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Running with Power Revisited – Advanced Analysis with Steve Palladino | EP#93

 January 16, 2018

By  Mikael Eriksson

Running with Power Revisited - Advanced Analysis with Steve Palladino | EP#93

Steve Palladino is a running coach at Palladino Power Project specializing in running with power. In this episode we go deep into some advanced concepts in the analysis you can do with running power meter data.

Discuss this episode!

  • 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:

  • Palladino Power Project training zones
  • Training Load Quantification with running power meters
  • Running effectiveness, its uses, and how to improve it
  • Leg spring stiffness, its uses, and how to improve it
  • Analysis in Stryd Powercenter, WKO4, Training Peaks, or spreadsheets?

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About Steve Palladino

1:47 - 

  • He is a running coach at the Palladino Power Project and he specializes in running with power.
  • He's a former former elite runner with a 2:16 marathon PR and he was a qualifier for the 1980 Olympic trials in the US.
  • Today, he coaches runners from high schoolers to post-collegiate athletes and age-groupers. 
  • You can find him on the Palladino Power Project Facebook group, and you can see all his previously published articles here.

Running Power Training Zones

4:16 -

  • Instead of relying on already existing power training zone systems, Steve developed his own training zones using a variety of sources. Inclding the zones that were developed prior to his own, his own athletes and how they raced (what kind of power they produce relative to their functional threshold power), and general exercise physiology. 
  • Steve's zones differ from others in a few distinct ways:
    • I saw three different activity levels on the easy aerobic side. There's the, that level where most runners just run their easier runs.  It's around 75 to 80 % of functional threshold power (FTP). Then there's warming up for intervals which is a little bit easier. And then also a third one is running between intervals, which is easier still. 
    • Zone 3 is where the action starts happening in terms of higher level training. It also coincides with, with marathon pace. Most amateur runners are running a marathon between 88 and maybe up to 92 % of FTP. I broke zone 3 into two zones, 3A and 3B. There is that introduction of higher intensity running starting at 88% (marathon power) and gets close to half marathon power (94-95%). 

      Then you get into 3B, which is about half marathon power, 94-95 % up through your functional threshold power (100%), which for most people is between a 10 kilometer race and a 15 kilometer race.
    • In Zone 5, your classic VO2max training zone, Steve's power range is significantly lower than e.g. Jim Vance's. That's because he's found in his coaching (and Mikael completely agrees) that the 116-128% FTP that Vance prescribed is too high to be sustained in a normal VO2max workout. Steve's 106-116% ends up matching VO2max pace much better, and allows runners to complete intervals and workouts at this intensity. 

Quantifying training load with running power meters

17:08 - 

  • I'm currently looking at four different methods of tracking training load using different algorithms. Running stress score (RSS, Stryd's own metric), running training stress score (rTSS, standard in e.g. Training Peaks), Andy Coggan's classic power based training stress score (TSS), and a fourth one that I have developed uses Running Effectiveness and power data to calculate a training load.
  • RSS is based on power; rTSS is based on normalised graded pace; TSS is based on power; Steve's metric is based on power and running effectiveness (speed per power-to-weight ratio). 
  • They all produce strikingly similar models of training load, chronic training load, acute training load, and training stress balance.
  • There are subtle differences. I like the one that I've developed with running effectiveness. I think it's a little bit more true, but we're splitting hairs. They're all pretty close in terms of the modeling they provide.

The greatest benefits of running power meters is not in the real-time application 

25:55 - 

  • The biggest benefit of running with power in my mind is not what you can do in real time. It's what you do in post-processing. The evaluation after the run.
  • And the biggest one is the power duration curve
Power Duration Curve - Stryd Running Power Meters

Stryd Power Center Power Duration Curve - Click to zoom

  • We talked earlier about power zones. Well, once you get above functional threshold power, then things get more and more gray or fuzzy at the borders of those zones. And really, if you want to do it properly, you are going to look at an individual's power duration curve and prescribe the higher intensity training from their power duration curve. This allows you to be more targeted for that individual. So I think the power duration curve is a big, big game changer in terms of individualizing training.
  • Running effectiveness is the ratio of speed to power. It's speed in meters per second divided by power as watts per kilogram. If you look at it another way, it's how effectively you are converting power to speed. This varies significantly from runner to runner.
  • One use case of it is just stratifying potential. If I get a young runner and their running effectiveness at threshold is 1.04, which is pretty good number, my eyes open up and I say this kid might have some potential.
  • By the same token, if we look at somebody who's running effectiveness is 0.97 at threshold it would tell me that we need to work on this.
  • It takes a lot of work, but there are interventions that do allow you to improve your running effectiveness. In essence, we are trying to improve your horizontal power ratio (how much of your power moves you forward, as opposed to vertically or laterally). 
  • Things you can do include various form drills, stretching the anterior hip flexors, increasing gluteal strength, and increasing sacroiliac mobility. All these little things contribute to improving horizontal power, which then in turn improve running effectiveness.
  • If someone is between 0.99 and 1.02 they're doing pretty well. If they're over 1.02 that's actually quite good. Elites are probably over 1.04. If someone's under 0.99 then I like to work on it, and I really get eager to work on it when it's below 0.98 at threshold power. 
  • With these benchmarks they're at threshold power on a flat surface, because running effectiveness is sensitive to intensity and it's also sensitive to hills. 
  • Learn more about Running Effectiveness in this article by Steve.
  • You can probably improve running effectivenss by improving Leg Spring Stiffness. This is the elastic recoil that we get from our soft tissues, muscles and tendons and fascia, that allows us to gain free energy propelling us forward without us actually having to produce power. It's free forward propulsion with no oxygen cost.
  • When looking at Leg Spring Stiffness, you always want to look at it normalized to wait. So divide your LSS with your kilograms in weight. 
  • What I look for as a benchmark is 0.15 as leg spring stiffness divided by weight. If someone's above that, they're pretty good. If they're below that, we want to address this a little bit more and certainly if they're down below 0.14. 
  • Things that help improve your LSS include form drills that are working on ground contact time. For example, skipping drills. And then the big one is plyometrics. Strength training in general is another option.

Stryd Power Center, WKO4, Training Peaks, and spreadsheets

43:36 - 

  • Use this Running with power spreadsheet - Make a copy of this for your own analysis. This will allow you to quickly and easily use some of the metrics, like Running Effectiveness, that you don't get e.g. in the Stryd Power Center.
  • You can get by pretty well without WKO4. The Stryd Power Center does have a power duration curve which allows the runner to identify areas of need and also perhaps even prescribe some their training off of that. 
  • The Power Center is not customisable, so you have to get your raw numbers (e.g. leg springs stiffness) and do things like normalisation to your weight in a spreadsheet.  

Rapid-fire questions

45:35 - 

Favorite book, blog, or resource related to triathlon or endurance sports:

What do you wish you had known or wish you had done differently at some point in your career?

  • One thing for sure. I wish I had power back in the day. That would make things a lot better in terms of tracking trending load and so forth.
  • Also, I had 2:16 marathon PR and I was training for the Olympic trials. I ran a 30 miler really intensely about two weeks before the Olympic trials marathon and I got an injured. I wish I could go back and not run that run and come in a little bit healthier and be able to run the trials. I think I was about 2:13 shape at that point.

Person in running or triathlon that you admire or look up to:

  • All my coaches, some researchers, and all my athletes. I can't single anyone out. 

Customised power-based training plans

Links, resources and contact

Links and resources mentioned

Connect with Steve Palladino

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.

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  • Given the fact that weight is a crucial metric to gauge running effectiveness and that it can easily vary through the day and even through a workout or race, what are the best strategies to have the athlete’s weight properly updated in order to be able to capture the more slow and subtle changes coming from training interventions?

    • Thanks for your comment Nuno, and for already emailing me Stryd’s response 😉

      For ideal accuracy it seems that weighing yourself before the workout is a good idea.

      However, note that even though the expression for RE (Running Effectiveness) includes weight, the power you get from Stryd also depends on weight, and for RE, these two weight terms cancel out. So it is in fact power that is the sensitive metric to weight and not RE.

      RE = speed / (power / weight), and power with Stryd is proportional to the weight set in your Stryd settings (power equals weight times acceleration divided by time).

      So, the two weight terms cancel out here. Which means that for RE, it’s not critical to have weight set exactly right. Personally, I don’t think the daily and hourly changes in weight are big enough factors to warrant weighing yourself and changing the settings before every run. If I run 1-1.5% to hard or too easy, I’m not too bothered to be honest. But that’s just my personal opinion.

  • I think running effectiveness is an interesting concept, yet it has to approached carefully and specifically. Don’t assume the RE from training is your general RE. Measure it during high intensity intervals or races, because that resembles the real thing. I measure 1.055 during 800’s and 1500’s while only measuring an RE of 0.97 during training at low intensity

    • You’re absolutely right. We can only use RE in comparisons of apples to apples, so only workouts of similar intensities, and you can only compare a triathlon 10k RE with another triathlon 10k, not an open 10k, to do these sorts of comparisons.

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