We’re in the midst of a running revolution. One that is changing the way coaches train runners. Run power has now surpassed every other training tool in its effectiveness. It’s replacing other metrics like pace, heart rate, and rate of perceived exertion. Making them complimentary as opposed to primary. Because with run power we now have a way to measure fitness more objectively, without any of the drawbacks of the measurements mentioned above. But when used in conjunction with pace, heart rate, and RPE, run power offers powerful insight to help improve your training.
Knowing what run power is and how to extract the most from it is critical in understanding how to improve your training. Maybe you have specific running goals, or you’re interested in trying a new event that places a lot of stress on our body. Perhaps you’re chasing a new PR, or trying to place higher than you did in last years’ race. Regardless of your motivation, knowing how to run with power will make you a more efficient, and more fit runner. Run power can help to make achieving your running goals a real possibility. And as the methods for measuring and utilizing run power advance, runners will be able to achieve things that they once considered impossible.
What is run power?
Run power is the single most reliable predictor of performance. It’s a measure of your work rate. The product of how much work you do, and how fast you do it. The how much refers to the force you apply to the ground, and the how fast refers to your cadence. Simply put, run power equals force times velocity (P = F x V). And it’s this ability to apply a large amount of force to the ground while maintaining a high cadence that runners want to improve.
There are three ways to measure run power, horizontally, vertically, and laterally. Horizontal power is the work rate that moves you forward through space. While vertical and lateral power is those work rates that move you up and down and from side to side. Knowing how much power you waste in the vertical and lateral planes enables you to make adjustments in your form that direct more energy into horizontal movement. This is one of the breakthrough advantages a power meter offers. It allows for realtime adjustments that improve efficiency, form, and speed.
How is it measured?
Today the foot pod is proving to be the most effective device for measuring run power. It’s a sensor that attaches to your shoe and estimates force and speed by way of an algorithm. Consequently, it’s the most accurate way to measure pace, even more so than GPS. But what makes the foot pod so invaluable, is the realtime feedback it provides. Changes you make in your form or mechanics while running reflect immediately on your wrist device. This gives coaches and athletes an incredibly powerful tool – unlike anything ever used – to help runners improve performance.
What can run power do?
Seeing improvements in fitness, speed,c and efficiency are only a few of the incredibly exciting benefits of run power. Most notably, it provides a single number – critical power – which accounts for pace, slope, form, fatigue, and wind. Knowing your critical power enables you to fine-tune your training and maximize your efforts, especially with respect to intensity. In a similar fashion, critical power allows you to develop race strategies you never thought possible. If you know your critical power, then you know roughly what percentage of critical power to dial in and hold for any length race. It also allows you to hone in on bio-mechanical inefficiencies so that you can target areas of opportunity in your form. No longer will you be guessing what to work on, you’ll be able to allocate your scarce training resources to exactly where they are needed most.
What should you do?
Ultimately, we are only at the beginning of a running revolution. One that you’ll want to be at the forefront of. As this technology improves and training advances, ever greater results will follow. Just as Eliud Kipchoge demonstrated in Berlin by beating the two-hour marathon barrier, with the help of his dual power meters, you too can experience breakthroughs as well. With the help of a power meter and power certified coach, you can improve the way you train and race. Because if you’re not using run power, your competitors probably are.