Structured workouts – options for running power

As soon as you start to be a bit more serious about running, you’ll discover that you need to plan things and create a structure in your training. For that, one of the elements supporting your fitness is the power of structured workouts. Without that, it would be difficult now to imagine all the complexities of the training program that doesn’t just take into account duration or distance, but also intensity of your training. Usually, people are training by pace or heart rate, for example Polar being on of the proponents of heart rate training (for reasons easy to understand).

When running power was introduced, the bar was set already high by the ability to define complex workouts using combinations of pace/duration steps and pace/HR/power(cycling) targets per step. Unfortunately, the match couldn’t be done fast since Suunto or Polar who supported native running power didn’t have either structured workouts support or running power structured workouts support. Garmin didn’t support natively running power and the adjustments with various Developer CIQ Fields or using the cycling power and running power pod connecte as cycling power meter were cumbersome. Right now, with Stryd’s CIQ app you can use the structured running power workouts available on Stryd Power Center or transfered from Final Surge for example.

Starting with December 2020, Polar joined the club by adding (after a long wait) in their mobile app the support for building running power structured workouts and those were only available for their latest Vantage V2 (marketing tricks more than limitations of GritX or Vantage V which also support native running power). This week, Polar made the next step forward by adding support for running power structured workouts in the Flow web app, also redesigning the workout builder. More details about Polar’s release are available here.

The new Polar Flow web – structured workout editor

The new user interface is nice and easy to use .. maybe an usability issue is the fact that pushing the button “Close” doesn’t ask (or do) something about saving but discarding all your workout definition to go back to first step in defining the workout. So, without an explicit “Save” button, it’s difficult to understand that “Add to diary” is the only option you have to save your definition of the workout.

Otherwise this new addition in Polar Flow web app is a great complement to the good looking and capable Vantage V2 and could support the adoption of the device by people who are interested in running power (with external running pod or not) and also want a well build ecosystem. Coros is a great option as well, as they moved fast and were the first to integrate Stryd running power and also provide their own device based running power.

In terms of running power, the well known platforms where you could build the workouts were Training Peaks and Final Surge. Both of them needed support from watches to execute properly the workouts and that was generally done either by having Apple Watch apps designed for that or using the CIQ platform Garmin offers. Apple Watch became in this context a decent option to run with power, even though it has the limitations of the battery life.

Final Surge offers all the flexibility and the intuitive interface you would need to create your workouts, has a very good integration with Garmin and also the Stryd platform. This platform could become a favorite (if it’s not already) for runners if Garmin would support native running power. Another option would be Coros integration..

The powerhorse Final Surge – workout builder
Easy to use, intuitive and very versatile – Final Surge

Training Peaks is also very powerful and the integration with Garmin is great. With some data fields or apps, you can work with their solution properly.

Training Peaks – workout editor – flexible and loaded with useful templates

Garmin has a very versatile workout builder, allowing ranges edited manually, similar to Training Peaks and Final Surge. They don’t support running power, people used cycling power and the structured workouts to still have support for their Stryd plans.

Garmin Connect – very flexible workout editor (no running power support – yet)

In the end, at this moment, Polar offers a good end-to-end solution, intuitive and friendly for people focused on running power. It’s not without limitations, they don’t support user defined ranges but only the predefined power zones, so there is no way you can replicate other plans from Final Surge or Training Peaks in Polar Flow. If they would add this flexibility and eventually the integration with the other platforms, Polar could be a star.

Until then, enjoy your running and stay safe!

Author: Liviu Nastasa

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

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