THE COROS POD REVIEW - OUR ATHLETES FINAL OBSERVATIONS - Wk 4
Posted on September 23 2020
The Coros POD is available HERE ($549)
The STRYD Meter is available HERE ($2179)
WEEK 4. SO WHAT CAN WE LEARN?
We asked our athletes what they had learnt through the use of the POD.This is their feedback. We would like to thank them for putting the POD and the COROS watch through their paces over the last 4 weeks.
So final feedback following my intervals session.
Review after a Speed Session: 4* (3* 450m). 90" rest /repeat. 3' rest /set.Average of 1'19" on the 450m. 2'56"/km average.
Interesting to see that I push way more at the beginning. Before loosing power.For future sessions, I'll try to start more progressively and try not to drop my power like that. It may result on a better pacing, and faster times. Good to see how the power can change during your intervals. Average Power: 801W.
Will see on future similar sessions, if my average power is the same. With different conditions: Track, less windy, less hot/humid, other shoes. Could be interesting to see that I can be faster but with the same Average Watt. Would mean I am not better, but just the conditions are better. Power can be a better indicator than Pace to actually evaluate your progression.
Running Power Analysis:
Knowing that I had the Coros POD on my back, I really tried to focus a lot on my form and technique. According to the numbers, it looks like being attentive to my form gave me some good numbers. And I think that keeping improving the % numbers (increasing the horizontal power) will make me faster every time.
Here, I hit 57 RE for Sprints. Let's see if I can improve this number for the next Intervals. This should be an easy indicator of each of your run. Once you have determined your different RE.
In conclusion, Looking forward to test it on different sessions (tempo, steady). And see the numbers for the next sprint session. Hope that can also help you using this Power Meter, and keep improving!
After a month of testing, the COROS POD experience has been really interesting and enjoyable. As stated in the beginning of the trial, there was quite a bit of ups and downs, and I even closed my first week impressions with this sentence: "I just hope Coros comes up with an update soon enough to make it a bit less “condition dependent” and thus, a bit more Hong Kong friendly!”. Well... COROS did step up during this time to deliver a solution that would guaranty a better accuracy and usability of the product. To achieve that, COROS came up with a very impressive firmware update bringing the power measurement capability to ALL their watches. Yes, watches. From a customer standpoint, this is absolutely amazing. With such move, the POD is not needed anymore to measure power and let the watch itself measure it in a much more accurate way. Power measurement now takes into account more variables (like uphill/downhill), and therefore, is much less ‘condition dependent’ and much more accurate. It has been really fun to discover a new way of training, relying on power. I’m still learning my way through it and I find myself still having to double check with more familiar metrics (HR) from time to time, just to feel more confident in what I’m doing. But overall, relying on power does bring an interesting fluidity and consistency to my workouts.
Of course, the POD is not so appealing anymore as it provides only a handful of data that the watch cannot measure, like the "running efficiency” and “running power analysis” (how one makes use of power on a multi-directional scale). But I’m sure any running geek would have quite a bit of fun playing with those numbers. They are a very good tool to help runners discover their weaknesses and work toward becoming a better runner. I still find that with the combination of the watch and the POD offers the opportunity to take concrete and conscious actions, during every run, to be more efficient. For example, looking at my own numbers, I’m always quite impressed by the amount of power I lose vertically during my speed sessions. I do generate more power at higher speed, but the percentage of this power that I produce vertically (in other words, that I literally send in the air) is appalling. Sometimes reaching more than 45%!
But all things considered, the game changer here is the incredible update COROS unveiled earlier this month… Bringing the power measurement to all COROS watches will definitely push customers away from the POD, but brings a much more harmonious and efficient experience for the runner looking into improving performance and efficiency. The quantity of data you now get, without an additional device that you need to wear before you go out the door and enjoy the bliss of running is simply awesome. Running is a pretty simple sport, and now you get to keep that simplicity while your watch does the job in the background. Less devices, more datas, better running, I’m in!
Coros Pod – Final thoughts.
One of the first things that is presented on the explainer page to the Coros Pod is that this tool is going to make you a “smarter and more efficient runner” . I was intrigued. As a distance runner I am always exploring products that can either help with nutrition or tools that can refresh and inspire new training methods. At the end of the day we all know that to be a half decent runner you have to train, day after day after day. I know first hand how quickly the fitness and speed can drop off if we are not putting in those full sessions. Part of that is keeping it interesting. It is why we train in groups. Why we mix it up between the track and the trails and why the occasional treadmill session is vital.
So the Coros pod promised to bring something else to the table that I had not heard of before. Training with Power. Now, they are not the only ones to do this and there are plenty of products out there which measure your power. The Coros pod was easy to get going, pretty cheap (600HKD) and reliable.
My first task was finding out what this new metric was and how it could help. Polar has a good Power explainer:
“essentially running power is the measurement of how much work you're putting in while you run. Running power is defined as a watt, and the more watts you produce, the more power you're generating”
So you wear this little Pod on your shorts and all of a sudden your Coros watch has a number of new pages while you run. The idea is that while you run it measures this Power metric that is more stable, responsive and accurate than say your heart rate. For example, you might be doing 8k round Happy Valley track. Over time you could work out that your “really pushing hard” might be 600(watts) and your steady Power could be 400(watts) while your chilling pace could be 250(watts). The idea is that this takes the guess work out of running. If you are running at happy valley you might say that you already have a time metric which measures how hard you are pushing. For example you know that running at 3.30pkm is pushing really hard while 5.00pkm is your chilling pace. But we all know that the pace metric on a gps watch is never that accurate so we would need to check the watch every km to make sure we are sticking to our pace.
But what happens if we are running on a hill? Or on a trail. This is where the Power metric is supposed to be more superior. If you run up a hill then of course your heart rate might change. Your speed and pace would almost certainly drop. But you could keep your power stable and that is the key idea. That if you or your coach has set a goal of running 10km at 400(watts) then you should be able to maintain the Power at 400(watts) throughout the session no matter on hills or trails or whatever.
It basically keeps you honest. In Coros’s words it “takes the guess work out of running”
So how did this work for me?
This wealth of new information was pretty cool to read and I think if I wore it all the time during my year then I would start to get some real metrics that I could work with.
If I used a coach then they could really get proper metrics of how hard I was pushing all the time and the days that I perhaps wasn’t. They could also make sure that I took it easy some days and allowed recovery.
I know that having a race plan based on heart rate can really work and this is perhaps an advancement on that. If you know what power you need to run your marathon at for the first 35km then you don’t need to worry about time, pace, or heart rate. Power is accurate and the Coros Pod seems to doing a pretty good job.
There is a “but’ though.
Ever been told by a coach or running buddy to run how you feel? Not quite sure how to gauge effort – well now the POD takes away the guess work
I believe that running how you feel is key to good running and training. Sometimes we wake up and we just feel good. We set off to run a steady 8km and we meet a friend and we just run really well. We take advantage of those good days and the days where running just feels right. There are also days when we wake up and we don’t feel so good and we have to just try and get through the session. But I guess in my opinion that is the beauty of running. The days that we train and everything just feels right are so perfect. We have flow and don’t need a metric to tell us that. We need to run how we feel. Not how a watch is telling us. My best races have been run when I just feel good. I cant explain it, everything just clicks.
From my experience, I also don’t think that a Power Pod takes into account weather conditions and we all know living in this part of the world that conditions are key. I am sure that if I used a Coros Pod in January then I would be able to create more Power in a long run than some of these incredibly hot and humid days we have been experiencing this summer. Also, it doesn’t take into account wind so when you are running into a strong Tokyo headwind in the marathon then it potentially could throw your plan off a little.
I used the Coros Pod for just over a month and I really enjoyed it. I used it on the track for intervals, boring Bowen sessions and longer runs on the trails. I think it sparked a new excitement into reading and understanding some of the new metrics it was recording.
Coros did do a pretty weird thing halfway throughout our trial. They updated the Coros watch software and enabled the watch to measure power without the Pod essentially making the Pod redundant. However, this is actually pretty cool. If you own a Coros watch then you will be recording Power and efficiency as you go and therefore can get a real base of information before you start training with it.
Is Power training something that will be incorporated in my daily running? Probably not, but I know many runners that have had great success with it. If you are the kind of runner who loves metrics, and finds it easy to train with them then this is certainly something for you. Coros does a great job of simplifying the results and illustrating your run. As more and more people start training with Power then we are going to start to hear of various Power workouts that could be a great addition to our running.
WEEK 3. WELL THAT WAS THE WEEK THAT WAS!
We talked last week about the issues we were seeing with the Power reading on the COROS POD and we were communicating this to COROS. Well, it seems we (and maybe a few others) had a bit of an effect. COROS announced a completely new software upgrade of the whole family of COROS watches (release 2:30) which transferred the power reading from the POD to the watch. Importantly the algorithm was indeed changed and now does react logically to uphills and downhills.
In the same software release that also announce full compatibility with STRYD, the most well know power metering system currently available.
So are you confused?... well let us try to help out.
1. If you simply now want to measure Power, COROS watches will provide you with that metric built into the watch. No need for any sort of external POD. The algorithm seems to be much improved from the version originally in the POD
2. If you want to explore a range of interesting biometrics, the POD now focuses on providing you with the range we have discussed previously.
3. If you want to add yet more metrics, or you have already invested in the STRYD meter (which is a big user base) you will now find it is compatible with COROS watches.
To try and simplify it we have created the following table.
We think it is unlikely and a little unnecessary to invest in both the POD and STRYD, but either option will provide you with a plethora of interesting metrics to analyse your running. Obviously the POD is significantly cheaper than the STRYD but STRYD has a very good reputation on the market.
What is amazing is the speed with which COROS made these developments. I doubt it was in response to our input alone but it certainly felt like we raised the points and things changed enormously. All credit to COROS for moving so fast.
Next week we will give a final summary of how our athletes felt about the experience and conclude our review.
WEEK 2. FIRST FEEDBACK FROM OUR ATHLETES.
No track session yet and no tempo session. But, I am thinking that if I get a lot of readings Ill start to understand my Power much better. Lets say my easy/steady Power is 300, my longer run is 270 and my faster run is higher than 400? But then I was thinking about conditions and the fact that power doesn’t take into account conditions. Mondays run was run at about 930am in serious heat. Surely my body has to work harder to maintain the same power in 32c sunshine than it does at 27c nighttime? I don’t know. Maybe that is why my heartrate was about the same even though my power was better. Your body needs to work harder to cool itself down and I’m not sure that these metrics take that into account at all,. As you can see, so far I think I have asked more questions than answered them. Sure, the power metric is much more responsive then lets say pace or heartrate but if it also right now doesn’t really make sense to me. If pace and power are so similar then why do we really need to look at power? If a coach tells us to run the first 6km of a 10km race at 3.35per km pace or at 450 power is that different?
JEAN CHRISTOPHE PIQUET
To make things a bit easier for me to wrap my mind around all those good datas, I would divide things into 3 different reading angles: power, running efficiency, and the correlation between one and the other.
Power: training with power has shown to be quite simple, even for a power newbie like me. It's “just” another running metric. But it seems this metric is far better at allowing you to train at a defined effort level. Forget pace, HR, RPE… 300 watts is always 300 watts. Once you know where you stand power wise, it is really efficient at keeping you honest during your runs, sometimes preventing you to overdo things, sometimes preventing you from falling into a too comfortable rhythm that would minimise gains.
One of my very first run with the POD was actually a 60k run around the Island. I averaged 300 watts for the run, with lots of ups and downs around this, and equal fluctuations in running efficiency. I wished I had been a bit more familiar with the POD and my numbers beforehand, as I’m now pretty sure that I could have aimed for an adequate power number, slightly higher (say 310 watts), and focus on sustaining that power until the end. I guess my running efficiency would have increased (less variations), and I would have reached my bed few minutes earlier thanks to a higher average power and mostly a better ratio between running efficiency / power / distance.
I also found that the power metric is a great tool at faster paces. During intervals for example, to keep as much regularity and fluidity as possible in my effort. My first 800 reps with the POD, I realised that I tend to through in a surge of extra power at the end of each rep that does not translate in any pace increase. Regularity in power is more efficient than hanging on for dear life at the end of my reps :). I didn’t do a serious tempo workout this past week, so I miss input regarding this, but I look forward to the next one as I anticipate that it will certainly be where it shines the most. As far as I’m concerned, longer tempo workouts are sometimes the most difficult to pace. Relying on power to keep me in the right zone should be super helpful.
Running efficiency: on that side too, as expected, the POD does the job and you see what is expected. Ground times, cadence, stride height, stride length, stride ratio, all this gets better as you run faster and reminds you why speed work is so important. I seem to be a pretty average runner at slower paces. :) This is a key info delivered by the POD, as it highlights your weaknesses in your running economy, i.e. what you should work on to produce more power with the same effort level. Pretty neat!
The big change though, is that you can actually put a number on your running efficiency, and you can even see that number live on your watch as you run. I found this really interesting.
Power/Running efficiency: post workout, being able to put all this in perspective in endless ways so that you can intuitively focus on what you want and not get lost in too many numbers is amazing.
I realised for example, during an interval session, that as the pace of each interval was actually very consistent, the power generated and the running efficiency were not following the same trend. Yes, power and running efficiency are increasing at faster pace, but it seems I might be overreaching after a bit, as I see a reversed trend of power peaking higher, running efficiency getting actually a bit worse, and pace still very regular. By putting in perspective pace, power and running efficiency, you see the interrelation of your running efficiency with how well or not you make use of the power you generate. That alone is an incredible tool to help you become a better runner.
Now as the saying goes… it’s not always sunshine and rainbows.
First little drawback, as far as I’m concerned, it doesn’t seem to be a good match with the T8 shorts that I use during most of my runs because of the integrated belt. It works as long as the rear pocket is empty (as stated by Coros, “avoid contact with running belts”). Plus, during that round the Island run, I lost it twice in the last 20k and were super lucky to find it back both times… I blame the sweat fest situation, that might have made everything more slippery and loose after a pretty long time running.
Take all the good, and just forget about it if you are running on anything other than flat road... it seems to loose quite a lot of accuracy (if not all) and any relevant data on anything going up, down, or trails.
So as stated, I'm not very familiar with runner’s tech and power meters, but playing around with those numbers for only one week has already been a very interesting learning experience. It points directly and pretty clearly to your weaknesses and what you should prioritise in your training to become a better, faster and more efficient runner. Added bonus, the ability to see all of these data live on your watch as you run makes it incredibly motivating to go out the door, train, and see those numbers getting better.
The POD is practical, intuitive, and easy to use. I can already say that it's a great addition to my running arsenal. I just hope Coros comes up with an update soon enough to make it a bit less “condition dependent” and thus, a bit more Hong Kong friendly!
I’ll get to work and see how I can make those numbers evolve in the coming weeks!
Have a great week and happy running to all.
As we described last week the COROS Pod provides a range of interesting metrics to augment the normal data you would get from the COROS watch and the majority of it is very useful and interesting. I too have used the PoD on a number of runs now and as stated by Tom and JC, the biggest question is the interpretation of power.
In Physics, the definition of Power is....Power = Force x Displacement/Time
It seems that the COROS algorithm does not at this stage take elevation into account in this calculation which would clearly impact the Force. It would seem intuitively logical that anybody exerting the same force will run at a slower pace uphill than downhill and critically the aim should be to control the power to be consistent. Right now, as the pace drops,so does the power reading and vice versa. In the equation above, elevation as well as lateral distance travelled should figure in the displacement.
It would seem therefore right now it is really a more sensitive surrogate for Pace, which Tom and JC also observed.
The good news is this finding has prompted a discussion with COROS and they have recognised the issue. We look forward to how they will figure this out.
Leaving that aside, I am now focused on my left/right balance, and my running efficiency. Interestingly for me, the faster I run the less efficient my running style is. More time bouncing up and down and less pushing forward. An interesting challenge to work on.
WEEK 1. WHAT DOES THE COROS POD MEASURE?
We are taking as an example here this week's track session which was set as 3 x (450 mtrs, 90 seconds recovery, then 1k ), 3 mins recovery between sets. The session is a great way to push the pace and test what information the COROS PoD will give you.
POWER. The COROS power measurement is a way to translate your effort into a metric (Watts) that represents how hard you are pushing. The algorithm combines factors such as Heart rate, pace, weight and in principle terrain to calculate a simple power score. Ideally, for good pacing, keeping that power score stable should result in a well controlled run. You may be pushing hard in a track session as in this example and by targeting a specific power level you can target your training and execute the repeats at a consistent, power based pace. This power score is displayed on the COROS watch throughout the workout. A understanding grows the power level can be maintained for more consistent training. As can be seen in the second plot, maintaining a consistent pace meant quite some variation in the power being exerted. Interestingly, in the shorter 450mtrs repeat, the athlete started with relatively high power which gave a slightly higher pace initially but he was unable to maintain it. The power output was more consistent on the 1k repeat with a big push at the on the last repeat to complete the session. This is all good insight to help the athlete achieve more consistent pacing.
POWER ANALYSIS - The Pod also assimilates this information and produces a summary to explore on the COROS App. Running efficiently is critical and the amount of energy used laterally and vertically detracts from the overall efficiency of the running shape. Elite runners typically have a horizontal power % of around 80% with less than 20% lost in vertical power and under 3% for lateral movement. This runner has good running form.
RUNNING EFFICIENCY. This is a the ratio of Speed / Power-to-weight ratio. In this example the majority of the run was in Zone 1, less than 90% efficiency. This means this runner could do more to improve the running efficiency which will have benefits for more economic running. Perhaps some weight loss?
RUNNING FORM ANALYSIS. The Pod also has a wealth of other metrics that can be used to further understand the runners running form and see where improvements could be made.
- LEFT/RIGHT BALANCE. The PoD is able to detect an imbalance between the left and right foot strike. Clearly the most efficient result would be 50/50 but most people favour one leg or the other. This runner favours the right leg marginally over the left leg but is pretty balanced.
- CADENCE. A popular metric and one much discussed in running form literature. Top Runners tend to have a high cadence, especially when taking part in a track session like this. During the hard repeats here this runner is maintaining a >185 steps per minute which is regarded as very good performance. On longer training runs this would probably be lower but anything about 175 spm would be considered high performance.
- STRIDE HEIGHT, STRIDE LENGTH and STRIDE RATIO. The more a runner bounces up (Stride Height) in relationship to the length of the stride (Stride Length) the less efficient the running action will be. Excellent performance here would be a stride height of less than 5cm (this runner has an average of 7cm) and stride ratio of less than 6% (This runner has 7.7%). Still pretty good but some room for improvement. When running an adult will have a stride length of between 90-150cm, this runner has a stride length of 99cm. Its is important not to over-stride (and that has to be observed and taken in relation to the height of the runner) but in this case the runner does not seem to be over-striding. A great discussion point with your coach.
- GROUND TIME. This metric measures the length of time the foot is in contact with the ground. During the actual hard repeats, this runner has a ground time of about 250ms. which is regarded as "Good". If this could be reduced to less that 210ms which would be considered "Excellent", the running form and efficiency would improve.
Taken together, these metrics give the runner and the runners coach a set of variables around which to work to improve form and running efficiency. We look forward to comparing our athletes as they work with the various metrics.
You can buy the COROS POD HERE: https://bit.ly/COROSPoD
THE KICK OFF - MEET THE ATHLETES!
There really isn't a short cut to improving your running performance. Nothing will compensate for a lack of training and not doing the hard miles. Pointless trying to find some magic formula that gets you to your goal without effort.
But that said, being systematic, knowing your "data", can give you insight and control and help you get the most out of your training and put you more in charge when it comes to the big day.
Running a marathon for instance is an exercise in using that absolute last ounce of energy exactly when you cross the finish line. Running on the edge of success and failure through the whole race is needed to achieve that entitlement PB. The PB that reflects exactly the amount of work you have put in and the one that you will remember for the rest of your life.
People talk about "the wall" as if its an inevitable part of marathon running, have plans to "get time in the bank" on fresh legs because the slump will come. All of which are excuses for bad race execution.
Running to a pace is tough, too easy to get carried away on the adrenaline rush at the start of a race "I am feeling wonderful", then 2km finding yourself well ahead of your target pace. The weather may be hotter than your planned, the course more hilly, the wind in the wrong direction... what compensation to make for that?.
We also know completing an ULTRA takes experience, physical and mental toughness, and a game plan that includes the right training and nutrition planning in advance and a faultless game plan for the race itself. Deep knowledge of how to manage each stage of the race.
The emergence of Power training in recent years aims to take some of the guess work out of that situation. Technology can now work with you to convert your effort into a power measurement (Watts). First developed in cycling, this technology is now applied to running.
COROS have made a big splash in the last couple of years with GPS watches that outperform most of the market incumbents on price and battery life and they have now launched a foot POD to bring the benefits of power training to their watch users.
We want to see how this really works with the training programs of some of our top athletes here in Hong Kong so we have invited 4 of the best to work with the COROS POD and WATCH over the next 4 weeks and provide us with weekly updates of their training to see how it has been enhanced by using the Power POD.
So meet our athletes ----
CAITRIONA JENNINGS - Team Captain of our Road Racing Team, Irish Olympian (London 2012), 3rd last year in Comrades, recently ran 2.36 in Dublin, 'nuff said!
ANDREA CLOAREC - A tough SPARTAN competitor been on the podium in Asia and Europe, qualified for the French Track Championships as a junior and just ran a 16'47 5k unofficial PB in ridiculous heat.
JEAN-CHRISTOPHE PIQUET - Fairly new to the HK trail running scene, started to see success last year with a 3rd in the RUN HK Charity race and if we were racing now, would be podium material in most races. Has a 5k track PB of 16.35 and a 10k of 34.57. This guy has power that needs to be measured!
TOM BOOTH - A well known swifty on the HK Road Running scene for many years and now working his way back to peak fitness. Tom has a 1:16 Half marathon PB and a 34.00 min 10k time under his belt.
Looking forward to keeping you up to date with the progress.