This is a not a long story of why you should try the power based training, but rather a quick one on how to make use of the current tools available for sport watch owners for training with power. I own a Stryd (link here) since April 2018 and when I did the move, the motivation was more about the accuracy for distance and pace than it was about the power based training which I must admit was appealing but did not influenced massively my purchase decision.
As a result, I own a Stryd (Summit) footpod, the version with wireless charger. This version is not longer sold, but is assimilated as hardware in the v2 generation (with Stryd Live and Stryd Everest) and enjoying the same software attention from Stryd as all the non-wind Stryd footpods. For me, Stryd was a very good partner, since it took away the obsession for GPS accuracy – the distance and pace values are consistent, regardless of the watch I’m wearing. I paired it with various devices, starting with Garmin Fenix 3 and ending with the current Garmin Fenix 6X, also with Polar Vantage V. I admit, I had high hopes from Polar when they announced that they have native support for power – unfortunately, they stumbled on their way .. taking one year to allow footpod manual calibration and not yet supporting structured power based workouts (?!).
In the past, when I first met Final Surge, I was very much tempted to try the power based training, since they were supporting a large variety of structured workouts, with their beta version web app. When I discovered that, since Garmin doesn’t support native power, you can’t get your power to be displayed on the watch when using the workouts dowloaded from the platform by your Final Surge CIQ app, I changed my decision to follow a 80/20 HR based training plan available on Final Surge. The training was fine, the integration was nice – not perfect, since your had to manage the complexities of moving your workouts from Final Surge to the watch and do some cleanup from time to time – the number of workouts stored on your watch is limited somehow, even if the memory would still allow it [at least that was the situation then, I didn’t try to replicate and test now with Fenix 6X which has more GB of free space].
With Steve Palladino and Stryd working close (at least that’s my perception), but also with many others supporting the transition to power based training for running, the power based running become something more than a tiny niche. Stryd released new iterations of their devices, taking now into consideration the wind and also Final Surge improved their platform (the part which is the most appealing for me is the analysis part in the beta platform which blends the details of Garmin’s Connect and the visual guidance of Polar Flow).
At this moment, in my opinion, the easiest way of doing power based training (plans) using Stryd is available to those using Apple Watch and Training Peaks – because the app on Apple Watch is a very good app which gets the workouts directly from the plans available (purchased) in Training Peaks (more details available here).
So, with no events available soon, I purchased an off season “maintenance” plan from Final Surge/Steve Palladino (here) and started to play with the options I have to execute it in the most intuitive way. Unfortunately, Final Surge didn’t (yet) take advantage of Garmin’s Training API (like Training Peaks did) and therefore you still need to use the CIQ app to transfer your workouts (up to 5 days) to your watch. So no integration with Garmin Connect calendar, which is a shame, because that area and the integration with the watches is just great (unlike the Polar Flow integration with recent Vantage series, where you can’t do much on your watch to look over the training calendar, like you used to do on your V800 – but anyway, that’s another story).
The second step was to transfer the workouts to the watch, which you can do using the Final Surge CIQ app (available here). The usage is seamless, you only need to authenticate and configure the number of days for which to transfer workouts on your watch (I selected 5 because I’m lazy). Sometimes, you may have an error when trying to download the daily workout (which actually triggers the download for the full 5 days period). There is a fix, but it’s not that very pleasant to do it regularly (more details here). That’s why I look forward to seeing the integration between Final Surge and Garmin Connect taken to a new level – using the Training APIs that syncs the training plans simple and transparent.
If you start the FinalSurge app on your Garmin, you’ll select the workout and then the “native” app you want to use as template for your workout execution – the list is not long and basically includes indoor track run, treadmill, virtual run and trail.
The activity template – run for example – is used by Final Surge as a baseline for the workout execution, you’ll get an additional screen that manages the data related to your Final Surge structured workout.
You would expect that the upper field will display the power data from Stryd, unfortunately it doesn’t since Garmin doesn’t support native running power – there are some workarounds with bike power, but those will mess your settings for bike workouts. Maybe there is still a clean way of using structured workouts with power from Final Surge, but I haven’t found it yet. You can still do your workouts, you’ll see in the starting notes of each phase the power interval and use the Stryd fields in the run screens to view your power – but you won’t get alerts when you’re out of range and you’l have to keep an eye on your watch to see where you are against the target interval.
There is an option which offers power based structured workouts support and that’s promising – similar to the app on Apple Watch, you can have the Stryd app on your Garmin to define and execute your power based structured workouts. Stryd Workout App (details here) does what Garmin didn’t want to implement – power based structured workouts execution.
There are still some shortcomings, like you only have for now the option to create the workout on your watch, but not in some mobile app or on web, also no way (yet) of syncing with other platforms (like Connect, Final Surge or Training Peaks). I’d say that this will be possible and with some effort Stryd will get there, at least to get the workouts from the plans in Final Surge and Training Peaks if not from Garmin Connect Calendar, and allow you to execute those. Eventually, we will have the PowerCenter plans loaded on Garmin watches, or other power based training plans. For now, you have to live with defining the workouts on your watch, which may become a pain, if you have complex workouts – the 6 x 1 min fartlek today had 23 steps (!).
The sync of the executed workouts is seamless, Final Surge matched my run with Stryd app with the planned workout and I could see it in the analysis – which is a nice and powerful solution, blending the flexibility of Garmin Connect and the intuitive representation from Polar Flow.
The Stryd app is nice, not yet maybe as nice as the native Garmin apps, but effective functionally – has visual, haptic and sound alerts if you are outside of the target power intervals. For those that use power for their running training and use structured workouts, the life is not yet very easy, primarily because Garmin doesn’t support native running power and Stryd needs to find workarounds and also because Polar doesn’t support power based structured workouts. Both decisions can be debated in various ways, but ultimately it looks like Apple Watch is for now better to support this power based training.