Some Early Thoughts: Stryd on a Treadmill

I’ve had a few runs using my Stryd but this was the first one on a treadmill.  Here’s my experience– and some ideas about how to use it to improve my running while making indoor running more bearable.

First Power ReadingSo far, my Stryd has been great.  Outdoors, it seems to work just as expected– running up a hill and power goes up while running downhill and power goes down.  Running faster and power goes up while running slower and power goes down.  That’s exactly what’s supposed to happen but hardly an indicator of reliability.

Treadmill and the Stryd

Things change on a treadmill.  At first, everything seemed to go fine.  After I started my run, I settled into a pace of about 7.5 mph (8:00 per mile) and just kept it there.  For me, this is a pretty moderate pace– neither fast nor slow.  It isn’t a pace I’d want to run all day at but it isn’t lackadaisical either.  I also set my iPhone to display and record my running data.  While my power data fluctuated around, my power was roughly around 279 watts– pretty much where it was at on my last run outdoors.  Interestingly, while my power was appearing just fine, my pace was consistently showing up as 0.0 min/mile.  Apparently, the Stryd app was using my iPhone’s GPS for speed measurements– probably a different result if I were using my Garmin and imported into Stryd’s PowerCenter (Stryd’s online training log).

Power Running UphillRunning DownhillOkay, after a few more miles, I performed some experiments.  First, I cranked the grade up to 5% and settled into the (pretty hard) effort for about a minute.  But my power dropped to 253 watts!

Then, I dropped the grade on the treadmill to -3%– a pretty decent downhill.  Quite a relief after the uphill effort.  I settled in for a minute and my power reading went up to 279 watts!

If you’re used to using a power meter on the bike, you’ll recognize that these aren’t big power fluctuations– hardly indicative of the huge disparity in effort levels.  Plus, the power fluctuated in the wrong direction!  It’s pretty fair to say that grade isn’t factored in entirely properly on the treadmill for the Stryd.  Admittedly, this was a bit of an unfair experiment– it would be pretty hard to imagine how any device that is mounted on a heart rate monitor belt could ever factor treadmill grade into account.

Cool Training Idea for Stryd on the Treadmill

Not one to give up, I kept playing around, now increasing my pace to about 7:30 per mile and leveled out the treadmill to 0% grade.  I thought about what the Stryd must be looking at– ground contact time, cadence, impact forces, etc.  I was also on a recent webinar with Stryd where they mentioned that it’s a great tool for measuring running efficiency.

Running Inefficiently Running EfficientlyOn a whim, I started experimenting with efficiency.  By way of background, my physical therapist is a running form junkie.  After some careful videotaping, he recommended:

  • increasing my stride rate (to around 90 strides a minute),
  • tilting my pelvic backwards and keeping my abs tight,
  • keeping my foot strikes light and fast (running on coals), and
  • leaning forward slightly

When I focused on my stride rate, not much changed.  Only when I brought all the cues together that I noticed that my power dropped– a lot.  And, each time that I let my mind slip, my power went right back up again.  Then, each time I focused on all the cues again, my power went down again.

First Thought: Efficient Doesn’t Mean Easy

One thing that I noticed was that it was darn hard keeping at the same pace at a low power output.  In fact, by the end of my 30 minutes workout, my abs really hurt.

Second Thought: Stryd is a Great Realtime Efficiency Tool on the Treadmill

My second thought was that the Stryd might be a great tool for developing running efficiency.  Improving running form is crazy hard because, while we can learn a specific tweak to our running form, it’s hard to keep at it without a good feedback mechanism.  Adding one tweak might be possible  Adding a bunch of small changes, however, is really, really hard– especially if we’re not strong enough to comfortably maintain those tweaks.  Stryd serves as a great feedback mechanism on the treadmill because every other factor affecting power (e.g. speed, grade, wind, etc) can be kept constant– thus, Stryd can tell you exactly when those form cues starts to slip.

While I was running, I came up with the idea of doing “efficiency intervals.”  I kept running at the same pace but tried to keep my power as low as possible for two or three minutes.  It was mentally exhausting and tough on my abs!  I would then recover for 30 seconds or a minute at a higher wattage– running a little sloppy at a lower cadence. Once my brain was ready to go again, I’d hit another “efficiency interval” of low wattage running.

Third Thought: Stryd as a Treadmill Boredom Killer

As we all know, running on a treadmill is deadly dull.  This is especially true for easier or maintenance runs.  But the mental effort required for these “efficiency intervals” sure made the time pass faster on my run.   This made me think that this would be a great workout for those frequent rainy days in Seattle– particularly during the base period.  So I could recover while becoming stronger and more efficient– all while staying dry and keeping my mind occupied.  Now, that’s a pretty cool workout.  Thanks Stryd!

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