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Is power really a better metric than pace and heart rate?
For decades now running’s cousin sport, cycling has understood the power of… power is the ultimate objective metric in a lot of areas of our lives including – endurance sports training and racing.
How does power in running work?
I mean we have heart rate, pace and the very accurate Rate of perceived exertion (RPE)… but how can you use running power to train and race smarter?
Find out the question to that answer and more in this episode.
This episode is near and dear to my heart. We nerd the F out and go deep on power in running. In particular the top 8 reasons why you should consider running.
I have yet to own or even use run power so this is something I’m deeply curious about.
Note – if you aren’t into metrics, physics and data then this might not be for you and feel free to go to another episode.
If you are into this stuff, then please keep listening on and share this with other run nerds!
Rather than have you wait around for The 8 reasons why running should be considered i’ll just give you a quick recap now
- IMPROVE YOUR RUNNING ECONOMY
- TO KNOW WHEN YOU’RE OVERTRAINING
- KNOW WHEN YOU STOP IMPROVING
- BOOSTs YOUR TRAINING SPECIFICITY
- Helps you GET YOUR POWER TO WEIGHT RATIO CORRECT
- UNDERSTAND PACE PER WATT
- PACE PERFECTLY
- SCIENTIFICALLY CHOOSE THE FASTEST SHOE FOR YOU !
What You Will Learn
- We’ll start off with a quick warmup to see where we are at in our current training
- Then get into the meat of this episode – running power
- Then end it with our episode question – would you rather focus on high cadence or longer stride length.
- You are the most efficient person in the world at doing sports the way you do it. If I tried to copy you, I would be less efficient as you.
- Power can be used in the lab to test to see how our output changes with different cadences and shoes.
- Power is a quicker feedback mechanism than heart rate
- Power is force over time. Every time you generate force with a push off of your foot and is a unit of energy that is measured in watts.
- The technology is there. It hasn’t been mass produced. I think it maybe comes down the fact that runners are basically tight, they don’t like spending money. Except on Vaporflys.
- If I run there could be a 3 minute lag. With power, if I put the pace, the power goes up instantly. Power is a much quicker feedback than heart rate.
- It’s using 3d accelerometer with an algorithm to estimate how much power you are putting out.
- Power is still an algorithm, estimating the power going up the hill and mud. It’s not a real figure.
- Power is hard to see on your watch as your arms are moving. There are still lots of things to overcome before it becomes a popular tool in the running world.
Questions Of The Episode
Would you rather have a high cadence or longer stride length?
- Should You Run with Power – https://www.instagram.com/reel/CSH7d2Vhbw3/
- Top 8 Tips Instagram Post – https://www.instagram.com/reel/CSJOuFfBnCX/
- Stryde Run Power – https://www.stryd.com/en/
- Stryde Wind Tunnel Testing with DC Rainmaker – https://www.dcrainmaker.com/2019/06/testing-in-the-wind-tunnel-with-stryds-new-running-power-meter.html
- Garmin Run Power Algorithm (estimator) – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UzH6dZAVy4E
- Coros Run Power Algorithm (estimator) – https://support.coros.com/hc/en-us/articles/360048461372-How-to-train-with-running-power-on-your-COROS-watch
- Suggested episode to listen to next: 6 Tips to run your best 5k race
- Podcast Concept, Production and Marketing BY POD PASTE
NRG COACHING (MIKE TREES) – SPONSOR
This episode is brought to you by NRG – Coaching which is Mike Trees’ coaching service. Mike coaches beginners to pros and all levels in between.
No one is too fast and no one too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve.
They focus on 1,500m to marathon running and triathlon training.
NRG Coaching is constantly overbooked, so Instagram and this new podcast venture, gives Mike and the rest of his NRG coaching team a way to reach out to more people.
Contact mike and his team NRG-COACHING.com for more info
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Full Transcript Below (or download pdf here)
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[DLake Creates intro]
Daren: For decades now, running’s cousin, sports cycling, has understood the power of power. It’s the ultimate objective metric in a lot of areas of our lives, including endurance sports training and racing. How does power and running work? We have heart rate, pace, and the very accurate, rate of perceived exertion, RPE. But how can you use running power to train and race smarter? And is it even for you? Find out the answer to that question and more on this episode of Trees and DLake.
[DLake Creates theme]
Daren: What is up? Welcome to Trees and DLake, a podcast series by Mike Trees, and yours truly, Daren, DLake Creates. In the series, our goal is to educate and entertain smart and committed runners, a bit more than that from Mike Trees.
Mike: [00:01:04] The aim of this podcast is to give in a lighthearted, amusing and entertaining way, hints and tips to help you run better and enjoy your sporting life more. Let’s see how we can go with that.
Daren: [00:01:17] Mike’s being pretty modest. He has over 50 years of running and doing triathlons under his belt. And if you’re wondering about me, I’ve been in the endurance sport game for about 25 years now. I’ve done a sub-three-hour marathon and completed an Ironman Triathlon in 10 hours.
We appreciate all the help and support that we can get. So, if you can please share out this episode to someone that you know that would like this. Oh, quick language warning, in some rare instances, we might use some bad words. So, apologies in advance for that.
This episode is near and dear to my heart. We nerd the eff out and go deep on power and running. In particular, the top eight reasons why you should consider running.
Power. I have yet to own or even use run power. This is something I’m deeply curious about. Just a quick note, if you aren’t into metrics, physics and data, then this might not be for you and feel free to go to another episode. But if you’re into this stuff, then please keep listening on and share this with another running nerd. Rather than have you wait around for the eight reasons why run power should be considered, I’ll give you a quick recap right now.
[00:02:17] One, it improves your running economy. Two, you can know when you’re overtraining. Three, it helps you know when you stop improving. Four, it boosts your training specificity. Five, helps you get your power to weight ratio correct. Six, you understand your pace per watts. Seven, you end up pacing perfectly with run power. Eight, you can use a scientific method to help you choose the fastest running shoe for you. Here’s what to expect in this episode format.
We’ll first start off with a quick warmup to see where we’re at in our current training. Then, we’ll get into the meat of the episode, obviously, running power. Then we’ll end it with our episode question, would you rather focus on high cadence or longer stride length? Enough blabbering from me, keep listening to find out more details about the eight tips for running power and if it’s for you.
Daren: [00:03:10] Hey, Mike, how’s your training going?
Mike: [00:03:14] Since last week, I’ve been locked up. Not allowed to train. Been back to hospital.
Daren: [00:03:20] All good?
Mike: [00:03:21] Yeah, it’s pretty much healed. So, I’m officially okay to get out and do some gentle training, they said. So, I’ve been out swimming, cycling, and running and pushing the boat out a little bit. How about with you? How’s the cold with you?
Daren: [00:03:37] The cold, I got over it, and ended up going to a proper specialist. Well, not specialist, but I was like, “Hey, this isn’t clearing up. I feel tired. What is this?” They’re like, “Did you get a COVID test?” “Yes, I got a COVID test, I don’t have COVID.” “Alright. Yeah, it’s just a sinus infection.” And you know how nonperformance endurance doctors, they’re like, “You just need to take off. You’re just tired.” “No, no, no, no. This isn’t normal. Leave me alone.” [laughs] And then, they’re basically were like, “It’s going to clear up.” Sinus infections take a while sometimes a few weeks, and they gave me this thing that tastes horrendous. Within 24 hours, I just started feeling like a new person.
But we’re not talking about workout volumes of sickness on this episode. We’re talking about something that’s near and dear to my heart as a cyclist, as a triathlete., and it’s very new in running and it is power.
Mike: [00:04:35] Interesting. I got into power in the early days. I started my distribution business and decided I was going to get back into coaching and sports and that’s where I’m happy being. I still have a business partner in the UK and we do fun little things together. About five years ago, maybe six years ago now, he said, “Mike, we’re going to get into power with running.” Stryd is where it’s at, a little gadget. We looked at this and started working with Stryd in measuring power. I learned quite a lot about power in the early days.
Daren: [00:05:14] What were the early days? Give me the exact timing, the year.
Mike: [00:05:19] Ooh, it could be seven years ago now? They literally had just developed power. I’d a little bit of power, obviously, cycling with triathlete. I know you have a few questions, but to simply differentiate between power in cycling and power in running, I met a renowned physicist, expert, computer specialist in terms of all algorithmic learning, but simply put, my take on it is power on the bike, for example, if you have it in the crank or wherever it is, it’s measuring the torque, it’s measuring how much pull there is. They can measure it in such micro, nanomillimeters, it’s pretty accurate. But it’s actually a physical measurement that they’re getting to work out how much power you are delivering when you are cycling.
But running, it’s an algorithm that’s estimating it. It’s not an actual measurement. It’s using three 3D accelerometers in the pod that measure your movement in time and space. They’re calibrated to work out an estimation of how much power you have.
For example, if you’re going uphill on a muddy course on the bike, you have to put out more power to do that. But if you’re going uphill on the sand, it’s not as accurate because it’s estimating how much more power you need to on a sand as opposed to tarmac, or on the tarmac opposed to grass. And it’s estimating how much the wind will take an effect on your running. It’s getting pretty good. And I think Stryd is still the market leader and they are the most accurate, but it’s not as exact science as it is in cycling, it’s still in an estimation. So, that’s a slight variation, slight difference between power in cycling and running.
Daren: [00:07:22] Great description. I actually did not know that. I’m sure I would have found that through hours of research. But it just took you two minutes to tell me that. So, that’s way easier. What exactly is running power? What is it in reference to heart rate pace at perceived rate of exertion?
Mike: [00:07:41] We need to go back further than that. Power is force over time. So, every time you run, you generate force with a push off with your foot, as you push off the ground. That is creating force. If you do 200 steps a minute, that force is a unit of energy that we call power, which is generally measured in so that power is a measurement of force over time. I wasn’t the world’s greatest physicist, so if any physicists out there they want to correct me, they can. I think it’s a pretty simple estimation of it.
What we tried to do is measure the force of each stride. On the bike, when we turn the pedal, we can measure that force directly through the power going through the crank. But with the running, again, as I said, we have a little pod down our foot, we have buried it, in the early days you actually have the heart rate monitor on the chest. But again, it’s estimating how much power we are doing. And it’s trying to come up with a number that we think could be more accurate than using heart rate, for example. Say if you’re a runner, and I have a lot of people, they run with a smartwatch, and it’s got an optical sensor, the heart rate is worth diddly-squat. [Daren laughs] [crosstalk] -like, “I can’t get my heart rate as low you. It’s always 220.” I’ll say, “Yep,” that’s because the optical sensor for whatever reason doesn’t work on you. There may be sweat on there, there may be dust on the optical monitor, it may be just picking up [unintelligible 00:09:22]. They’re not very accurate.
[00:09:29] There’s another way. You can actually calibrate the power to have zones, power zones, pretty much the same as you have with heart rate. So, you can say I’m running my– we’ll say your threshold, your lactic threshold we call it in running, is we’ll say 165 heart rate, it might be 300 watts running. So, you might say, “Well, my easy run is going to be 200 watts. My recovery run 150 watts, and my zone, if I absolutely caning it is going to be 400 watts.” And you can then try to calibrate your power with running to use that instead of heart rate. The idea is that it’s more instantaneous. So, if I pick up the pace running, there’s a time lag between my heart rate registering it, and then my actual heart monitor picking it up. So, it might see that I stopped running at threshold, which is– I’m going to use simple math, not a lot of people will run this quick. I only run three minutes per kilometer pace. So, I jumped the pace up to three minutes to come into pace. My heart rate is initially 120. It might take a minute or two minutes for that heart rate to drift up to the new level before it stabilizes.
[00:10:51] Science, they usually say three minutes. So, when you do scientific tests, that the heart rate is stable at the new level, they usually have you running for three minutes. If I run, it could be a three-minute lag between my heart rate stabilizing this new level. Whereas if I’m using power, and I have up the pace, the power goes up instantly, then I have a much quicker feedback. And that’s why power is considered to be a useful tool. It’s much quicker feedback than you get from heart rate.
Daren: [00:11:21] Yeah. Pace was the gold standard for metrics to focus on in a lot of things, and we talked about that in our last podcast together– or sorry, many, many podcasts ago together, where you were like pace, pace, pace because pace, it’s mostly indicative of what’s happening. But even then, pace uphill is where things get a bit tricky, because a lot of people exert too much force and too much power, and they zap themselves on hills. And then, when they go down a hill, and this the same thing with cycling, a lot of people can’t hold power down hills, when that’s when you need to be holding power, and it takes you a while of having a power meter when you ride a bike to understand.
[00:12:07] Man, holding 250 watts going down a hill is quite difficult to do. It’s easy to do going up a hill, a lot of people zap themselves doing too much power. The same could be said about running where you can start, I guess, feathering the gas, as they say, and really going, “I don’t need to really go-” knowing, this is where I need to be for this race, or this [crosstalk] whatever it is, “This is where I need to be.” I then can get to the end of race feeling good, I’ll have a kick at the end of the race, based on the race profile. That’s my take on it.
Mike: [00:12:38] Yes. I agree. Again, the thing that power is a quicker feedback mechanism than heart rate. That’s one of the advantages of training to power. As you’re going up the hill, a short burst over the top of a hill, your heart rate might not actually rise until you go over the top of that hill. Whereas if you look into power numbers, you might think, “Oh, actually, I need to just keep it a nice constant pace. I normally slow down, but so long as I’m putting out the same power, I’m actually running more efficiently,” because in a race, you want to keep that power number as constant as possible. So, it’s quite useful little tool for keeping the pace constant.
That’s one advantage over pace alone. If you’re going off road, on road, uphill, downhill. There’s lots of differences, that you could argue the power is a good tool. But then again, you can also argue the other side of the coin, that power is still an algorithm on the running. It’s not like a bike, like an exact number. It’s still estimating the power going up that hill, it’s still estimating the power going through the mud, it’s not giving you an absolute figure.
[00:13:48] The people who haven’t converted to power yet, they’ll say, “Well, it’s not 100% accurate.” At least heart rate is what I’m actually doing, it’s an actual number whereas power in running is still an estimation. It’s a pretty good estimation and I would say Stryd is still the best estimation, but there’s some pretty ropey ones out there as well, where it’s just a very simple algorithm that it’s not worth doing. So, you have to make sure you have a pretty accurate power meter. In cycling, all the power meters are pretty much accurate now. There might be a little difference between the readings but they’re constant, each one will give a constant reading as long as you get used to working with your meter. Whereas with running, there’s a lot of ones that don’t really have the accelerometers and the profile set up correctly, so there’s some spurious reading still coming out in running with power.
Daren: [00:14:42] Ah, good to know. With cycling, I’ve tried a few different power– pedal-based power meter, there’s the hub-based one, PowerTap. I never had a crank based one, but I know that based on the different ones, your power meter is accurate to your bike. So, you can’t go, “Oh, this hub-based one compared to this pedal-based one.” So, I know there’s discrepancies in that sense.
Mike: [00:15:10] [crosstalk] -exactly.
Daren: [00:15:12] Also, I tried wind, air, wind-based power meter that was really damn accurate. That was really interesting because it was like half the price of the power meters, like $250. This was four or five years ago when power meters were coming in. They were starting to come down, but they were about $500-$600 for a one-sided Garmin pedal. And then, this wind-based one came out and DC Rainmaker, who I’m sure a lot of people know, who does the reviews and all the fitness tech stuff, and he was like, “This thing is accurate.” I was like, “Holy shit.” I’m quoting him. “I don’t care if it’s a hamster inside of a wheel. I want you to know this damn thing is accurate. I don’t care how pretty it is. I don’t care how much you fucking cost. Is this thing accurate?” I was like, “Amen, sir.” It needs to be accurate and consistent throughout. Whenever he does a power meter test, it’s hilarious. He has literally eight different power meters. He has three watches, four different computers on his bike. And he’s testing, he has the graphs and he shows the different ones. And he’s like, “This is really–” Even when you coast, it was accurate.
I digress. I will talk about cycling too much. It’s the only thing I have because I have yet to have power. I’m very, very interested. What are the tips to get started? Someone like me, I understand the power metric very well. I would say I’m a serious athlete. I’m far from elite, but I’m very serious. I’m somewhat fast, objectively speaking. So, how should I get started? How can I get started, by the power meter first? [chuckles]
Mike: [00:16:50] Short of actually going to a lab and doing lab testing, which really you should do it running but nobody does, they just go out and do 220 minus the rate and off they go and work out the heart rate zone.
Daren: [00:17:11] This episode is brought to you by NRG Coaching, which is Mike Trees’ coaching service. Mike and his team of coaches work with beginners to pros and all levels in between. No one is too fast and no one is too slow. They just want a desire to learn and improve. They focus on 1500-meter races, to marathon running and triathlon training. NRG Coaching is constantly overbooked. So, Instagram and this new podcast venture, Trees and DLake, gives Mike and the rest of his NRG Coaching team a way to reach out to more people and help them. Contact Mike and his team at nrg-coaching.com or go to the link in the show notes.
[and back to the show]
Mike: [00:17:55] I’ll also say that if you’re a bit more serious, you’ll go out and work out what your maximum heart rate is, work out some zones, then do some training, look at the heart rate over time and tweak it and recalibrate it and pretty much work out what your zones are for you, rather than taking them off a book. That’s where we’ve got to with a lot of training my athletes. I’ll keep tweaking their heart rate zones, as they do 10k run, half-marathon runs and different things and we’ll work out where we’re at. But what you can then do is you can then go out and put the power meter on the pod on your foot and run and see what powers you put out in a different zone and start to try calibrating the power meter to the heart rate.
Daren: [00:18:37] Is there [unintelligible [00:18:38] test? Sorry.
Mike: [00:18:40] For the power meter?
Daren: [00:18:41] Yeah.
Mike: [00:18:41] You go out and run, and they have a tracking run. They track and do an FTP test like you would do with the standard. I would say an FTP test, you better be on a treadmill that it’s constant.
Daren: [00:18:53] Oh, good to know. Very good. It’ll be interesting to do an FTP test on the field. FTP is functional threshold power. [crosstalk] I’d say it’s similar to–
Mike: [00:19:04] [crosstalk] -threshold.
Daren: [00:19:06] Exactly.
Mike: [00:19:07] Functional threshold power is technically the equivalent of your lactate threshold. You want to know whether you’re working aerobically or anaerobically is a simple way of putting it. If your functional threshold power, for example, comes out at 240, then running up to 240 watts means you’re running aerobically, and over 240 watts means you’re running anaerobically. So, you can use the power threshold to vary your speed.
Daren: [00:19:39] It’s always a mixture too. It’s a mixture of both, aerobic and anaerobic, when you get around the threshold, correct?
Mike: [00:19:47] That’s the way you’re complicating. [Daren chuckles] [crosstalk] -keep it simple though. I’ve said this before, threshold level is actually, it’s like it’s snowing, and when it snows really heavily, it builds up and the snow builds up. When it snows lighter, it melts. That’s pretty much the threshold. It’s not a pinpoint, it’s a zone really of building up lactic and reabsorbing it out the body. But that said, going back to the power, you can use that power as a number. Now, people say it’s not very common in running as opposed to cycling.
When you’re cycling, you’re on the bike, you look down at the speedometer or the power meter right in front of you as a nice big figure and it’s not shaking around. When you’re running. I’ve tried to focus on my running and every time I have to look at the watch to see what my power number is, I’m upsetting my running action, I’m not running naturally anymore. “Was it 250? Was it 239?” It’s not the same on the bike. I can see the number and I know it’s an accurate number, and it’s a representation, and away I go.
[00:20:58] Also on the bike, you’d argue that you have inertia, that the wheels are moving and the bike is moving. It’s easy actually to back off a little bit on the bike and still keep rolling along and think that you’re working hard. Whereas you don’t have wheels when you’re running. Each time you hit the ground, you’re creating that force and you’re going. There isn’t the same change in power as easily as, as quickly as you have in cycling. So, that number is more important. I can be cycling along, we’ll say, my threshold is 250 and the wind changes direction and I’m still going the same speed, and I look down, “Wow, I’m only putting 150 watts,” but it still feel as it’s quite tough, so it’s quite useful to think on the bike, “Yes, I’ve got to up my power,” but the running is much more feeling, the power doesn’t vary that quickly, you’re not going to drop from 150 or go up to 250 that easily. You have to make a real conscious effort to change the pace because you don’t have the wheels like you do on the bike that can keep you moving and the inertia.
[00:22:04] Also, it’s harder to see the watch when you’re running because the upper arms are moving. So, it’s not as popular in running like you do in cycling. There’s still lots of little things to overcome in running that is stopping power from becoming a popular tool in the running world.
Daren: [00:22:24] It sounds like once the heads-up display glasses become [crosstalk] I thought Google Glasses were going to do that– There’s another company, I think, it’s called Raptor, they have the heads-up display for running and cycling, which is just a bit too expensive. I can’t justify a toy– [crosstalk]
Mike: [00:22:41] -swimming now. By the way, FORM googles in swimming–
Daren: [00:22:45] Oh, really?
Mike: [00:22:45] [crosstalk] -they do heart rate, they do stroke rate, they do speed, they do lap and everything.
Daren: [00:22:52] Oh, man.
Mike: [00:22:54] The technology is there. It hasn’t been mass produced. I think it maybe comes down the fact that runners are basically tight, they don’t like spending money.
Daren: [00:23:03] Except on Vaporflys. [chuckles] They’ll drop $300-$400, whatever it is, in your country for a Vaporfly in a second. And then after 300 kilometers, they’re buying the next pair of Vaporflys. I think when the heads-up display comes into play–
Mike: [00:23:20] That’d be a big game changer.
Daren: [00:23:22] With Apple Glasses, there’s a lot of rumors floating around that Apple is going to be the first one to do it and they’re going to have AR. If I could have all my metrics from my watch, I could just put it up here with my glasses on. [crosstalk] It gives me a map for cycling, if I’m going to in some metro ride, I can see my heart rate over here, I can see my pacing, my power over here. Holy shit. That’s what I think is going to be a game changer. And if they can make them $500 or whatever, I think, then you know– For me, I’d get the glasses, I have to get the new Garmin because my problem is that I have the old fēnix 3. It works fine. I think it’s starting to be on its last leg for a few reasons. But I need to get the new fēnix, I think, 6 minimum to be able to track the power metric. I can’t even get running power on this watch. Therefore, I have to upgrade my watch, I have to buy the Stryd power meter. I’m in Australian dollars, so you have to do 1.5 times US dollars. And then, if want to get glasses, it’s like $2,000 Australian later, I’ve got running power and I’m like, “Is that worth it? Is that actually worth it?”
Mike: [00:24:31] We’ve answered our own question, haven’t we, about why it’s not big in running just yet.
Daren: [00:24:36] Yeah, exactly. Question, just going back to what you’re talking about running in different conditions, how does the power meter know that you’re in mud, sand, tarmac, wind?
Mike: [00:24:47] It doesn’t. When I was working with Stryd, they hadn’t actually got those algorithms up and running. Now, they’ve got one that takes account of this event, I think, where the wind flows, it takes account of the wind, so that’s more accurate now. But I still think that running on the surfaces still not quite there. I stand to be corrected on that, but I know wind is much better taken account of now, but the surface one is still a problem, I think.
Daren: [00:25:22] Good to know. This is the question that I’ve been struggling with– not struggling with, but it’s my burning question, and since you’re a pro athlete and you know Stryd very well, and you know a lot of cool pros, you might be able to answer this. I don’t know of any, I’m probably not looking hard enough, but I have yet to see a Kipchoge caliber or Brownlee or any other big runner, triathlete promote– Sorry, professional, big promote a power meter, whether it’s Stryd or anything. Why is that? If they are not, maybe please tell me if they are, because I feel if they’re openly promoting it, that would drive sales and general awareness of it, do you agree?
Mike: [00:26:11] I got a power meter this year and tried running with them, but basically, as runners, we run to feel. I don’t care what you say, I don’t use a power meter to run. I live with my power meter on the bike. As you say, I’ve got one in the hub. I’ve got another on a different bike. I’ve got some pedals with power on. I’ve got a Wahoo trainer just out of view here, which is set with power. And I do that more than speed now, because I just want to know that I’m putting out the power at my functional threshold power that I know is the right power for me, my FTP and away I go. And I look at that more than heart rate even.
But with running, the heart rate is the interesting one. I like looking at the metric, but I don’t take a lot of interest on it, because if I can hold a higher heart rate, I’ll hold a higher heart rate, I still think that as runners, we still like to think that we run on feel, and the top guys, “Yep, I can feel this pace. This is about right. And I can maintain this for the duration of the interval or the race that we’re doing.” And the heart rate for me sometimes is just a little check, or it’s a little bit higher than I thought. I think beginners tend to really base their whole run around their heart rate. “My heart rates too fast, I’ve got to slow down, I’ve got to speed up.” Well, if you can maintain a higher heart rate for the whole run, why did it slow down? If it’s a race, for example, and you say, “Oh, my target heart rate today is 150 and I’m going to do a BB.” But you’re running at 160, they’ll slow down. Well, maybe if you just hold 160, at the end of the day, speed is everything. It doesn’t matter what the heart rate is, what the power number is, what the cadence is, the stride length is. Whenever we measure races, is that’s where we’re going down that that avenue, is by speed. The fastest person to get across the line win. I think power really does help you become efficient on the bike.
But I don’t think they’re yet– I’m happier ready to feel than I am to power. I can feel it much better, because it’s an algorithm, I still don’t think it’s 100% accurate, and there’s nothing much I can do to change it. I’m running along at a certain pace, I don’t feel that pace feels nice. I’m not going to slow down because the number on there is different. Same with running. I wouldn’t slow down because my heart rate was five beats too high.
[00:28:51] However, having now this knocked power, I need to come back and say one of the benefits of it– there are some benefits but if I want to pick the best pair of shoes for me and people say, “Oh, it’s the Alphafly. It’s the Vaporfly. No, it’s the new METASPEED from ASICS.” Well, I’m just going to get on a treadmill and I’m going to fix a few metrics, say I’m going to pick 1% gradient because that is equivalent to running outdoors, and I’m going to pick the speed at my 10k race speed, I’m going to make this at 3 minutes, 30 seconds. So, everything’s fixed, and then I’m going to put my power meter on and I’m going to run 5 kilometers. I’m going to measure what the number is. At the end of that, we’ll say the number comes out at 250 watts average for the 5k. I’m going to then take my ASICS METASPEED shoes off, I’m going to put my Vaporfly shoes on, and I’m going to do the exact same thing again. Now, I don’t need to worry about heart rate because the heart rate can go through the roof. All I’m doing is fixing the same metric, 1% gradient, 3 minutes 30, and I’m going to measure how much power I use.
[00:30:02] Now if I do that same test, and my power meter with Alphafly or the Vaporfly is measured 240 watts, means I’ve now saved 10 watts difference. That obviously means I’m more efficient. The lower the number, the more efficient you are. So, in that case, I would say, “Oh, I have a lower wattage output running in Vaporflys than the METASPEED. Therefore, my new chosen shoe to racing will be the Vaporfly.” And then, when ASICS come out with the METASPEED Turbo version 5 and then only 200 watts for the same, oh, I’m even more efficient, I’m now going to drop my Vaporfly and run in the ASICS new Turbo Boost METASPEED. So, it’s quite good. It has a purpose in there that you can actually monitor what shoes the most efficient to run it, and scientifically come up with an answer.
Daren: [00:31:04] For your individual self–
Mike: [00:31:06] For your individual. [crosstalk] Another good thing that you can compare with cycling, when we go for a bike ride, it’s good to know what our average wattage was for the whole ride. The same with running. You might go out and it might be windy, there might be lots of variations. Your time might vary, but it’s good to know if you’re on– As long as the terrain doesn’t vary too much in terms of mud and concrete, you can measure the wattage output, and think, “Well, I was slow, but it was a really windy day, but my wattage output was the same. Therefore, I still worked at the same effort as I did.” You don’t get that information clearly with just heart rate alone. Watts can give you an average watt for the whole run and you can compare runs and see which average workout was better. Over time, you might even do a rest run like a 5 kilometer on a course and over time, find out that you’re actually putting out less walk as you’re going around, which means you’re becoming more efficient. You’re changing your running style, you’re learning to land, better push off, the muscles are working more efficiently. So, you’re actually using less wattage to go the same speed, that’d be quite useful, little tools like that.
[00:32:22] Also, you can get a treadmill, and I could say okay, pick your cadence up, and let’s run with a higher cadence, slow your cadence, and let’s see what wattage is best, which is the most efficient for you. We can use it in the lab, and I think it’s a very good tool in the lab to test to see how our power output varies with different running styles, different cadences, different stride lengths. So, there are lots of useful tools for it.
And then, finally answering your question, Stryd is a very small company out of Boulder, Colorado. It might just be that they haven’t got the sponsorship fees for Kipchoge who’s with COROS or for Alistair Brownlee or Jonathan Brownlee or Tim Don. That could come to the fact that these companies, it’s not on their list of priorities just yet. When they’ve got more disposable income, it’s selling more, they can afford to sponsor more athletes.
Daren: [00:33:21] Good answer. I like that answer. I’ll take that one. Speaking of Stryd, what other companies are there that are doing power?
Mike: [00:33:27] I only really know of Stryd as a good reputable company. Garmin do it, but it’s based on an algorithm in the watch, it’s not as accurate. A lot of other companies do have a very simple algorithm, they just put it in the watch. You put the Polar Heart Monitor on and they’ll give some power coefficient. But Stryd is by far the only really reputable one that I know of. Again, I think COROS might do it. I’m happy for the listeners to correct me on this, but Stryd is the only one I know, Garmin do some sort of power coefficient although that Garmin actually works with Stryd. I would suggest that if you’re going to use power, I would buy Stryd and link it up to your Garmin.
Daren: [00:34:15] How would you sum up someone using run power and getting into run power?
Mike: [00:34:22] Personally, I think it’s beyond 90% of people listening out there. Most, when I talk to them, they have no idea what they’re doing in heart rate. I talk to runners that use heart rate training, and they are using an optical heart rate monitor. They don’t know what the maximum heart rate is. They don’t know the minimum heart rate is. They don’t know the threshold. They’re just into the metrics. I think a lot of people will get into power just to know the metric that’s interesting. If you’re geeky and you like that and it excites you, get into it. It has a useful place in the lab. If you can get a treadmill, it’s very useful to test– choose for example, to test your running efficiency, change your stride. And for me, that’s fascinating. Change your running pattern, change your cadence, change your stride length, relax your arms, more lean forward, do lots of different tests. Come up with your own test and just measure the wattage output and see how efficient you are at different ways of running and what it varies. So, there’s uses of it there.
But running, actually out training, I’d rather run to feel. I still think that I’m happier with just getting out there and learning to run the feel. I think most people would still be much better just learning how their body functions at different paces. So, I think for most people, they just need to learn and understand their own bodies a little bit more before getting into power.
[main set finished]
Let’s move into the cooldown.
Daren: [00:35:57] As we do, here is a question for the listeners. We want to make this a two-way conversation. So, please write in your answers, either Instagram or you can email– What is it? firstname.lastname@example.org.
Mike: [00:36:12] Instagram is the easiest. Direct message me @run.nrg.
Daren: [00:36:20] The letters.
Mike: [00:36:21] The letters, yeah. I tend to reply to everyone.
Daren: [00:36:26] And you can also go to his poll, because I probably do a poll, we’ll both probably do a poll.
Mike: [00:36:28] I love doing poll [crosstalk] as well, yeah.
Daren: [00:36:31] The question is [drumroll] would you rather run with a high cadence or a longer stride length? Which would you choose and why? Mike, your answer?
Mike: [00:36:45] Speed is cadence times stride length, so I would pick them both. [Daren laughs] If I were to go quicker, if you keep one variable, so if I keep the stride length the same and pick the cadence up, I’m going to go quicker. If I keep my cadence the same and lengthen my stride, I’m going to go quicker. Both of them work. According to Professor Dan Lieberman, Harvard, 170 to 180 [unintelligible 00:37:19] should be running up. Obviously, shorter people higher, smaller people lower.
Daren: [00:37:25] You mean [crosstalk] shorter people higher and taller people lower?
Mike: [00:37:29] Shorter people will have a higher cadence, taller people will have a lower cadence. If you feel that you your cadence is about the maximum it’s at, the only other way you’re going quicker is by lengthening your stride, the only two options you have. So, it’s a trick question in sense. For me, I like to always up the cadence because it spares the muscles. I have a big strong heart and if I pick up the cadence, I’m working the heart more and sparing the muscles. If I go to stride length, that’s working my muscle. Then as I got older, I’ve lost a lot of muscle mass and so, I find that it’s harder. So, you might find that older people actually want cadence as the answer and younger people want stride length is the answer. It’d be interesting to know. For me, it’s easy to go quicker with a quicker cadence rather than a longest stride length. What about you?
Daren: [00:38:25] If I were to pick one, because it was a trick question on purpose, and like you said, to go faster, you have to do both. For easy runs, always higher cadence. The way I found to do it because I have a big music DJ production background, is that 180 is my– I actually very my cadence based on the run. I’m between 175 and 180 for easy runs. Basically, the faster I go, the higher my cadence. And then for 5k stuff, 3k stuff, 1-mile stuff sprints, I’ll be closer to 185 cadence. I found that to be optimal. That’s 10 years of figuring this out. What I do is, I’ve got a lot of drum and bass DJ mixes, I don’t know if you listen to drum and bass anywhere, listener, but drum and bass is huge in the UK, and I fortunately was able to fall in love with drum and bass, as I got into the big club scene in the early 2000s. And it’s the perfect cadence for running because drum and bass is between 170 and 190.
[00:39:29] What I do is, and this is a really cool hack, is you can do this many ways, but I downloaded the VLC video app for my iPhone, I’m sure they have it for Android, and you can change the speed of the audio file. There’s no other program that can change the speed of an audio file that you upload that I know of. You can’t do it in Apple Music. You can’t do it on Spotify. Spotify doesn’t have DJ mixes. You can’t do on SoundCloud. You can’t change the pace, so I can dial in the exact tempo by changing the speed of the track, and it doesn’t actually alter the pitch, the key, so it doesn’t sound like chipmunks, or like– [crosstalk] and I’ll only alter it literally 1%. A lot of DJ mixes are about 174 BPM, so I want to run 180. I just do 1%, and I’m 180. And then I could do 2%, and I’ll be 185. So, that’s been my amazing hack that I’m sure not too many of you care about, but that has been my saving grace. And it’s this fluid 60-, 90-minute-long, two-hour-long, musical experience that I can do on my rate, easy runs, my heart runs. I even do it on races where they allow headphones, low. I always put the volume low, so I can hear everything around me. Because I’ve been doing it for so many years, I now don’t run with music, and I can hold 180 now with no problem. It used to be really hard. 10 years ago, when I started, it was really, really difficult to hold a high cadence because I would overstride, I’m sure I was a heel striker before I really dove in. So, that’s my long answer. Mike, I know you have something to say about that.
Mike: [00:41:06] Yeah. I tell people they should try and aim for higher cadence. And the answer all the time is, “Oh, I’m in a higher cadence, my heart rate goes through the roof.” That’s because you’re not shortening your stride. If you run at a higher cadence, you have to shorten your stride, because every action has an equal and opposite reaction. Therefore, if you pick up your cadence and leave your stride length the same, you will be going quicker. If you go quicker, your heart rate works harder, because you’re going faster. So, yes, you will be tired. I’m not saying go faster, I’m just saying pick up the cadence. So, to go with a quicker cadence, to stay the same speed, you have to drop the stride length a little bit.
That’s what a lot of people don’t get. So, if you go quicker, pick up the cadence, shorten the stride– you will be a little bit inefficient at first, your heart rate might rise a little bit. But give it a few weeks and it’ll become natural and heart rate will settle at the old level it was before. It might even be lower. Colin Norris, who is an up-and-coming pro with us, [unintelligible [00:42:09] the guy, he’ll say, “Mike, short distance is okay. I’m in a cadence around about 100, but when you’re going to longer distance, Ironman, you need to lower it to about 80. You can’t maintain that higher cadence.” That’s what they’re all telling me.
Daren: [00:42:23] I’m not going to argue with Tim Don, he has done a seven-hour Ironman. [chuckles] I won’t argue with you. This is the beauty of endurance sports. Obviously, you’ve got more experience. So, I’ve got my own experience, in my own opinion about things. But there’s no right or wrong way. I will always lean on the side of experienced people in science. But at the same time–
Mike: [00:42:44] Yeah. If your heart rate is lower, it means your body is more efficient set up that way. You are the most efficient person in the world at doing sports the way you do it. If I could copy you and run in your style, ride the bike your way, swim your way, I will be less efficient than you. You might not be as efficient as you could be, but you are the most efficient person at doing what you’re doing. So, that’s what people need to also remember.
Daren: [00:43:11] That’s good. I like that. All right. Well, I’ll end it there because I’m sure we could keep talking-
Mike: [00:43:16] Yeah, I’m sure we could.
Daren: [00:43:17] -about all this stuff. Thank you all for listening, and we’ll see you soon.
[DLake Creates theme]
Daren: [00:37:05] Is the health and fitness internet too much sometimes? Too many conflicting articles and videos that confuse you on how to train and eat right? Or, you don’t have time to just read and watch everything about, I don’t know, the new trends on carb cycling for trail running. Don’t worry, we’ll take care of all that for you. Sign up for our free email newsletter Three Thing Thursday. We’ll put three perfectly curated and creative things in your inbox for better living and training. Go to dlakecreates.com/ttt. We do the hard, time-consuming work and scour the health and fitness internet’s deepest and darkest corners. This is so that every Thursday, you have a piping hot new email with the latest and coolest tips, tricks, tools, tactics, and skills, all so that you can train and live consistently to do dope shit in your next endurance event. Sign up now, you can receive my quick guide on how to get healthy, stay fit, and use data to create habits that last a lifetime. That’s dlakecreates.com/ttt to be inspired and motivated on the regular.
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