I’ve been running with a power meter for several months now. My first impressions were great, but I never went “all in” on training with it… until now.
It’s “off season” which means taking a break from the normal structure of training, but not from exercise all together. I did take a bit of a break, but a Thanksgiving day Half Marathon is calling my name! For 6 weeks I thought it would be a good idea to train with running power alone and not even look at pace on my training runs. I’ll let you know how it goes after Thanksgiving, but for now, let’s get a bit of a crash course on training with running power.
1. Running Power is not measured same as Cycling Power
This is the first thing you need to understand. Cycling power is now a very mature technology. Almost all power meters for cycling measure direct force (the amount of force you are directly putting into the pedals/crank/rear hub). A Running power meter, however, is a different animal. Most running power meters measure movement or force in a 3 dimensional plane. In other words, not all of your running power is used to propel yourself forward. Side-to-side, up-and-down, and forward motion all add to running power.
This can help us see that as our pace goes down but we go up a hill, there is less forward progress, but we can still measure our work consistently (see next point). It also tells us that as we bounce or wobble we are using power but not going any faster (see third point!)
2. Running with Power keeps your effort consistent
Many times we get a workout that prescribes running at X pace for X minutes. That is great, but what about going over a hill? What if the course we are running is rolling? Our effort going up the hill will need to increase to keep the same pace, and it will decrease when we are going down the other side. Multiply that by numerous hills on course and you many be spending half the prescribed amount of time in the prescribed zone.
Running power can help us stay on track when we are going over hills. Slow down going up and speed up going down. Too many people slow down running down hill and that only is wasting energy, fighting gravity, and trashing your quads!
3. Running with Power puts more emphasis on form
Form is so vitally important. The goal of a triathlon is not to get from point A to point B as fast as possible. It is to get from point A to point B as efficiently as possible. Efficiency not only makes you faster, but it also helps you go further, faster. As a race progresses, running form usually goes out the window. This is true in straight running races too!
My first run with a power meter opened my eyes to this more than ever before! The longer the run was, the slower I got and the more watts I was putting out. Both bad things!
One workout I found online was a form run where you hold a set wattage and try to up the pace through weeks in form. Something you couldn’t quantitatively measure before without a power meter!
So that is a simple explanation of running with power. A crash course if you will. Obviously pace and great rate are still very important metrics, and running power is still in it’s infancy, but it is a game changer for sure! I’ll be running solely off power until Thanksgiving, and I’ll pace my Half Marathon solely on power. Stay tuned for the results and my thoughts along the way!
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