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Apple Watch Running Power Data Comparison (vs Garmin/Stryd/Polar/COROS)

Two weeks ago Apple announced a slate of huge sports-focused updates to the Apple Watch platform (called Watch OS). That platform will not only end up on current watches, but far more importantly on whatever watches Apple will likely release this fall. While we only know a portion of what that software looks like (and nothing about the hardware), it’s clear Apple is pivoting directly towards sports in a big way.

With this update, there’s a few key things:

A) The addition of running power
B) Full custom structured workouts with targets and more
C) The addition of running efficiency metrics (vertical oscillation & ground contact time)
D) A full triathlon mode that even automatically transitions for you between sports

Beyond that, there are hints of training load and readiness bits buried in there too. But more on that a different day. Also, while many people keep shouting ‘But battery!’, remember this is a watch that’s fully capable of completing a 70.3 iron-distance triathlon today (people have done so for years). Any future hardware may well finally focus on battery life, especially if long-held rumors about a sports/endurance edition come true. Point being, there’s plenty of other far more important issues ahead for Apple to enter the hardcore sports realm, such as touchscreen viability on super sweaty days (like my summer runs here in Greece), or glove support. Albeit again, those too can be solved with a different sports-focused hardware version of the Apple Watch.

In any case, let’s keep this post focused on running power (with maybe a touch of custom workouts tossed in for good measure)!

Oh – and as a reminder: This is still in beta. Thus, expect things to change, ideally for the better.

Apple Running Power Basics:

Apple’s rendition of running power requires nothing more than you wear the watch to gather running power data. Essentially, it’s just like what Polar and then COROS introduced years ago (and unlike Garmin’s requirement for an accessory, or Stryd’s own running footpod). So basically, you just start running.

But, before you do that, you may want to configure your data fields. This is done on the watch, which, is very old-school. Especially since you have to do this in different spots for custom workouts versus regular workouts. Nonetheless, there are basically three running power data fields you can select when you customize your fields (which, importantly, is the first time you can truly customize these fields). They are:

A) Running Power (Current)
B) Running Power (Run Average)

In addition, there’s also a dedicated running power page, which shows your current running power in a nifty chart, showing the last 10-minutes worth:

clip_image001

So, out on the road, here’s how the instant ones look:

clip_image001[6]

Here’s another example of it a bit later, a bit into a recovery interval (shown by the ‘R’ in the upper left corner):

clip_image001[8]

My only quibble here is that you can’t set a lap (split) power option, nor one tied to workouts. Meaning, that I’m stuck with either instant-ish, or whole workout average. Whole workout average is generally useless for stabilizing intervals (though fine for a long run). Also, if I may, while the 10-minute graph is fine, I found it a bit spotty in how it looks, such as below, which should be buttery-perfect looking intervals, but for some reason isn’t on this chart (check out the actual power recorded in the next section, this one is from my flatland intervals run):

clip_image001[12]

In any case, I totally get that this is a beta. And as such, it’s incredibly likely to change. We won’t see this release to the public for likely more than 3 months. Here’s what you get power-wise post-run, in the summary screen:

clip_image001[10]

Speaking of which, post-run, you’ll see all these familiar stats in the Apple Fitness app too. Here’s a quick gallery of them, with many having power (the ‘Intervals’ one also lets you slide left/right to see other columns):

All of this works fairly well in terms of basic access to the workout data. The underlying data is written to Apple Health, so 3rd party apps can access it (assuming those apps are updated to account for the new data fields, which is precisely what this multi-month developer beta is for).

Running Power Data Comparison:

clip_image001[14]

First, repeat after me: There is no standard in running power.

Wait, now, do it again: There is no agreed-upon scientific standard for running power.

There are many flavors of running power, from more than half a dozen companies. They include Stryd, RunScribe, Garmin, Polar, COROS, Apple, NURVV, Arron, and others that have been flashes in a pan. None are right, and none are wrong. Because, again, there is no standard.

The challenge with running power is that scientists disagree about what aspects should be included. Specifically, whether or not the elastic recoil effect should be included within the power figures. And thus, whether or how to account for it. The super-short oversimplified version is that Garmin and Polar include the elastic recoil/rebound output in their power numbers, whereas Stryd doesn’t (and it doesn’t appear Apple does either). There are pros and cons to both methods, and all these companies will show off results on a force-plate treadmill showing alignment and their righteousness. But again, they each differ on what they want to account for.

In my case, I was using the following units over the course of three different runs:

A) Apple Watch Series 7
B) Garmin Forerunner 255 with HRM-PRO
C) Stryd
D) Polar Pacer Pro
E) COROS Vertix 2

For this test, I was using the Stryd Gen 1 footpod, simply because in my mad-packing for my trip, I couldn’t actually find my Gen 2 unit following my last trip. That Gen 2 unit accounts for wind, but given there was virtually no wind on my runs (much to my chagrin), it’s a non-factor for today. Plus, unless you’re talking significantly windy days, the difference is almost negligible (as I showed previously in a wind tunnel).

In any case, these three runs were roughly as follows:

A) Easy 5KM shake-out run (just making sure everything was working)
B) Interval run with plenty of hills on a varying course
C) Interval run with no hills for the intervals, just back and forth along the flats

So, let’s get right into the interval workout with no elevation first, which was 8x400m and 90s rest. I simply did these intervals back and forth along a mostly straight and almost perfectly flat piece of roadway. Each one included 90-seconds of walking in between, and the pace for each interval was roughly 3:30-3:40/KM (~5:35-5:45/mile). Here’s the first data set, this one sans-COROS watch.

RunningPower-FlatIntervals1

As you can see, all four units basically tracked the ups and downs the same, but at different levels. This is exactly what we’ve seen previously. Garmin tends to be the highest, and Stryd the lowest, and Polar historically in the middle. Apple here aligns more closely with Stryd. Again, this is specifically to do with what each company decides to include or not include from a running mechanics standpoint in their computation. Which gets back to that messy scientist thing.

A couple of observations. While running, it seems both responsive enough and stable enough to pace/run by. And if we look at the data on responsiveness of each interval, it looks pretty good. Like any normal endurance runner, I wasn’t starting each interval with an all-out sprint. I took a couple seconds to get up to full pace. But there’s no delay here from Apple:

RunningPower-FlatIntervals2

However, inversely, what surprised me, is that Apple decided not to include any power number at all when walking, as you can see here. Each time I walk between intervals, the power flat-lines to zero. You can see this highlighted in yellow every single time I recovered between intervals.

RunningPower-FlatIntervals3

Of course, this isn’t correct. As I noted above, there are differences for how different companies account for mechanics while running, but everyone agrees that if you’re moving forward, then you’re creating work. And work equals power. It’s sorta fundamental to this entire thing. Else, why not also zero out calories too? Obviously, we wouldn’t do that, because it still requires work to move our bodies forward.

Oh, and for fun, here’s the Ground Contact Time comparison versus Garmin & Stryd (Poler doesn’t have a way of showing/exporting that), which are virtually identical (woot!), except for walking sections:

RunningPower-FlatIntervalsGCT

And then the Vertical Oscillation, which is quite different, in part because of how Stryd measures it at foot versus Garmin/Apple (at chest):

RunningPower-FlatIntervalsVO

Now, with that relatively ‘clean’ interval set out of the way, let’s look at a messier one. This next workout is actually very similar to the first one, except it’s what happens when I accidentally program a 5-minute recovery period. Thankfully, Apple lets you skip ahead, so I basically did the 400m interval as before, but then did a 1-minute walk recovery, followed by a 2-minute easy run, then straight into the interval. Also, more notably, I had a wonky-AF course full of hills, from steep to long. It was a proper mess. Here’s those results (this time, with elevation atop it):

RunningPower-HillyIntervals2

At first glance, messiness aside, it seems basically the same as the first one (including no power when walking). However, there’s one little tidbit that sticks out on a number of the hills where I see separation between Stryd and Apple. Initially it might be construed as steepness or something, but I think it’s actually a slight gradient delaying kicking in on the Apple Watch, and thus causing the separation. However, without doing a lot of repeat testing on a specific hill, I can’t quite nail down exactly what’s going on here – aside from the fact that something is worthy of more digging.

RunningPower-HillyIntervals3

And here’s Ground Contact Time, again, identical except for walking:

RunningPower-HillyIntervalsGCT

And then Vertical Oscillation, which…is…umm…if you squint enough it kinda looks the same. Sorta. Not really.

RunningPower-HillyIntervalsVO

For fun, here’s that 5KM shake-out run I did first. This also has the COROS data in it, and helps form a more complete picture of how different these units are. In this case, the COROS unit was worn very snugly on my left hand, which means the data might not be as perfect, though, with no watch movement I wouldn’t actually expect any meaningful differences there, given it’s only a few inches away. But still, wanted to note that.

RunningPower-5KRunPower

Yes, at a high-level things go up when they should go up, and down when they should go down. This route had some hills at the start/ending on it, as well as some rollers here and there.

And then here’s another 5KM steady race-pace build I did, this time with the COROS Vertix 2 natively on the wrist (and no Polar along):

RunningPower-5KRunBuild-WithCOROSNative

There are a few areas I couldn’t test, but will save for another day:

A) Surface Conditions: Most running power systems have issues with messy terrain like sand/beaches, mud, gravel, etc… Sure, they can calculate power there, but it won’t be correct because it doesn’t “see” the lack of traction on that surface. In theory, companies will say your running form changes to accommodate this, but in practice nobody actually calculates it right.

B) Wind: Simply put, I had no wind, thus, I couldn’t test it. Fear not, I live in the Netherlands, so this won’t be a problem once I get home. Also, it’s a good area to compare versus the Stryd V2 which does account for wind (as does Garmin’s running power, albeit using weather stations instead). It’s not clear to me if Apple is accounting for wind like Garmin is via weather stations (Apple hasn’t put out any docs that I know of here).

These are areas where we shift from philosophical differences about how running power is calculated (company to company), and into fundamental accuracy aspects. Meaning, it’s easy to demonstrate as I shift to a beach surface that a unit doesn’t correctly account for the hugely increased work-effort. Or, that a unit doesn’t correctly change power when I change from tail-wind to head-wind at the same pace.

(Note: All of the Apple Watch data was exported to .FIT files using a beta copy of the HealthFit app, which is the main app I use for exporting Apple Watch workouts. Then from there they were pulled into the DCR Analyzer for comparison.  Huge thanks to the developer of the HealthFit app for getting me a preliminary alpha/beta copy that allows export of these new metrics).

Wrap-Up:

clip_image001[16]

For the first public beta of running power from a company that precisely nobody ever expected to see running power from, this isn’t too bad. The numbers move in concert with the other units on the market, through both interval workouts, as well as steady-state running and hills. The display on the watch itself is pretty easy to understand, as are the portions in the app after the fact, including showing the power split metrics next to each and every interval/split.

There are some tweaks I’d like to see:

A) Ability to show lap/split power on the watch while running as a data field (especially in custom workouts).
B) Ability to see splits in the post-workout summary on the watch, today it doesn’t show this, and this is a pretty basic sports watch feature
C) Some fix for walking power. This artificially skews one’s average power values otherwise, and would make it hard to compare for coaches.
D) Clarity on what and how they calculate power (every other company does this), and whether or not nearby wind stations are included

I think that’s it for now. I’m sure I might have more ‘suggestions’ later on, but again, as a starting point this is pretty good. And for that matter, so is the custom workout pieces, which I used for 2 out of 3 of these workouts. There’s some tweaks there too (such as ideally being able to create them on your phone, since doing it on your watch is fiddly AF), but again, I like where things are going.

In fact, just yesterday I did a triathlon race with the Apple Watch and the new triathlon functionality, including the auto-transitions. Lots of thoughts following that, but more on that later in the week.

With that – thanks for reading!

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81 Comments

  1. Gregory Yourek

    With the somewhat recent ability of Strava to import running power, will Strava also accept and display Apple power in activity metrics?

    • We’ll have to see what Strava ends up doing in their app, but I’d assume so.

      If you use HealthFit to export to Strava, then it presumably will (I haven’t tried that export/sync yet, just to .FIT files thus far).

  2. S

    > This is done on the watch, which, is very old-school.

    All of the other fields can be configured on the phone via the Wartch app. Scroll down to the Workout app and select Workout View and then Outdoor Run. If run power isn’t there, it’s surely just an artifact of the beta. Or are you not running the corresponding iOS beta?

    • Nuttin.

      If I go to Watch > Workout, there are no activity profiles to configure. Maybe it’s moved somewhere else, but I can’t seem to easily find it.

      You have to run the corresponding iOS beta version, else, it won’t load said beta.

    • Stephen Thomas

      Probably just an early beta limitation, then.

    • Probably, but I’ve long-since learned that if you don’t mention things early, sometimes those are simply feature removals that someone decided nobody would really care about.

    • Mark

      Thats super strange. Running 15.6 public beta the top option under Watch > Workout is Workout View as S mentioned, and it offers (very?) limited customization. Anybody else running the 16 dev beta who can confirm that this is gone and have an idea where it went? Seems like a step backward.

    • Yup, on iOS15 I see it no problem but on iOS16, no such luck. Attached a picture of what I get.

    • Mark

      This is when I hope that it’s because they’ve moved it to an unannounced enhanced version of the fitness app that has a better sports/athletics metric focus…. and then remind myself that it’s far more likely that somebody just broke it.

      It is however looking more and more likely that if apple comes through with a good version of the rumored watch edition this fall that i can stop caring about Garmin fixing their Health integration.

      Looking forward to your other articles this week Ray!

  3. Two questions:
    1) Do some of these wrist based watches not incorporate power when walking because some (many) people no longer move their arms as much and tend to keep them at their sides? Or are the metrics based off something else? I don’t own any of these (yet) but was kind of bummed recently when I tried to use my Garmin 245 using virtual run mode on zwift via treadmill and discovered that it doesn’t work when walking since you don’t move your arms. If I walked my avatar stayed still, but if I stopped walking and just started flailing my arms around it started moving again. I realize Im talkign about virtual run and not “power” but it made me wonder about wrist based metrics. I have thought of moving to take the plunge on a Stryd pod finally since I coach many runners who are increasingly interested in running power as a metric, which leads me to…
    2) With all these companies adding wrist based power and running power focus becoming a growing trend, is Stryd in danger unless they somehow adapt? I don’t see a lot of people buying a $220 pod that goes on your foot over a completely brand new watch for a little more that also has resonably comparitive running power data.

    • 1) I suspect that’s the case, though, both COROS & Polar manage to do so. Perhaps Apple feels the quality/accuracy isn’t as good in those cases (certainly a plausible scenario), but I can’t see a scenario were 0w power is more accurate than any other number, since any other number is more accurate than no number.

      2) In many ways, Stryd’s death has always been exaggerated. But that’s also because all of the potential threats have somewhat fizzled out. I actually don’t see Apple as a core Stryd killer. Instead, I see Garmin figuring out native wrist power as a core Stryd killer. Right now, Garmin still requires an accessory. I can’t imagine it’ll stay that way forever.

    • Will

      IMHO – Stryd’s death is exaggerated because a device that only gives power without telling runners what do with that power is only one part of the solution runners need.

      Cyclists are OK with that as they’ve had decades to figure it out. But runners aren’t cyclists, they need more hand holding.

      AFAIK only Stryd gives the whole system of, CP/FTP testing, power zones, training %CP and race power targets specific to course profile.

    • soap

      “AFAIK only Stryd gives the whole system of, CP/FTP testing, power zones, training %CP and race power targets specific to course profile.”

      Once Garmin’s running power gets out of (let’s be frank and call it what it is) public beta than there is zero reason to believe it will get treated differently than cycling power in that regard. Stryd’s subscription model fills a gap in the market which just won’t exist once running power is mainstream and Garmin/Firstbeat give you the basics and TrainingPeaks et al allow one to dive into details with a subscription.

    • Yeah, I think we do have to separate out Stryd as a device, versus Stryd as a service/subscription. Certainly, Stryd as a device continues to expand their offerings via updated apps (on multiple platforms), but that’s different than the structured training bits referenced above.

      And ultimately, as SOAP says, I’m going to take a strong guess that it won’t take Garmin too long to basically make everything in running equal to cycling in terms of native power. And probably not too long to have native power mean true native power, and not dependent on an accessory.

      If we look at what Garmin is doing on the FR255/955 (and soon Fenix 7/Epix/etc…) with respect to dynamic training plans based on races, and even look carefully enough at things like power-based alerts already in existence in the FR255/FR955, the piping is being built out. Apple joining the power fray is only going to drive Garmin waaay faster to complete and compete in those areas than they might have done just on their own accord.

      Finally, add the FirstBeat acquisition really starting to show off their integrations more and more, and hints of where things are going, and it’s shaking up for some solid competition in the running power space.

      Of course, that doesn’t mean running power is ‘solved’, as noted, there’s still no agreement on how to define running power. And I worry the longer these companies take to sit down and actually agree on what is or isn’t included, the longer consumers will see confusion.

    • Will

      If Garmin can implement: power based training plans and racing power targets, then yes indeed Stryd will have to fight hard to stay competitive.

    • Mr. T

      Stryd doesn’t do a better job of telling runners what to do with that data either.

    • Wil

      Stryd offers power based training plans and race power targets.

    • Mr. T

      that are meaningless or they charge extra.

    • Will

      All training plans are free.

  4. Oskars

    Can you elaborate a little more what you meant with ” elastic recoil effect ” ?

  5. I’ve been wondering how you got access to the .fit file with power data from the apple watch. I was thinking about writing code to get access to those beta health kit data fields but then realized there’s probably only about 10 of us that would really care about getting access to that data at this point. Seems like a lot of work. I’ll look at the beta of the Health Fit app.
    Also, some times I hate Apple. Why can’t you just export my data in a standard format like the rest of the world. I’m just throwing that out there. Come on Apple. 🤦‍♂️

    • Yup, HealthFit is great. Looking forward to seeing it start to enumerate those metrics in more depth elsewhere.

      But yes, I agree, I think Apple can just do a better job here on data export. Sure, Apple Health is great as a repository, but it’s ultimately not a great end-user experience for 95% of people. And it’s not like Apple doesn’t have plenty of precedent for API’s to partner integrations. We see tons of other iOS areas that have native sync/hooks into other platforms. I don’t understand why Apple can’t allow that same concept to exist here whereby someone can instantly and easily enable (natively) sync to 3rd party apps like Strava/TrainingPeaks/etc.

      Right now, it’s cumbersome and highly dependent on that 3rd party partner having done the work correctly (rare), or, depending on a 3rd party app to act as a middleman.

  6. Alex McCoy

    Glad to see that AW and Stryd agree so closely. Using the Stryd for both AW and Garmin runs (depending on the day/style of workout) but maybe eventually I can just use the AW alone and be able to compare (ahem) apples to apples.

  7. Gray

    Hi Ray – out of interest noting the watches used. Any chance you can show/add (even do a little piece) on the GPS tracks of the Apple Watch vs the dual frequency bands chipset of the garmin and Coros. Really interested to see which is the most accurate.

    • Yeah, at this point it’s pretty easily: Garmin, then COROS, then Apple, in terms of dual-frequency accuracy.

      In fact, if you want, all of the data sets linked above (in DCR Analyzer) were with Garmin FR255 in dual-frequency mode, COROS Vertix 2 in dual-frequency mode, and Apple in…well…Apple mode.

  8. Alex Johnson

    How did the triathlon mode go? Can you pick you Sports prior to exercise, indoor and outdoors? And can you manually transition if you so wish? Thanks!

    • It was interesting, using it side by side (one wrist FR955, other wrist Apple Watch). You can pick sports prior, a combination of sports, etc… it’s relatively flexible in that respect.

      You can manually transition, but it’s a proper nightmare. I tried it on a few test workouts, and basically I ended up effing it up each time in the wrong sports or not what I expected. So for race-day I just let it do its thing automatically. Mixed results. It shows promise, but they could use some learnings from the Wahoo RIVAL on automated transition modes.

      Full write-up in a couple days I think.

  9. Marc

    I wish Apple would just buy Strava and get it over with…

    • I don’t think that’s likely. I think Strava is simply just too messy (in a good way) for Apple to want to deal with. The complexities of what Strava does is well beyond mainstream consumerism that Apple tends to drift towards.

  10. Gray

    Thanks for taking the time to reply. I’ll take a look at the data. Really looking forward to Watch OS9.

  11. dkrenik

    Anyone else using the Power2run (https://www.inspyridon.com) app on their AW? I’ve been using it on my iPhone for several years and then my AW for ~1 ½ years and it seems OK.

    Seems like this development from Apple might be a deal killer for them.

  12. Chris Davies

    Hi Ray
    Great review as ever. The thing I would to see you review is the distance accuracy of the new multi band watches against the Stryd footpod (and against reality provided in the form of your trusty measuring wheel). I am a long time Stryd user for speed/distance accuracy. I have found, for example, that it correlates very well with ‘distance correction’ on Strava and often much better than the GPS watch without the Stryd. However, if the new watches have narrowed or eliminated the gap then I might well defect to a Garmin running pod for power and get a new watch (though I would much rather Garmin integrated Stryd into their system: yes, I know you can use the CiQ app, but that comes with many disadvantages, not least the inability to use many other features on your watch like navigation….).
    Chris

    • Will

      There are CIQ datafields that allow you to do power based workouts and still use maps and music. It’s only CIQ apps that have this limitation.

    • I haven’t circled back on that accuracy-wise, but that’d be an interesting one. Once I figure out where the heck I put my V2 pod, I’ll connect it up to some watches and give it a whirl.

      That said, one of the challenges with a wheel is that frankly it can be really hard to get truly accurate distance for anything but short distances. Mainly because unless you can run precisely what you measured, the differences add up pretty quickly.

    • Will

      I did some back of envelope maths and estimate it’s possible to add +0.5% to the straight line distance just by running oscillating slightly side to side.

      So realistically it would be very tough for any gadget to be better than 99% accurate. Garmins footpod claims 98% and Stryd hint they’re ok with 98% too.

      But in the real world when racing we all run up to the finish line no matter what any gadget tells us.

    • Chris

      Yes, but when you are doing a long, difficult ultra what you really want to have is the most accurate data on how much further you have to go! Of course, you then run up against battery limitations on the Stryd…

  13. Jon

    Hi, I’ve been looking forward to this review for a couple of days now, thanks so much! Two things came to my mind, though.
    First, if you’re already able to export the runs in fit format, what happens if you try to import that run into Stryd PowerCenter? Since the general power values seem to agree okay at least, that would be an interesting tool, to get those CP, run predictions and so on.
    Second thing is about vertical oscillation. I’m just guessing but is it possible, that Stryd data is in cm and Garmin and Apple in mm? To me it seems that especially Garmin and Stryd in the first plot above are very close to a factor 10 in difference there. Or did I totally misinterpreted the plots?
    Thanks again!

    • 1) The export is via HealthFit (a 3rd party app), and it basically fakes what is a Garmin .FIT file in terms of running dynamics and running power. I haven’t tried importing it into Stryd PowerCenter, but, if you want, all my exported files are available in the linked data sets above (open up a data set, and then at the bottom it’ll say ‘Download Data Files’).

      2) Hmm, that’s possible. Will have to do some digging there.

    • Jon

      Regarding 1), I tried that now and it actually works. Some things like Form Power or Leg Spring Stiffness are simply zero but Power and Power Curves and things like vertical oscillation do seem to work. I will try that again with a run of myself though to better be able to compare, as soon as the public beta is available.

    • Stephen Thomas

      That’s consistent with how other watches work. If you have a Stryd account linked to Coros or Polar and run without the footpod, Stryd’s PowerCenter still shows the metrics that the watch collects natively. Note, though, that PowerCenter ignores any workout without power data, so if you try this with Garmin the activity won’t show up. For those activities that do import, all the Stryd processing seems to work. This is actually a problem in the case of Polar, since Polar native power is very different from Stryd power. If you forget your footpod, then Stryd’s calculations (e.g. critical power) can go bonkers. Not an issue with Coros since their power estimates are pretty much the same as Stryd’s.

      Of course, in order to create a Stryd account, you need a footpod. I suppose someone could buy a footpod to set up the account and then return it or sell it used, but that seems like a rare enough occurence that Stryd could live with it. Maybe Stryd will crack down and only support their own hardware, but I don’t see the point. Folks still have to buy the product (at least temporarily), and they still get the chance to up-sell their premium services.

      I think Stryd’s real problem is that their premium services, quite frankly, aren’t that hard to replicate. There will likely soon be multiple iOS apps that can calculate critical power, create power-based workouts, and provide power-based race predictions. They may only be 80-90% as good as Stryd, but I’m not convinced that Stryd’s models have less than 10-20% margin of error anyway. Until now, the main barrier to entry for such apps has been getting access to the data. Soon it’ll just be a question of reading from HealthKit.

      I don’t see much of a future for Stryd, either the hardware or the service.

    • Jon

      I totally agree. I loved Stryd for a long time now and still think it has some advantages (mainly instant pace feedback compared to sluggish response of GPS, and pace and distance availability in tunnels and so on). But as you said, as soon as awesome apps like healthfit include critical power or even race predicitions, I would be very tempted to sell my stryd pod and just use apple wrist based power.
      Not having to take an extra device (plus extra charger and extra cable because it’s still micro USB) along when traveling is a great benefit I think. Also, I’m not to sure about the stryd when crossing little creeks or so when trail running, since stryd officially says to avoid submersion in water, although mine is still alive.
      I would probably only miss some other little features like the uphill/downhill-hiking/running distinction for trailruns or Form Power Ratio or Leg Stiffness for a little while, since they are not really critical for my training.

  14. Phillip

    Any idea about using AW power on a treadmill?

  15. Seth

    As always, great review Ray! I’ve been afraid to go to the developers beta version so I haven’t seen any of this cool new functionality yet. By chance, have you tried an indoor (treadmill) run with AW watch os9? Does it allow you to manual enter your incline to get an estimate of watts there as well (similar to Stryd)?

    • No, I haven’t tried indoor treadmill yet. Maybe a bit later today. Have AC dudes in the Cave today installing AC, and the treadmills are currently blocked by their equipment. :-/

    • Benny

      Sidebar … Are heat pumps still more expensive than pure AC in the Netherlands ? They are suppose to save on the electric bill ? 😎

    • Update: Tried it, you actually can’t even add running power to the data fields for the indoor run mode.

      As for the newly installed AC, it can operate in either heating or cooling mode. Currently, the building we’re under provides hot water to the radiator system in the winter, which works well enough. But inversely, while we have our own gigantic HVAC system in the Cave (it’s basically a warehouse) that came with it, said system cannot simply bring cold night air into the cave. Instead, it’s hard-programmed to always heat it up. Which…is frustrating AF. So even if I program it to turn on at 1AM and pull in outside cool air for 5-6 hours, it still heats said air to a non-changeable temperature. Sigh…

    • Seth

      Thanks for the update Ray… bummer about the lack of power on the indoor run mode. I suspect that that will be an easy enhancement for them down the road. Also a bummer about your your HVAC situation! hopefully your new unit will work for you!

    • Will

      I wonder how easy it is to program a chest based accelerometer for indoor run power – after all the chest moves very little compared to the foot or wrist.

    • Stephen Thomas

      Garmin does this already with the HRM-Run, HRM-Pro, etc.

  16. Thanks for a great review! Can you cite the sources for the “elastic recoil effect”?

    • I linked above a bit of an explainer on the elastic recoil effect and how it pertains to running.

      I’ll see if I can find some written sources. Most of this comes from conversations with all these companies as well as others in the running power/efficiency industry.

      Also, did confirm Apple does not account for elastic recoil (nor wind or surface conditions).

  17. Don Rhummy

    Ray, unless the pod is in your shoe measuring the pressure with which you press down, how can these power numbers be anything other than made up?

    • Will

      Yes in the sense they are made up, though based around sound biomechanical principals.

      But if you consider run power to be an effort gauge it is still more useful than pace.

      Even a pressure pad in the sole would not solve the issue, since you don’t know the stiffness of the shoe nor ground.

    • inSyt

      Yes, especially single band GPS pace. But what about wrist based running power vs grade adjusted multiband GPS pace?

    • There’s caveats to all these technologies at this point (even the shoe-force ones that exist have also had issues, such as shear forces on the insole often resulting in accuracies).

      I think that’s largely part of the challenge with running power today, is that we’ve got:

      A) No standard between these companies on what is or isn’t supposed to be included in running power
      B) Algorithms that vary on their effectiveness to the stated goal
      C) Numerous ways which we can measure it, which are vastly different and often have substantial differences in total values
      D) An inability to truly capture all scenarios, such as sand/mud/etc, or even wind properly (neither Stryd or Garmin’s approach is really perfect, both have often significant catches).

      I think ultimately, it’ll end up with some sort of insole system as the most accurate, but really, it’s going to take these companies agreeing on a standard, which in turn means someone needs to ‘give up’ their way of algorithm life. And ideally, that agreement on a standard should be backed by some element of science rational.

  18. Chris

    Thanks Ray – it would be super interesting though. Maybe you could do it on a track running in lane 1?

  19. bb

    Great review as always. Will the power and other metrics be available for other apps trough any API?

    I wonder what will be up next year? The swim parts on AW was previously pretty good, and now they almost nail the running part leaving the biking far behind. Will we see bike improvement next year? Using audio/airpods for feedback about effort/pacing?

    • Yup, they already are available via Apple Health (and thus, HealthKit). It’s actually how I was able to get it out, via the 3rd party HealthFit app linked above.

      It’ll be interesting to see what Apple does in the sports/fitness space over the next 3-4 months. To me, these features were announced because they need developer support behind them. However, other bits like you mentioned don’t need developer support per se, and could be things announced at launch of Apple Watch Series 8.

  20. Craig Dennen

    I take it that you can’t connect your Stryd pod to your apple watch and drag in the numbers from that (much like you can with a BLE heart rate monitor)? I’m currently using the brand new Stryd app on my watch but it needs further development to do what I want e.g. provide a notification for an autolap or display average power for any given workout section on the watch so would be nice to have another option

  21. In your opinion, from all the options above, what watch was the most comfortable to wear and to use?

  22. King Bradley

    Which features of watchOS 9 will be available on the different Apple Watches?

    I have an SE, is it already known if it will get all the features?

  23. Jack

    I’m curious if the hartrate is in percentage or absolute.

  24. A O.

    Hi Ray,

    Do you know if the watch would recognize and prioritize use of ‘external sensors’ for running power metrics? As it does for GPS when your iPhone is present, and HR if a cheststrap is present? To save on battery?

    My long time favourite Polar H10 HR-strap does send these kind of metrics to the Racefox app (allthough to nothing else as far as I know, I’ve asked iSmoothRun about a year ago or so, but nothing yet), but that would sound good in my ears.

    Anything on this?

    Keep up the good work, regards,

    Tony

    • Garmin running power (GRP) should take pace/speed from a footpod if one is present.

      interestingly i ran today with GRP and the stryd zones datafield (955, HRM-PRO, Stryd set to always source of speed) and GRP showed zero when stryd showed X. GRP was working yesterday. I was wondering out loud if garmin (cleverly) stopped both producing power. (or i made a mistake 😉 )

    • tfk,the5krunner

      PS Apple watch can use a chest strap but any other sensor needs to be paired at the app level.

  25. Thomas

    I have a not-so-much-directly-but-somehow-related question:
    I have a Fenix 5s and a HRM-Pro cheststrap. Due to your post, I thought about trying out running power… so I downloaded it from connect IQ and added the lap power data field to my running profile. And, as expected, it works: it shows my lap running power while running.

    But: I would have assumed that I get the data in Garmin Connect afterwards as well. Like a running power graph or at least running power for every lap in the lap overview table. But that’s not the case.
    Am I doing anything wrong here?

    • Thomas

      Ray,
      I went through your old post from back when Garmin released those apps / data fields.
      I realized I have to check the “write data to file” box somewhere. But I really had hard time finding those settings. Garmin, that is not straightforward (at least to me 😉 ).
      (If anyone is as stupid as I am, Connect IQ app, My Devices, my datafields…).

    • These days that happens automatically. So no worries there.

      However, the challenge is that the CIQ app doesn’t push it to all the normal fields like the FR255/955/etc does. That’s effectively the ‘core’ newness in those devices. Now, practically speaking, there’s no real reason why Garmin couldn’t enable at least the GC/GCM sides to just suck in the CIQ power data. After all, virtually every other company on the planet does this and has been doing it for years.

      But sadly, Garmin isn’t doing that today.

    • Thomas

      At least for the Lap Running Power data field, it did not automatically set the write to fit file option. I had to do that manually.
      For testing purposes, I added the Running Power data field as well… and there it was set right from the beginning?
      Somehow strange… but at least it’s solved now.

  26. Stephen Thomas

    Something I’ve been mulling over since this post dropped is Apple’s handling of rest intervals. The more I think about it, the more I believe Apple’s approach is correct. First, the advertised feature is “running power”; it’s not “walking power.” By definition, if you’re walking, you’re not running, so your _running_ power is definitely zero. (I’m ignoring the potential complicating factor of race walking which, to me, is kind of a hybrid.)

    That’s a bit pedantic, though, so it’s worth considering the practical applications. In particular, what’s the point of running power? Most commonly, you want to know your running power (at least in real time) in order to hit some target, either target power for a race or target power for an interval in a structured workout. If your power is below the target, speed up; if you’re above your target ease off. But that’s only relevant for running. No one looks at their power while walking and concludes that they should walk faster or walk slower. So it seems that for real time usage, there’s no harm in omitting power while walking.

    What about post-run analysis? Well, one use of power measurements is estimating your critical power. But if you’re walking during the relevant parts of a critical power test, you’re doing it wrong. Maybe there’s an argument that walking should be included in training load calculations such as Stryd’s running stress balance. But that’s not going to count all the other times you walk during the day. I’m likely to spend more time walking the aisles of a supermarket than I am during rest intervals of a structured workout. Stryd doesn’t seem to be bothered by the omission of that data.

    Finally, it’s useful to think about what other watches (and Stryd) are showing for power when you’re walking. Considering that their algorithms are intimately tied to the biomechanics of running, there’s no way that the number could be anywhere near accurate for walking. (And I’m being generous in granting that it might be accurate for running.) So in some sense Apple is more accurate than the other vendors. Or at least they’re not lying to you.

    I agree that the first impression on seeing 0 watts for walking is “WTF?” But I’ve reconsidered. Now I prefer Apple’s approach, and I hope they stick with it.

  27. mk

    Hi DC,

    do you happen to know if HealthFit supports exports of Nike Run Club workouts to Strava? Also, would you mind providing th HealthFit developer’s contact info? Couldn’t find his email online…

    Thanks