How to do a track calibration test

It came to my attention that doing a track calibration test with your Stryd power meter isn’t as simple as go to a track and run a few 800’s.

It requires some prep work and an understanding of the different data pushes you may have synced up with your watch, Garmin, Power Center, etc.

First, why would you want to calibrate your Stryd?

GPS, as we know, isn’t a perfect measurement of distance and real-time pace. It’s definitely in the ballpark and can be pretty close on certain days in the right circumstances. But at its worst, you can experience data dropouts of screw-ups (we’ve all had them – crediting us for our fastest mile when we weren’t even trying to run that fast). If you are data dependent, it’s definitely wise to have a few sources (just in case). My buddy Andrew experienced that on his run today and was shortchanged on many of the important power related metrics for his intervals because of an errant GPS file. Once he plugged in the Stryd Power Center file, it was far more believable and in line with what we normally see in WKO4.

Also, it is commonly known that Stryd comes out of the box REALLY WELL calibrated without the need for adjustment. But there have been cases where it is generous with distance and pace estimates, and if you rely on it for those during a race, you are making a mistake. You should definitely test its accuracy at a track first. I recall a friend who ran a marathon (I also read a similar story from a fellow blogger) relying on his Stryd measured distance and pace estimates and was not pleased when he finished and saw 26.8 miles. Even if you think it’s close (there are ways to compare it to GPS files, but this isn’t the best approach since we know GPS isn’t 100% accurate to begin with).

With that said, let’s get on with how to do it and learn from the mistake I made.

The first thing is to make sure your calibration is still set to the default value of 100.0.

Then, pick a day where you can find a local track and make sure your watch is configured to use STRYD as your speed source (“Use as speed source – Always” is in the sensor setting). I would also turn GPS off as well because it will override the above configuration in most watches. Alternatively, you could just use your watch in indoor mode, and that would do the trick as well (probably the easiest way to go about doing this). In this scenario, you will lose your map on your run file.

The reason you need to do this is (and I learned the hard way here) is because if you leave GPS on when your run is done, your Garmin pushed file (which should contain power) will contain GPS measured distance for each lap you take! You want Stryd measured distance – thus allowing you to change the calibration (if needed). I made the mistake of setting a calibration value off GPS data and then when I went to test the new calibration value the next day, the results were even more off. Lesson learned.

Once at the track, you can run several laps, staying in Lane 1 about 12 inches off the inside line. That should measure out to 400 meters exactly if you run it correctly for each lap. I recommend switching up paces and doing 400s, 800s, 1200s and making sure you are hitting the lap button with each distance.

You will then be able to see the Garmin pushed laps with the Stryd measured distance.

Here is how I have my push settings for all of my sites:

Garmin pushes files to Strava, Final Surge (for my Coach), Training Peaks (I rarely use this now but when I did, it was for the Threshold notification) and Power Center (I like having 2 files, the raw file from Stryd and the Garmin file – more on this in a bit).

Without you pushing the Garmin file to Power Center (even if it’s just once or twice for the track calibration tests), you will have no way of knowing when you started and finishing your intervals with the raw fit file (I’ve never had to use the app so I can’t say with 100% certainty that they have a lap button on it but imagine trying to do that with a phone on the track. It can be done but it won’t be pretty).

The other way of checking out how many meters each lap is, is if you have WKO4. You could simply load your Garmin pushed file, and the laps will be evident.

However you go about it, you can see how many meters are being measured per lap and settle on a calibration value.

What’s the formula for determining the newly calibrated value?

(Actual distance/Recorded distance) * Old calibration factor = New calibration factor

example: (400/403 = 0.992) * 100 = 99.25

Having said all that, I’ve seen a fair amount of track calibration results and most come in <1% off the true distance.

If you train by power, distance and speed isn’t as important as it used to be. It’s more about training stress (rTSS) and time in your zones. However, the accuracy of speed (distance/duration) is critical if you are fully utilizing Running Effectiveness in your analytics.

I still like monitoring pace and distance after the run even though I only have power on my data screens (along with lap time) so it would be nice to have accurate distance and pace.

How do you know if it’s accurate after you set your new calibration value? Go back to the track and run another few laps following the same protocol above and see how the data shakes out. If you can get within 1%, you’re pretty damn close.

Quick summary:

1) Configure watch for track test
2) Run on track at various distances/paces, manually lapping each one
3) Check your data source and make sure it is not reading from a GPS file
4) Plug your numbers into the calibration formula above and set new calibration value
5) Repeat track test to confirm new calibration value

Advertisements

HUGELY important test

I hate putting pressure on myself but I’ve learned that I do best when I have something on my calendar to execute that carries significant meaning.

Tomorrow is a hugely HUGELY important day.

It is my first CRITICAL POWER test with Coach.

See, I had one scheduled many weeks ago but I was feeling very close to riding that line of over-training. The holidays damn near pushed me over. Sensing that, he canceled the CP test and gave me nothing but EZ miles to run for 2 weeks.

It worked and it was needed.

But several weeks have passed and we are approaching 14 weeks to go before the big marathon. It is TRULY the time for another CP test.

Here’s why.

My CP (critical power) went down recently to 245. Devastating news for me at the time (was at 250). I can’t afford to have that happen again. I not only need it to go back up to 250 but it would be much preferred if I could get it higher than that.

All of my training zones are a percentage of my CP. The higher the CP, the faster you’ll be training. At this point, I’m nowhere close to BQ pace on Marathon Paced (I never train by pace but rather power but for our purposes, Zone 3A is meant to simulate marathon pace) runs (probably around 7:30-7:40 when I need to be at 7:07) so it’s imperative I keep improving and get as close as possible to that pace.

Tomorrow is indeed a big day. And thank goodness – it appears I can do the test outdoors. Part of the reason why I flaked out the first time was I had to do the test on the treadmill, something that sounded awful (even for this treadmill enthusiast).

I freakin’ hate the idea (not because it’s bad but it sounds painful). Here’s the plan:

Workout Description:
– Warm up with 15 minutes of EZ running with 4x approximately 50m accelerations.
– recover breathing fully
– run 3 minutes at maximal 3 minute effort (try to pace as evenly as possible)
– recover breathing fully
– run EZ for 5-10 minutes
– recover breathing fully (there should be at least 20 minutes between test segments)
– run 10 minutes at maximal 10 minute effort (try to pace as evenly as possible)
– recover
– EZ running cool down for balance of planned duration

After the run, to get your CP/FTP estimate, you can enter the average power for the 3 minute and 10 minute segments here: http://www.cyclingpowerlab.com/MonodCriticalPower.aspx

All out for 3 minutes and 10 minutes? Yikes.

Worst of all – I know my buddy Andrew took this test and KILLED it. In my head, I wanted to approach his numbers (ugh – constantly comparing myself to others) but I’ve finally let that go. I just need to do me and do the best I can. However the numbers fall, I can live with (as long as the effort was there).

The plan is to record another power podcast with Andrew soon and I will reveal the CP test results there and discuss what it means moving forward.

Wish me luck!

 

 

 

On a roll?

I needed to get this on here before I forget.

Last week (2/5 – 2/11) was a damn good week. I hit 55.2 miles. I nailed all 3 of my workouts.

Coach even agreed:

Great week! I completely agree with this being your best training week. You are now officially on a roll.

The weather has still been up and down (mostly down) and very iffy on productive outdoor running. If I’m not sure I can run 7 miles @ tempo pace because of the conditions, I will use the treadmill so I can get that quality workout in like I did for this past week’s long run of 18 miles. It was my longest long run with Coach.

But the forecast looks promising for next week. Hoping things turn around soon in that area.

15 weeks to go (pretend you read this post 2 days ago on Sunday 2/11)

My FTP dropped!

I didn’t even realize this until later in the week but my estimated FTP (in the software Coach uses, WKO4) went down to 245. If you recall it has been at 250 since my last race.

Bummer.

You never want your FTP to go down when you are at the same weight. You only want it to go up. If you edit your weight often in Stryd (DON’T!!) then obviously your FTP should change.

I ultimately concluded that this happened because after a strong collection of weeks with Coach, I was riding that over-training line a little too close. Throw in the holidays and I was a mess. Afterwards, Coach gave me nothing but EZ runs for 2 weeks. And then last week I had 2 days off for a small operation. I wonder if the software took all of this into account and some of my struggles during recent workouts. Figuring that in, it makes sense that my FTP went down.

It also didn’t help that I was binging on sugar and often going into workouts feeling so sluggish. That’s another story and I’ve since cleaned that up.

The news fired me up and if I’m being frank, it pissed me off! I train hard. I train often. But damn, I was making some stupid mistakes along the way and it was time right the ship. I don’t even know if that’s the exact phrase but I’m leaving it there.

I went into Friday’s EZ run with a chip on my shoulder and executed it perfectly. The previous 2 EZ runs, my RE (running effectivess) was much lower than usual (0.98) and I think I can explain why but I might sound crazy if I do. Either way, I found out my RE was pretty dang good (from manual calculations) after Friday’s EZ effort of 8 miles. Form felt strong.

2018-02-03 14_04_30-Bill's RE Calculator - Google Sheets

Finally outdoors

I believe my last post was crying about how I felt after taking a trip to long run city (of 17 miles) outdoors (and my first outdoors run in ages) so I wanted to follow-up on that.

I ran EZ the next day and immediately felt much more comfortable.

And then the opportunity presented itself this past Monday to do my Max Aerobic/VO2 Max workout outdoors. It was decent enough outside. Sunday was truly the best of the 3 days though. I had some wind resistance on Monday but other than that, it was fine.

Here are the results:

mondays max aerobic workout

I thought it went pretty well. As you can see, I noted my prescribed ranges were 252-257W. I’d typically start the interval off hot and on the higher end of that and then taper off a bit (not by choice, haha). I only failed to hit my power goal on the last rep and it wasn’t for a lack of trying.

All in all, I’ll take it. I know this is the first of many outdoor workouts. But the weather guys around here are predicting a frigid February so I’m not sure if this will be a great month of outdoor running.

After last week’s long run I quickly realized I need to get outside at every opportunity. Unfortunately since Monday’s workout, it has been back to being below freezing temps and some snowfall. No worries though – I’m optimistic things will turn around soon!

A long run that taught me a lesson

download (1)

On yesterday’s 17 mile run I learned a hard lesson.

While the treadmill can be a safe and incredibly effective way to keep your fitness up during difficult weather conditions, outdoor fitness is just a different animal from indoor fitness.

Now that’s not some new or groundbreaking revelation but it’s a reminder I needed.

I’ve been mostly on the treadmill since Thanksgiving and while I love the convenience of it (and the entertainment I can find (i.e. Netflix, podcasts, music, etc) while using it), it can soften you up a bit if you’re not careful.

There’s something to be said about toughing out a run in colder weather. I don’t think running in icy conditions is a smart idea or running in weather that forces your pace to slow down by more than a minute is all that productive.

Yesterday’s run was an eye opener. I felt off from the very beginning. I felt uneven – like my legs were totally and utterly confused. Make no mistake about it – there’s a HUGE physical demand running long outdoors vs. indoors and I felt every bit of it afterwards. My calves were on fire for 5 minutes when I stepped in the house (a familiar feeling from the past). A sign I was not running with the help of my glutes at all.

Besides that, I felt like my form was all sorts of funky. My hip flexors felt tight and very much restricted. After the run, my upper back was sore, another indicator my form was quite different than how I run on DA TREADY.

It didn’t help that there was 20+mph winds at points. I hated those moments, if I’m being honest. There was 2 times where I literally screamed into the wind as it slapped me across the face. Kind of like a braveheart moment. The hills also had an impact on my legs later in the run but that’s my fault for not doing any sort of incline work.

I could not hit my power goals because of the damn wind. That’s one thing a Stryd power meter does not account for; wind.

I would say that was the most discouraging part of the run – feeling like I couldn’t nail my power goals. After 10 miles I was supposed to run 5 tempo miles @ 225-229 watts but I knew it would be a challenge with the wind and I simply couldn’t get there. I tried my best and wasn’t TOO far off but still, I hate coming up short.

I had to run today because it was 38 degrees and way less wind (about 7-10mph). And it felt so much better (I made sure to go through some of the lunge matrix I used to routinely do and some basic hip flexor stretches). My body responded so much better as well. After a good night’s rest, I had no soreness from yesterday’s run which is a quick recovery. Because I was forced to take 2 days off this week, I thought I’d run easy today (normally a rest day) to make up for it and I’m so glad I did.

I feel almost refreshed from the past 2 days. I’m ready to kick things in a higher gear. It is officially 17 weeks away until the big race. It’s time to make the most of my time and I’m ready to commit. Part of that means I need to get outdoors as much as I can. I’ll be honest, after yesterday’s run I was very worried about hitting my power goals during tougher workouts in the week but today gave me my confidence back as I found myself barely staying in Zone 1C and slowing down a few times to do so. I think I could have run 5 miles @ 225-229 watts today without much of a problem.

Here are the numbers from yesterday and today’s runs:

2018-01-28 18_19_05-Final Surge - Workout Details

2018-01-28 18_23_26-Final Surge - Workout Details

Check out my RE and LSS/kg for today’s EZ run (pretty good) :

27394232_10213610688495844_1972428189_n

Right knee

download

Sorry for the lack of updates this week – I’ve had to rearrange my schedule a bit for it all to work and as a result, every minute matters. I have posted daily videos on Instagram’s story platform (you have to follow @pacpie on Instagram and look for my “story” at the top of the app) following most of my runs this week.

Don’t worry though (as if), I will continue to blog about the march towards a BQ while training with a power device.

I wanted to briefly touch upon my right leg. Since last Summer, it has given me issues I’ve never had to deal with before. I did a lot of self diagnosing which led to inconsistent results and ultimately, an aggravated right knee. I then saw a professional. After feeling like all they wanted was a weekly co-pay, I abandoned that. I then figured it out on my own (for now).

I am thankful for how good my right leg/knee has felt for the past week or so. The last thing I wanted to deal with before my official training block begins with Coach is a bad or weaker knee. So I prioritized it recently (along with figuring out my GI issues) with the hopes of going into my marathon specific training block as close to 100% as I can be.

It was never what I’d call an injury (recently, at least, maybe last Summer it was) but rather an annoyance. My right leg was definitively weaker than my left and I had to figure out why. One benefit of seeing a professional was getting and learning how to do specific exercises to correct this imbalance.

Next up is getting some answers on my GI issues – something I’ve dealt with for a while now. I have a temporary solution in place and I am going through a round of tests to rule out stuff, like Celiacs for example. I had blood drawn for that last week and the results came back negative.

This week was my first full load of workouts in 3 weeks and it hasn’t been easy but it hasn’t killed me either. Tomorrow, I have to run long in the early AM. But everything has to go right in order for me to make it work (that includes waking up early enough, getting to the Arena as soon as the doors open, doing my morning duty, etc..).  I’ll let you know how that goes.

In about 3 or so weeks (maybe 4), Coach will start with the marathon specific training and I really look forward to a long but productive training cycle. I want this to be one of my best ever.

Whatever it takes

The workout lived up to the pain I expected. It wasn’t my legs that couldn’t handle it but rather my lungs this time. I only felt sorry for myself ONCE (during the 4th rep) but I got over it quick. Check out where my HR maxed out below and you’ll see I WAS WERKIN’.

2018-01-10 08_48_54-Final Surge - Workout Details

Also important to note that Coach prescribed my range as 252-254W, slightly above the range of recent similar workouts. I was a little ahead on the first 3 reps as you’ll see above. This is called a SUPRA Threshold workout. I freakin’ love that name, by the way.

My buddy Andrew gave me a song recommendation as motivation for my upcoming training block leading up to Buffalo. The song? Whatever it takes. The message? Do whatever it takes to get that BQ. That helped me crush my first few reps here.

Afterwards I used Instagram Story to document the pain verbally. I was a hot sweaty mess.

You’ll see some extra laps before the 5th rep. That was my bad. Total accident. I went to change the song (to get extra pumped up!!!) but I accidentally hit the cool down button which caused a comedy of errors. First it slowed down dramatically and then when I raised the speed it came back down so I just had to restart the run.

I was much stronger (mentally) on my last rep. Held on and left no doubt I would finish this damn workout.

 

It’s time to pick it back up

Coach gave me a full week of EZ running last week.

I took it as an opportunity to refresh my mind and my legs because he had an interesting note at the end of this past week: “20 weeks until Buffalo”

Now 20 weeks may seem like a long time to you but to me it’s not. I’ve traditionally done 18 week builds. And then another 4 weeks later, he noted, “16 weeks until Buffalo.”

If Coach doesn’t decide to start the marathon build at 18, I’m sure he’ll strongly consider somewhere around that 16 week mark.

He asked how I was doing and if I’ll be ready to start marathon specific training in “4-5 weeks” which lines up with the thinking above. I told him let’s roll!

I feel like a bit of a wimp from these last 2 weeks being mostly EZ running. Tomorrow is my first workout in that time period. I am nervous and excited about executing it. I know it won’t be easy (they never are) but necessary.

I will hopefully blog about it afterwards at some point. I am trying to update my Instagram “story” (@pacpie) on a daily basis. I hope to sprinkle in as many training updates as I can, as more instant updates. And then I’ll send you back here for the full scoop.

New Years Resolutions

It’s 2018. A brand new day, a brand new year.

I love thinking about and setting goals for the short and long term.

Here are some of the big ones for me:

new-year-s-resolution-sketch-28273506

BQ or BUST. 
Of course, this one is to be expected. It is the name of this blog after all. But seriously, I need to make it happen this year. I need to end it. The Buffalo Bills just ended a 17 year playoff drought and similarly I need to end a 35 year BQ drought. Granted, I’ve only been running for so many years but you get the point. I’d really love to get this monkey off my back. I knew it was a stretch for it to go down in 2017. I knew I had no chance in 2016. But something feels right about finally getting that BQ in 2018. “If you believe it, you can achieve it.”

Better Balance.

I’ve talked about this a little bit and it remains a goal of mine. I tend to obsess over one thing and it becomes my singular focus. I’d really like to be better balanced as a person. My goals in life are to be the best father I can be. To be the best husband I can be. To be a good friend. To be a good son. To be a good employee. To be a good runner. I think I’m decent at all of these most of the time but I tend to be really good (or really focused, I should say) on one of them until I move onto the next. 2018 is the year I conquer better balance.

Stronger, not lighter.

2017 was a year where I tested the theory: lighter = faster. I think it applies in certain situations (like if you’re 180lbs, and roughly 10-15lbs overweight, getting down to 165 could make a big difference). But for me, that is not the case. I ate incredibly healthy for a period of time and got down to a weight where I felt weak. Since the bod pod test, I’ve packed on some weight and feel better about my goal of getting stronger. I have this out-there theory that I’m fortunate where my body puts on muscle rather easily and if I just tried a bit more in that category, I could see results. I’ve always been “skinny jacked” – a phrase I’ve coined for those who show more muscle because they’re so dang skinny. I’d like to actually develop a little more upper body muscle and not feel like I have a wimpy chest.

Full body strength

As kind of a follow-up to that, I really want to be consistent with a strength routine of some kind and my goal right now is to follow Jay Dicharry’s program (in his new book) with some degree of consistency. All it takes is 3 times a week (20 minutes a session) for his program and that sounds doable to me. It could lead to a big breakthrough (it could for most), in my opinion (this I believe x 1000000). I love his new book and I think he explains it all so well. My biggest issue is perfecting how to do the movements in his plan. It takes good form and that’s something I’ll have to practice a lot of. I’m so terrible at trying these movements.

Solve my stomach issues

My GI issues are no secret. I still struggle with them to this day. This will be the year I figure out how to fully manage the situation. The other week when my runs were being interrupted on a daily basis – I couldn’t deal with it. It’s embarrassing having to note in every single run to Coach that “hey, that pause after mile 2 was me using the restroom.” It’s normal to happen every once in a while but not every run. And I’ve experimented and tried a lot of things but I’ve finally set something up with a specialist to talk about the issue. I admit that here in an effort to be as transparent as possible on this blog. For now though, I have some tricks up my sleeve that help me avoid Code Brown on some days. It’s when my routine is thrown off is when I struggle the most.

Continue the path of good eating

I recently had my blood drawn to be analyzed by the fine folks at Inside Tracker. My dude Jonathan Levitt strongly recommended the Ultimate Plan so that I did and I’m anxious to see my results. I hope to maximize this opportunity and find out what I’m lacking and learn from it. I made huge strides this year learning about what is good food and what is bad food and what works well for me. Again, it comes back to being better balanced in this area. I’ve done the ultra healthy style and I’ve also binged on pizza & wings & sweets. A little moderation goes a long way.

Be a better blogger

Blogging is hard. It’s an outdated way of communicating in this day and age, it feels like (side note: I’ve been trying to use Twitter/Instagram story more for training updates). But I think it has its place and just because it’s not the most popular method doesn’t mean I have to give up on it. Sometimes you can spend hours penciling a piece only to receive 1 comment. But I’m not doing it for that reason. I’m doing it to become a better writer, to learn from previous mistakes and it’s my form of therapy sometimes. Don’t get me wrong – this blog has built up a nice amount of followers and every time someone new subscribes via email, I get excited. When I first started this, I wrote every single day and tried my hardest to keep it entertaining. But over time I realized it wasn’t sustainable. Again, I won’t use that as an excuse to not write. I hope to continue to write as often as I can and deliver worthwhile content. I thank you for following along and hope you can pull something meaningful from this blog.

Here’s to a great 2018. On a personal level, 2017 was the most challenging year of my life. But my wife and I not only survived it, we came out stronger from the many road blocks in our way. I learned a lot about keeping the faith, staying strong in your weakest moments and believing that the best is yet to come. In my heart of hearts, I believe 2018 will be a fantastic year. Let’s make it happen..