Could this pod power you to a new PB? A review of the Stryd power sensor

Stryd footpod review

“Never hit the wall when you pace with power.” That’s one of the claims made by the running power pioneers behind the Stryd footpod. By focussing on power over pace, this tiny bit of tech claims it can help us avoid those mile 20 blow ups and land more PBs. It’s an attractive proposition but is it really true? And is this extra accessory really worth the investment? Kieran Alger has been running with Stryd for three months and here’s his rapid review.

The killer stats

Connectivity: Bluetooth and ANT+ compatible

Compatibility: Works a wide range of brands, devices and running platforms including Apple Watch, Polar, Suunto, Garmin, Zwift, TrainingPeaks and Strava.

Battery life: 1 month of run time

Weight: 10g

Price: £199.99, amazon.co.uk

What is it and how does it work?

Stryd is a small shoe-worn pod that clips effortlessly onto your shoe laces a bit like a marathon race-timing chip. Inside the lightweight, 10g carbon-fibre enhanced pod are sensors that measure the acceleration of your foot horizontally, vertically and laterally as it strikes the ground. This information is crunched by a clever algorithm and used to provide your running power, in watts.

Bluetooth wireless connectivity then fires your power stats to either to the partner smartphone app (so you can use Stryd without a running watch) or to one of a long list of compatible GPS running watches or running services so you can see your running power in real time on your wrist.

It works for outdoor and indoor runs alike and power can be used to guide training and racing.

Stryd footpod review

While Stryd is mainly about power it also provides pace, distance and speed to a highly accurate level without using GPS. Unlike a GPS watch that can struggle with some built up urban runs and those dreaded tunnels, Stryd won’t drop out. There’s also no need for calibration, it works straight out of the box.   

Post-run you can also dig into a range of other running form metrics such as, cadence, leg spring stiffness and running form power. Alongside that Stryd will assess the stress load of your run, a stat that can be used to monitor overall training load.

You can add third party heart rate sensors into the mix too, to bring another layer of useful data to the Stryd stats. There’s a detailed web-based training tool, the Stryd Powercentre that lets you dig into your training and race data more deeply, create power-based training plans, set your power training zones (these work just like heart rate in terms of structure).  

Why should I care about power?

Cyclists have long been using power as a way to monitor workrate and provide a consistent measurement for training and racing. While there are debates about whether it’s even possible to measure running power in the same way, new devices such as Stryd are giving us new stats that tells us much more about the actual workrate we’re putting in as we run as opposed to the body’s response to that work (heart rate) or the effect of that work (pace).

This means we now have a tool that can help us run smarter, for example, running at a consistent effort over hilly courses. It can also help us see more instantly whether we’re hitting the right workrate in training sessions. Whereas heart rate suffers a lag, power responds in real time making it easier to hit the sweet spot on intervals sessions.

Perhaps most importantly though, and the thing we liked best about Stryd, was that it can help us improve our race pacing and stop us going out too fast, running hills too hard during races and helping us to run our true potential by keeping us moving just under that threshold line. And that means no blowing up at mile 20.

For a more detailed look at what running power has to offer, you can read our guide to running power.

Stryd footpod review

What we loved

The race power calculator: Like any metric, knowing how to apply it effectively is vital, particularly come race day. Stryd makes it easy to set a power target for distances from 5km to the marathon.

Related: The RW race time predictor 

You simply enter a recent time from a 5km, 10km, half or full marathon into the calculator, choose your target race distance and hit calculate. Stryd then spits out the power target for you to run your race to.

If you run from start to finish on that power target, the theory is that you’ll never hit the wall. We tried this in several races and had some of the most controlled performances we’ve ever experienced.

Easy on and off: Unlike some other power-monitoring products that feature sensors built into sole inserts, the Stryd cradle makes it really easy to transfer the pod between your running shoes. And the truth is, if you care about your running enough to invest in a power pod, chances are you’ll have different shoes for training, racing, fast and slow sessions.

Good battery life: Stryd claims you’ll get one month of run time from a single charge and while we didn’t quite get that much we easily clocked 3 weeks with some hefty mileage. So you don’t need to charge this often.

Widely compatible: A real strong point, Stryd plays nice with most brands, lots of running watches and running platforms so it can follow you even if your loyalties change.

Wireless charging: When you do need to charge, there’s a wireless dock that you drop your pod onto and it takes care of the rest.

Stryd footpod review

What we’d like improved

Some syncing issues: Over the course of the three months we’ve been using Stryd we did have some syncing issues whereby the Stryd smartphone app failed to find the pod before a run. We got round that by unpairing and repairing the device but it’s a little frustrating to have this after you’ve finally taken that big step out of the front door.

At times it’s complicated: Power is still relatively new to running and as you’d expect with a new metric there’s quite a lot of detailed information to get your head around. The Stryd Powercentre is full of new tools that aim to help you apply power in a training situation but there’s a lot of new terminology that we found quite daunting.

The training diary: The training calendar on the web-based Powercentre is a little cluttered and not the easiest on the eye. It’s quite hard to navigate and review your recent runs.   

How much does it cost?

The Stryd power pod will set you back $199 – that’s about £150 based on the exchange rate at the time of writing – and you’ll currently need to get it shipped from the US. That’s certainly a decent investment on top of a running watch. But if you want to measure power there aren’t too many cheaper ways to do it. The Garmin Running Dynamics Pod costs £59.99 but only works with Garmin devices while a Polar Vantage V that tracks power from the wrist is a £439.00.

Does it play nice with other running tech?

A big tick in the box, Stryd is compatible with a wide range of the leading running watches from Garmin, Polar and Suunto and training platforms such as Zwift and TrainingPeaks.

How you get your power stats to appear on your watch varies from brand to brand and we’ll be honest, it’s not as seamless as we’d like but that’s down to the watchmakers more than Stryd and with a bit of customisation you can get your power stats on your wrist easily enough.

What’s the competition?

Other devices bringing power to running include the Polar Vantage V GPS running watch that tracks power from the wrist without a pod. The Garmin Running Dynamics Pod and the HRM-Run chest strap provide power for Garmin watches while insole based RPM2 and the SHFT footpod and chest strap combo, are two other newcomers to the space. Two other devices that will soon also offer running power are the Arion Running insoles and the RunVi running system.

Stryd footpod review

Stryd verdict

If you regularly chase personal bests but you struggle with race management then Stryd is a tool you should seriously consider. Help to ace your pacing is a race-day benefit that’s arguably worth the investment alone. The fact Stryd plays nice with many of the most popular watches is a big bonus, as is the solid battery life.

Over the coming years we’re going to hear more about how power can be used as a training aid too and Stryd’s comprehensive web tools and training plans are as good as we’ve seen, if a little complicated. However, you’re going to have to be a pretty serious about your running performance to make the most of these.

For committed and competitive runners (even if that’s just against yourself) this is a very useful tool. For everyone else, hold tight and watch this space. Power will be made easier to understand and tools like Stryd will no doubt improve the way they help all runners build it into their running habits.