Measuring and interpreting running power output to improve performance
May 19, 2016
In many ways, the evolution of modern sports science applications in running has been slow compared to most popular sports. Indeed, the principles of “old school” training methods are still popular, and culturally ingrained.
Arguably, the most common method of gauging running performance and progress is the simple “split time” or “pace” – (per 400m split, per kilometre, etc) enabled by a stop watch on the running track, or GPS devices on the roads and trails. However, running pace does not tell you how much work was done, and how efficient you are across a range of distances.
Power output devices have been popularised within the cycling fraternity for ~30 years, and a mainstay in training and racing monitoring. Only recently have a number of power output devices become available for runners. But is the traditionalist runner ready for a cultural shift in training mindset?
At Melbourne Sports & Allied Health Clinic, we are now integrating STRYD power output metrics with our running clientele. We are finding that training prescription, and monitoring subsequent physiological responses and adaptations, is more precise with integration of power output. STRYD syncs with most popular GPS devices (Garmin, Suunto, et al) and cloud enabled Training Peaks monitoring software.
Running economy (energy expended for work done) is one of the most important contributors to performance. That is, a preference for using less energy to do the same (or greater) amount of work. Power output correlates tightly with oxygen consumption, and reflects work done, whereas pace alone does not. Coupled with specific training sessions, changes in the type and timing of energy input, modifications to stride frequency, specific strength training – we would expect improvements in running economy, and subsequent lower power output at a range of running speeds.
We will discuss running power output in more detail in the coming news blogs on this site.
In the meantime, please contact Dr. Simon Sostaric on 03 9374 4077 for more information.