In 2015, Stryd released the first power meter for runners. Power, measured in watts, tells an athlete how much energy they are spending at any given moment. Unlike pace, it accounts for hills, rough terrain and inefficiencies in your running stride as you fatigue. Unlike heart rate, it adjusts quickly to changing variables, and isn’t affected by things like caffeine or the good-looking runner who just smiled at you.
Power is a familiar measure to cyclists, helping them maintain a constant effort regardless of the terrain, gear or place in the peloton, but it is still unfamiliar to many runners. Some runners—including some elites, including champion mountain runner Joe Gray—have adopted it as a tool to help optimize their training and racing efforts. There’s even a book on how best to use it as a runner.
Until now, however, the meter ignored an important variable: Wind. Every runner knows how much wind can affect effort—either making the run significantly harder when it is in your face, or making it easier when a tailwind is pushing you along. For those who live in the west, wind is such a significant factor that when not taken into account, the power meter’s data was somewhat irrelevant.
No longer. As of today, the next generation Stryd foot pod will account for the effort of running into a headwind, and the reduced effort of a tailwind or drafting. Why did it take so long to add this important variable?
“The challenges to introducing this new technology have been immense,” says Stryd co-founder Angus Nelson. First, despite the common knowledge on its importance, there is a scarcity of research on how much wind actually affects your running speed. The one definitive study dates from 1971. “We were essentially working with one piece of literature,” Nelson says. “We had to build the rest of the knowledge from our own time in the wind tunnel.”
About that wind tunnel research: Nelson says it was difficult to get access to one of the few in the US, and the type of testing they had to do was unique. “We showed up to at least one wind tunnel as the first ever group to ever bring a treadmill in their test section,” Nelson says. “They had to rearrange the wind tunnel ceiling by drilling holes and replacing panels to accommodate the metabolic cart.”
Finally, Stryd had to invent a way to capture and measure the force of the wind from the moving footpod. “Nobody in the world of endurance sports had ever tried to sense the wind from such a dynamic place as the movement of the foot,” Nelson says. “There really was no guidebook and it was entirely from scratch.”
If the new pod works (we have no reason to doubt it, given the company’s reputation, but haven’t yet tested it) the results could be significant in helping runners pace appropriately in many contexts.
When heading into a wind, the meter will let you maintain the same effort as you would on a calm day—not pushing too hard to maintain pace, nor backing off too much because it feels hard. When the wind is at your back—and you don’t feel it but your splits are far too fast—the meter will be able to sense how much it is helping, letting you roll with it and maintain the same effort without fear of blowing up. When you tuck in behind another runner in a race, you’ll be able to quickly see how much energy you are saving and find the most effective spot to draft. And, finally, the meter will help you maintain the most effective form as your power usage will go up at the same pace if you hunch too much into the wind or your efficient stride starts to fall apart.
In addition to the wind sensor, the new Stryd pod will have temperature and humidity sensors that will help you assess your effort in different conditions, expanded storage to enable longer data collections and higher precision data collection, and an expanded antenna range.
If you’ve resisted adding a new device and measurement to your running, these new features—particularly the ability to quantify the effect of winds—make it more enticing than ever to adopt power as a training and racing tool. The new Stryd is available today for $219.