Power based training – Stryd and Final Surge in May 2020

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).

That means 98 workouts (59 runs & 39 other) – 40:45 hours of running

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.

When you see this screen, connect your watch to the computer and do some manual cleanup

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.

This is the Final Surge added screen to manage the warm-up (10 mins) phase with power

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.

Nice analysis, you can dive into details and the results are well represented visually

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.

Author: Liviu Nastasa

Passionate about software development, sociology, running...definitely a geek.

11 thoughts

  1. Hello sir & thank you for this informative blog. Just wondering if I could get your opinion on the power based 80/20 marathon training plan on TrainingPeaks vs the Palladino plan.
    I am using the Stryd pod & Apple Watch 5 to train for my 1st ever marathon…NYC on Nov 1st. I have completed 3 half marathons previously at 2 hours to 2 hours 10 minutes. I have ample time to train during the week & usually do my long runs on the weekends. I’m 45 year old male & 9:15-9:30/ mile is my average pace. I hope to finish the NYC marathon just under 4 hours if possible through on those power based marathon training programs. Thank you for your advice in advance.

    1. Hi,

      I only tried so far the heart rate based 80/20 training programs from TP and I was happy with that, I would imagine that the power based ones are similar in effectiveness.
      I also tried the Palladino training programs, which are only power based but if you look at the distribution of intensities, you still have a large degree of training polarization (similar to 80/20).
      The big difference is that 80/20 is only available on Training Peaks now (it used to be available in FinalSurge as well) and Palladino’s plans are only available on FinalSurge (for now). If you use the Apple Watch, the best solution is TrainingPeaks because that integrates beautifully with AW. For FinalSurge there might be some options, but they are not that straightforward. Keep also in mind that Palladino’s plans (the marathon ones at least) are not yet structured on FinalSurge, so you’ll have to define the structured workouts manually based on the indications in the plan.

      So, my advice for an Apple Watch user is to use the TrainingPeaks integration[https://blog.stryd.com/2019/04/17/run-power-structured-workouts-on-apple-watch/], I trust Matt Fitzgerald to be good plans. You can still do it with Steve’s plans, but I feel that requires a bit more work.

      Keep in mind that any of those plans won’t guarantee the final time for marathon, that’s up to you and how you train.
      Steve Palladino is pretty active on Facebook group for example and supports with advice the people using his plans, he might give you some advice if your target is in line with your progress throughout the plan.

  2. Oh man, I’ve been struggling to get the power to show up in the FS data field and went back to re-read your article and I must have skimmed over this in my initial excitement:

    “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”

    I love the power metrics from my stryd and I cannot really believe Garmin just refuse to support power properly. It blows my mind. It’s really a broken situation right now.

    The Stryd CIQ app is ok when it doesn’t crash but I have to create workouts ON THE WATCH and I can only store TWO at a time… Come on guys

    There basically isn’t any way to setup my own power based training plan Garmin. I mean Garmin don’t even let you use their own power stuff in their own structured workouts.

    Apple Watch only works if you also pay for Training Peaks. You can’t even create your own structured workouts with the Stryd app on Apple Watch like you can with Garmin.

    1. Unfortunately, the running power concept is not well supported by any of the devices available, even by those who used running power as one of the key features of their new watch (Polar Vantage V still doesn’t support structured power based workouts). We will see how things will evolve.

      1. Polar are potentially the worst because they do natively support (both their own and 3rd party) power… everywhere except structured workouts!

        It’s frustrating because there is so much potential with power and structured workouts is the place where that potential is. Oh well, back to the fiddly stryd CIQ app I go.

        I do think the styrd developers could solve this issue themselves with a little more efforts by allowing us to build workouts on their mobile app and sync them to our devices. They already did the hard work to build apps so we can run structured workouts through apple watch and Garmin. If they let us create and push workouts to those from their smartphone app or power centre then that would make for a great situation.

      2. The editing of structured workouts in some external app and syncing with the watch will come eventually from Stryd, I don’t think there are API limitations, maybe only their bandwidth is keeping them from implementing all things fast.

      3. You’re right. Now that Coros announced the Pace 2 watch and their integration with Stryd (but also their own native running power on watch), they are the leaders in running with power, outpacing all others, Polar and Suunto (with native support) and Garmin (with CIQ and fit data exchange). Time will tell if the people interested in running power will choose Coros over the other brands, but it started a trend (at least for Garmin users)

  3. Final Surge has now implemented the Garmin Connect Training API – you no longer need the Connect IQ app.

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