Hague is fine with backing off the power on the downhill by approximately 10 watts, and then pushing the power going uphill.
- On the super elite side, if you're training for a 5k on the road, you're more racing the competition.
- You have to stay with the pack, so it's useful to look back after the fact to see where your energy was spent during the race.
- With trails and ultra running there's a whole other dynamic.
- There are more lateral movements and you might be switching from pure running uphill to hiking uphill.
- You'll be producing the power differently so you should have a different range for hiking the uphill compared to running it.
- Coaches are looking at this now - for example Andy Dubois, an Australian ultra and trail running coach, has just given a webinar on this area.
- In an ideal world if you're going out for a straight road race you should be aiming for even effort, even power.
- A simple, single power target to aim for that is easy to understand and follow.
- Psychologically this is beneficial because you aren't worrying about the time based goal.
- You separate yourself from the end goal and just focus on the moment and being at the power you are targeting.
Choosing your power target number
- We're not at the same point as cycling where you know you need to do about 80-85% of your FTP for a half Ironman bike.
- Even with that there is some variation.
- With running, we can develop a basic profile and figure out generally what percentage of your threshold power you should be able to hold for a certain distance.
- We have our own internal table that we share out - the Stryd race planning table (scroll down to page 18).
- E.g. For a marathon, 89.9%, for a 3k, 109.4% of threshold.
- That's based on the average runner.
Racing with Power - Target Power
- 800 m: 128.5 % of FTP (or 10k power)
- 1 mile: 116 % of FTP
- 3000 m: 109.4 % of FTP
- 5k: 103.8 % of FTP
- 10k: 100 % of FTP
- Half marathon: 94.6 % of FTP
- Marathon: 89.9 % of FTP
- There are going to be people who are either more slow twitch or more fast twitch.
- You also have coaches like Steve Palladino, Chris Hague, yourself Mikael, who can look at the runners running effectiveness and incorporate that into the calculation.
- It really comes down to what type of runner you are.
- How much you fatigue over different distances will change as a result of this.
- We can give a basic idea, and then from looking at their power duration curve, their training data, and knowing the athlete, you can narrow the power target down.
- Stryd is an extremely useful tool for the coach - it's not there to replace them.
- Using a marathon as an example:
- We do these at marathon expos - we invite anyone with Stryd and probably not a coach and we try to guess their average power for a marathon.
- A marathon's general target starting point is 89-90% of threshold.
- From there you can go back and look at power duration curve and long run data.
- We take into account RPE for those marathon runs.
- At 20 miles, how was your nutrition, how were your shoes, all the things you need to practice.
- You need to take these into account and adjust the target accordingly.
- Chris Hague gave a great webinar on triathlon race planning.
- That's a lot more difficult because there's more variables at play.
- You need to take advantage of race simulations.
- It comes down to having specific workouts where you work with your race intensity on the bike and then running with race intensity off the bike.
Triathlon Race Planning Webinar with Chris Hague
- Marathon is a little more simple - you can use 20 mile long runs to look at your marathon pace or marathon effectiveness.
- What Steve Palladino and others have done is create calculators that incorporate your running economy into your race power target.
- They can really give you a good idea of what your average power would be for a certain target time across different distances.
- I coach an athlete trying to qualify for 70.3 Worlds in a few weeks time.
- In training he did a specific workout: long bike (2.5-3 hours) with lots of race intensity in it.
- Off the bike he ran 45 minutes and went right into his target race power, which was around 92-93% threshold power.
- We'll use that, and a couple of other similar sessions with 50 minutes runs off the bike, to fine tune his power target for the race.
- In terms of quantifying it, with power you can more accurately adjust to environmental changes.
- For example going up to altitude or down to sea level.
- We're doing this a lot with Joe Gray, the trail runner.
- When we look at race planning he's climbing around 2000 feet in his races.
- We're trying to account for how much power will drop as his goes up in altitude.
- Steve Palladino also has a great article about altitude conversions.
- There's lots of other applications to it as well.
- If you're not racing to a power target you can still collect the data, it's simple to clip it on your shoe.
- A lot of elite ITU athletes now don't wear watches to receive live splits, but they'll wear Stryd and their coach can look at the data later.
Training at the right intensity using power
- There are different metabolic systems you can use for testing.
- You can do lactate testing, metabolic testing and VO2max tests in a lab.
- You get the numbers, and then you go out and train.
- However with Stryd you get to keep collecting the data.
- You can relate power to lactate or to your VO2 and see how your training is affecting these.
- The biggest benefit to Stryd is it's consistent in changes in intensity.
- Whereas heart rate or others might change, you can follow your intensity with power.
- For example, some of the tests we can do is with lactate curves.
- It's one of the more accurate ways of finding threshold zones.
- What you can then do is match up you lactate zones with power.
- You can then train to very precise power zones/intensities.
- The zones that are out there are more general, and every coach has a different philosophy there.
- Stryd's power zones are very basic and general.
- Each athlete's threshold zone may be shorter or longer than another athlete.
- This shows the importance of testing.
- Similar to what people have done in the past with heart rate or pace, but power is more accurate.
- There is less of a discrepancy between testing and actual training with power.
- Power can help prescription of training being more specific as well.
- We've worked a lot on refining our power data to reflect your actual energy expenditure.
- We've worked a lot on uphills and downhills in particular.
- To be able to get an accurate purely output stress score for running is huge.
Developments at Stryd
- We recently released the power hiking update.
- This is for trail and ultra runners for when they're running and switching to hiking - which is a different activity.
- We've done tests internally to improve the algorithm to reflect energy expenditure.
- We're constantly working on accounting for wind in our product.
- Wind isn't a huge factor until it is really strong winds, and then it's hard to compare.
- Power won't reflect things like running into a headwind and then having a tailwind later at the moment, but we're working on it.
- There's other things we need to improve on - without saying too much we're constantly innovating and improving the product!
Leg Spring Stiffness (LSS)
- To give background on the metric, typically you’ve only been able to measure Leg Spring Stiffness (LSS) in the lab on a force plate treadmill.
- With Stryd you can now get that metric for every run you go on, and every step you take.
- It's really changed how a lot of athletes are training.
- What we've learnt so far is there's two types of stiffness:
- Passive stiffness: mostly related to the cross link and collagen in the muscle joint system.
- Active stiffness: mostly related to the elasticity of your tendon.
- Different runners have different passive and active stiffnesses.
- If you look at a marathon runner compared to a sprinter you'll see different patterns in how their stiffness will change with speed.
- If you're a veteren marathon runner you may not see a drastic improvement in LSS, whereas a sprinter may have the ability to significantly increase their LSS with speed.
- It can also be helpful for fatigue and injury detection.
- To some extent, with more stiffness you may be at a higher risk of injury.
- However it may also be more efficient, so you need to find the balance.
- There seems to be a sweet spot middle ground for each type of runner, and we're trying to do more tests to identify this.
- You can watch for when LSS tapers off, and it provides a marker for where fatigue sets in.
- Monitoring this over time can give you an idea of how your training is improving your fatigue resistance.
- I've done workouts myself on a treadmill where I was clearly fatiguing as the tempo went on.
- I'd set the treadmill at a specific pace for a set time, and I was trying to hit that - it was about 300 watts that I was working at.
- Over the course of the run I was really struggling, and you can see my LSS drop off and instantly declining from around 10kN/m to 9kN/m towards the end.
- If you switch on other metrics such a cadence and ground contact time, you see that my cadence was increasing towards the end.
- I was maintaining the same power and pace but my cadence is increasing and my LSS was dropping off.
Matt's tempo run: Power (yellow) remins constant, but Leg Spring Stiffness (red) decreases as he was fatiguing, forcing him to exert himself harder and harder even at constant power.
- You can find your LSS in your Stryd Power Center.
- One of the well known running coaches in town always says running is stride rate times stride length - it's very basic.
- With LSS, it puts a magnifying glass on what's really happening with the athlete.
- Each athlete is different - you can reach the same pace by doing it differently.
Training muscular endurance
- Running power allows you to quantify actual metabolic stress and muscle endurance stress.
- In the Stryd Power Centre we provide a running spider chart breakdown of where you fall.
- We look at metabolic fitness, endurance, and muscle power.
- Endurance = how much stress can you accumulate during one run.
- Muscle power = strength, high end.
- Metabolic fitness = total training load.
- With hill workouts, it's targeting the muscle endurance which you can't always easily hit in a workout.
- Running off the bike is another way to target this type of fitness.
- This can help to look at how your run changes off the bike.
- You need to practice it to know your limit off the bike.
- It will also depend what you're doing on the bike - e.g. high versus low cadence.
- Hill workouts help get your body to produce power more efficiently.
- In cycling we've done low cadence for so long - e.g. 4 x 15 minute sweet spot low cadence.
- They are specific quantifiable muscle endurance workouts.
- We can now start to do this in running.
- I was running a training camp in Italy with some of my coached athletes.
- We did a long run (90 minutes) which included 45 minutes of high zone 3 running in the middle of the workout.
- First we did 10 minutes on a gently sloping downhill, and the last 35 minutes was all uphill.
- Without power it would have been much more difficult to execute it, and we wouldn't have known how well we did it without the power data.
- It's impossible to draw any conclusion from pace on those sort of workouts.
- Power adds a convenience to training - you can perform a workout anywhere, on any terrain.
- We talk a lot about seeing the marathon pace bands for specific courses.
- You're trying to change your pace target for each mile.
- Power eliminates this issue and gives you one number to focus on.
- It also increases the accuracy of runs on a treadmill, which are often not well calibrated.
- You can even input the grade in your Stryd moobile app, and power will be adjusted for that.
Future of running with power
- In terms of where we think it's moving it's less guided by us and more by the coaches and athletes using the product.
- The coaches that we've worked with in the past have really steered the direction of the project to where it is today.
- The metrics we focus on comes from that.
- There are so many coaches that have pioneered the running power revolution and pushed it to where it is now.
- We're continuing to follow this model.
- My role at Stryd is to work with these coaches and hear their feedback, and then channel it to our small team of engineers.
- It's really guided by athletes and coaches today, and we're trying to improve the product to help athletes improve.
Rapid fire questions
- What is your favourite book, blog or resource related to triathlon?
- What is your favourite piece of gear or equipment?
- My Stryd!
- I recently had the opportunity to test the Nike Vapour Fly's (allegedly 4% improvement in running eonomy?) - they were really interesting. I still prefer the Nike Pegasus, they're my go to training shoe.
- Who is somebody is running or endurance sports that you look up to?
- Bobbie McGee who is a coach here in Boulder. He has so much knowledge and I've worked with him in the past to get to where I want to be in triathlon. He's a class act and he's always so helpful and has been a great resource for me and for Stryd.
Links, resources and contact
Links and resources mentioned
Connect with Matt Bevil
Connect with host Mikael Eriksson
Hi! I'm your host Mikael,
I am a full-time triathlon coach and an ambitious age-group triathlete. My goal is podium at the Finnish national championships within the next few years.
I first started the website Scientific Triathlon in autumn 2015 as a passion project to share my learnings with a larger triathlon audience. Later on, in early 2017 I started the podcast That Triathlon Show.
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