While I was a sprinter in high school and college, my favorite way to exercise today is long distance running. Pace has served as my primary metric for years and I seem to have plateaued with fairly consistent half marathon times over the last five years. I want to do better in 2019 and am going to train to power levels to achieve success.
A few months ago the folks at Stryd sent along the latest version of its power meter and I’ve been running with it in order to establish some baseline power levels while trying to understand how power could be used to improve my performance. Power is commonly used in cycling, but is fairly new for running. There are still differences between available power meters, but Stryd has been at it for a few years and has a system that is worth consideration.
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Running to a pace has been my approach to training for years, but the thing about pace is that the data lags a bit behind current performance due to GPS signal acquisition, update speeds, and conditions. I also train in areas with lots of hills so maintaining pace often results in working harder than I probably should while running uphill during my training runs. Regular readers know I also use many different wearables and current pace performance varies by those devices.
Some people also train to a heart rate level, which is something I have yet to try. This can be a better approach for someone like me who runs on hills, but heart rate readings also lag behind current conditions and wrist-based heart rate is not as accurate as measurements from chest straps. I hate wearing chest straps as they tend to chafe my chest and are just not comfortable enough for me to put up with them.
Price and retail package
The Stryd power meter is available now for $199, which could be half the cost of your wearable GPS sports watch or smartwatch. It does come with a 30-day trial so you can test it out to see if this price is worth it for you and your training regime. Although I haven’t yet ran a race after training to a power level, I like what I have experienced so far and plan to purchase one for my own routine.
The retail package includes the Stryd power meter, microUSB cable, two shoe clips, and a charging base. The Stryd power meter itself weighs in at just about nine grams so you cannot even tell when it is mounted to your shoe. The pod is covered in matte black soft touch material and looks a bit like a thick guitar pick. The bottom is flat, while the top appears similar to a topographic relief map of a mountain with various levels and a central flat top piece. There are small openings on the front and back to secure the Stryd to the shoe clip.
The shoe clip slides under your laces and then the Stryd snaps in at the front and back to stay in place. I’ve been running with the Stryd for more than four months and it has stayed securely in place through rain, sun, and other environmental conditions.
The charging base looks similar to the Stryd with one side being flat and the other side having the topographical map look. I couldn’t get it to charge at first because I didn’t realize that the flat part faces up while the raised part sits on a flat surface. There is actually an outline on the glossy flat part that indicates where you place the Stryd to charge up wirelessly. The microUSB cable attaches to the charging base to power the wireless charger.
One thing that a Twitter follower pointed out to me is that the right flat spot on the Samsung Wireless Charger Duo can be used to charge up the Stryd power meter, in addition to the Galaxy Watch that it is designed to charge.
Setup on Garmin and Apple Watch
When the Stryd power meter first arrived, I was using a Garmin Fenix 5 Plus GPS sportwatch. There is an offical Stryd Power data field that you can add to your running screen on your compatible Garmin watch in order to run to a power level. There is also a Stryd IQ widget that lets you view Stryd data on your Garmin watch.
After installing the Stryd Power data field and setting up my running fields with it, I simply launched it on the watch and then connected the Stryd power meter.
I recently committed myself to using the Apple Watch Series 4 as my smartwatch and was very pleased to find a Stryd app for the Apple Watch. The Stryd app is actually one of the best running apps for the Apple Watch with the ability to have up to three screens of data consisting of four to seven metrics per screen. Metrics available include time, power, pace, distance, heart rate, cadence, ground contact time, VO, and gain.
Also: Garmin Fenix 5X Plus review: Champion multi-sport GPS watch with music, Garmin Pay, and advanced sleep tracking
To use the Stryd app on the Apple Watch, you first install the smartphone app and connect the Stryd to the iPhone. There is then a step to sync the Stryd to the Apple Watch after the iPhone setup is complete.
Options for averaging are also available so you can have pace and power shown in real time, 3-second, 10-second, lap, or average metrics. Distance and time options include real time or lap.
While you can select up to three screens, there is always one more screen in the Stryd app that shows you your current power in large numbers right in the middle of the screen. The target and tolerance is shown in the upper right corner. A large up or down arrow is shown above or below the current power number in order to inform you if you need to pick up the effort or slow down a bit.
Lap units can be setup while you can also choose to trigger a side button press of your Apple Watch for laps. Power alerts, target power, and alert tolerances can also be established. As you can see, the Apple Watch app is fantastic and with the Stryd capturing all sorts of running dynamics, this combo rivals a GPS sports watch.
Stryd smartphone application
When you launch the Stryd application you are first shown a dashboard view with an insight below your profile picture and then your last five synced runs below that. A map graphic, date, label, distance, time, and average power for the run are shown. Tap on one of these runs to view all of the finite details of your run in summary, graph, and lap tabs. You can even tap on a Storyline playback button to watch your run as a cool animation with live maps and power changes as your run is traced on the display.
Details and graphs for power, elevation, pace, cadence, heart rate, and leg spring stiffness are shown in the app. The lap view shows a breakdown of your run with power, distance, and more shown.
You can view calendar history of your runs and even use the smartphone app connected to the Stryd to record a run. This could be helpful if your watch is dead and you want to go on a run with your phone.
The last tab is full of settings for the Stryd, including an option to upgrade the firmware of the Stryd power meter. It has been updated a couple of times since I started testing it and gets better over time.
The Stryd data collected via a connected Garmin watch also appears in Garmin Connect so you will see several plots of this data within Garmin Connect. Unfortunately, you don’t see all of the Stryd data there, but you can visit the Stryd PowerMeter website to view all of the data captured by the Stryd power meter and synced to your smartphone.
Experiences running with power
One of the first things you need to do before using the Stryd power meter is to perform the critical power test or enter the results of your latest 5K or 10K run. This data is then used to establish your critical power and critical pace, which is then used to calculate and establish your five zones for running and training.
I highly recommend reading this white paper (PDF) that goes into some detail on running power. Calculating power for running is a fairly complex undertaking since there are so many different variables that are specific to each of us as it has to do with weight, age, height, and much more. Power is a calculation of force and the force exerted by each of us is vastly different. These concepts are explained in great detail in the Stryd power user manual (PDF).
As a professional engineer, I find the analysis and use of power to be fascinating science. The white paper also provided some wonderful education on other metrics that I have seen captured by Garmin devices with little understanding of these details in the past.
As I continue to try to learn about and understand power, the relationship of the various zones to paces I run makes sense. For example, my zone 3 level has a power level from 295 to 328, which correlates to a pace of 10:48 to 9:48 minutes per mile. Zones 4 and 5 increase to 8:30 and 7:30 minute per mile paces which I can do only for very short runs.
Running to a power level has been very easy with both the Garmin and Apple Watch because there is just a single number to view on my watch. As a guy approaching 50 who needs readers at times, having a big single number to use for training is awesome.
Also: Apple Watch Series 4 back on my wrist: Unnecessary, but indispensable
I immediately noticed that running to a power level resulted in me running up hills slower than I typically have before when I was trying to maintain a certain pace. Maintaining a pace up hill is tough and it may have led to me running less efficiently than running to a power level, primarily due to overexertion and lack of adequate recovery.
The Stryd power meter has an advertised battery life of 20 hours. I have been able to go about two to three weeks with it during my typical running regime so that seems like an accurate estimate.
Future training plan
With the new year starting tomorrow, I have setup a 5K training plan in the Stryd PowerCenter to try active training to a power level. This was easy to setup, but unfortunately these Stryd training plans do not yet sync to the smartphone app or a wearable device. Since the training plans mix up different levels of power, I am going to have to write down the training plan and try to memorize, or read, the plan while running. I would love to see these training plans sync to my Apple Watch for active training and hope that comes in a future update from Stryd.
After this short 5K test, I need to start up a formal training regime in February since I am running the Seattle Rock ‘n Roll Half Marathon in June. In order to help motivate me to achieve a personal best this year, I am participating as a St. Jude hero in an effort to help out those unfortunate children and their families who have to deal with cancer at a young age.
So far, I am pleased with the Stryd power meter and the combination with the Apple Watch is fantastic. The Stryd app and power meter may serve as a must-have for Apple Watch owners and I cannot wait to start my training tomorrow.
YouTube launches hashtag landing pages to all users – TechCrunch
YouTube is embracing the hashtag. The company has been quietly working on a new feature that allows users to better discover content using hashtags — either by clicking on a hashtag on YouTube or by typing in a hashtag link directly. Before, these actions would return a mix of content related to the hashtag, but not only those videos where the hashtag had been directly used. Now that’s changing, as YouTube has fully rolled out its new “hashtag landing pages.”
Going forward, when you click on a hashtag on YouTube, you’ll be taken to a dedicated landing page that contains only videos that are using the hashtag. This page is also sorted to keep the “best” videos at the top, YouTube claimed. The ranking algorithm, however, may need some work as it’s currently surfacing an odd mix of both newer and older videos and seems to be heavily dominated by Indian creator content, in several top categories.
The result, then, is not the equivalent to something like a hashtag search on a social network like Facebook or Twitter, for example, where more recent content gets top billing. For that reason, it may be difficult to use these hashtag landing pages for discovery of new videos to watch, as intended, but could still serve as an interesting research tool for creators looking to better leverage the hashtag format.
For instance, you may find that the #interiordesign hashtag is a crowded place, with 8,400 channels and 29,000 videos, but a niche hashtag like #interiordesignlivingroom has under 100 channels and videos. If people began to use hashtags regularly to seek out videos, using narrowly targeted tags could potentially help creators’ videos be more easily found.
The hashtag landing pages are accessed through clicking on a tag on YouTube, not by doing a hashtag search. However, if you want to go to a particular hashtag page directly, you can use the URL format of youtube.com/hashtag/[yourterm] (e.g., youtube.com/hashtag/beauty).
We’ve noticed, in testing the feature, that there are not hashtag pages for some controversial terms associated with content YouTube previously said it would block, like QAnon and election conspiracy videos, such as #stopthesteal.
The feature itself was first announced through YouTube’s Community forum earlier this month, where it was described as a new way that YouTube would “group content together and help you discover videos through hashtags.”
On Tuesday, YouTube noted on its “Creator Insider” channel that the feature had been fully rolled out to 100% of all users. (The video’s creator, however, misspoke, by saying you could “search” for hashtags to reach the new landing page. That is not the case today.) The hashtag landing pages are available on both desktop and mobile.
‘Slow dating’ app Once is acquired by Dating Group for $18M as it seeks to expand its portfolio – TechCrunch
Five-year-old “slow dating” app Once has been acquired by the Dating Group, one of the largest companies in the dating world, for $18 million in cash and stock. Dating Group has 73 million registered users across a range of portfolio apps, including Dating.com.
Clémentine Lalande, co-founder and CEO of Once, will continue leading the company under a two-year agreement. Fellow co-founder Jean Meyer retained a stake in the company after departing two years ago.
Once has 9 million users on its platform, while the startup also garnered a further 1 million from a spin-out app it later launched called Pickable.
Once is a dating app that uses matching algorithms to deliver just one match per day to each user. It pitched itself as an alternative to the frenetically paced apps such as Tinder and Bumble. Indeed, Bumble revealed last week that two in five people of those it surveyed are taking longer to get to know someone as a result of pandemic lockdowns. And 38% Bumble users admit that it had made them want something more serious. So Once had a ready market.
Each pair on the Once app has 24 hours of each other’s attention and can continue chatting if they “like” each other. The AI looks at the account’s info, dating preferences and previous history in order to find the best possible match. Users can also rate each particular profile to let the AI better understand their taste.
In a statement, Lalande said: “I am thrilled to join the Dating Group today, both because of their proven focus on post-swiping dating alternatives, and to leverage the huge synergies between Once and Dating Group. In such a concentrated and competitive market having a large partner will allow us to augment our reach and accelerate geographical expansion”.
Bill Alena, chief investment officer at Dating Group said: “We strongly believe in the concept of AI and making quality matches. We see a huge potential in integrating Once into our portfolio. We’re excited to have Clémentine join Dating Group, she and her team have built a fascinating product and with this acquisition, Dating Group expands deeper into the Western European market.”
Dating Group has offices in seven countries and a team of more than 500 professionals, with more than 73 million registered users across the entire portfolio. Its brands include Dating.com, DateMyAge, Dil Mil, Cherish, Tubit, AnastasiaDate and ChinaLove.
Facebook’s Oversight Board will review the decision to suspend Trump – TechCrunch
Facebook announced Thursday that its newly established external policy review group will take on one of the company’s most consequential acts: The decision to suspend former President Trump.
On January 7, Facebook suspended Trump’s account indefinitely. That decision followed the president’s actions the day prior, when he incited a violent mob that stormed the U.S. Capitol, leaving American democracy on a razor’s edge and a nation already deep in crisis even more shaken.
Facebook VP of Global Affairs and Communications Nick Clegg called the circumstances around Trump’s suspension an “unprecedented set of events which called for unprecedented action” and explained why the Oversight Board would review the case.
“Our decision to suspend then-President Trump’s access was taken in extraordinary circumstances: A U.S. president actively fomenting a violent insurrection designed to thwart the peaceful transition of power; five people killed; legislators fleeing the seat of democracy,” Clegg said in a blog post.
“This has never happened before — and we hope it will never happen again.”
In its own statement on taking the case, the Oversight Board explained that a five-member panel will evaluate the case soon with a decision planned within 90 days. Once that smaller group reaches its conclusions on how to handle Trump’s Facebook status — and, potentially, future cases involving world leaders — the decision will require approval from the majority of the board’s members. After that, the pace picks up a bit and Facebook will have one week to implement the board’s final decision.
Facebook likes to say that the board is independent, but in spite of having the autonomy to make “binding” case-by-case decisions, the board grew out of Facebook itself. The company appointed the board’s four original co-chairs and those members went on to expand the group into a 20-member body.
As we’ve previously reported, the mechanics of the board bias its activity toward Facebook content taken down — not the stuff that stays up, which generally creates larger headaches for the company and society at large. Facebook has responded to this critique, noting that while the board may initially focus on reviewing takedowns, content still up on the platforms will be part of the project’s scope “as quickly as possible.”
Given some of the criticism around the group, the Trump case is a big moment for how impactful the board’s decisions will really wind up being. If it were to overturn Facebook’s decision, that decision would likely kick up a new firestorm of interest around Trump’s Facebook account, even as the former president recedes from the public eye.
The most interesting bit about the process is that it will allow the former president’s account admins to appeal his own case. If they do so, the board will review a “user statement” arguing why Trump’s account should be reinstated.
Facebook’s external decision-making body is meant as a kind of “supreme court” for the company’s own policy making. It doesn’t really move quickly or respond in the moment, but instead seeks to establish precedents that can lend insight to future policy cases. While the per-case decisions are binding, whether the broader precedents it creates will impact Facebook’s future policy decisions remains to be seen.
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