Stryd running power meter hands-on: Trying focused power training in the new year
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.
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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.
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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.
Cymulate snaps up $70M to help cybersecurity teams stress test their networks with attack simulations – TechCrunch
The cost of cybercrime has been growing at an alarming rate of 15% per year, projected to reach $10.5 trillion by 2025. To cope with the challenges that this poses, organizations are turning to a growing range of AI-powered tools to supplement their existing security software and the work of their security teams. Today, a startup called Cymulate — which has built a platform to help those teams automatically and continuously stress test their networks against potential attacks with simulations, and provide guidance on how to improve their systems to ward off real attacks — is announcing a significant round of growth funding after seeing strong demand for its tools.
The startup — founded in Tel Aviv, with a second base in New York — has raised $70 million, a Series D that it will be using to continue expanding globally and investing in expanding its technology (both organically and potentially through acquisitions).
Today, Cymulate’s platform covers both on-premise and cloud networks, providing breach and attack simulations for endpoints, email and web gateways and more; automated “red teaming”; and a “purple teaming” facility to create and launch different security breach scenarios for organizations that lack the resources to dedicate people to a live red team — in all, a “holistic” solution for companies looking to make sure they are getting the most out of the network security architecture that they already have in place, in the worlds of Eyal Wachsman, Cymulate’s CEO.
“We are providing our customers with a different approach for how to do cybersecurity and get insights [on] all the products already implemented in a network,” he said in an interview. The resulting platform has found particular traction in the current market climate. Although companies continue to invest in their security architecture, security teams are also feeling the market squeeze, which is impacting IT budgets, and sometimes headcount in an industry that was already facing a shortage of expertise. (Cymulate cites figures from the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology that estimate a shortfall of 2.72 million security professionals in the workforce globally.)
The idea with Cymulate is that it’s built something that helps organizations get the most out of what they already have. “And at the end, we provide our customers the ability to prioritize where they need to invest, in terms of closing gaps in their environment,” Wachsman said.
The round is being led by One Peak, with Susquehanna Growth Equity (SGE), Vertex Ventures Israel, Vertex Growth and strategic backer Dell Technologies Capital also participating. (All five also backed Cymulate in its $45 million Series C last year.) Relatively speaking, this is a big round for Cymulate, doubling its total raised to $141 million, and while the startup is not disclosing its valuation, I understand from sources that it is around the $500 million mark.
Wachsman noted that the funding is coming on the heels of a big year for the startup (the irony being that the constantly escalating issue of cybersecurity and growing threat landscape spells good news for companies built to combat that). Revenues have doubled, although it’s not disclosing any numbers today, and the company is now at over 200 employees and works with some 500 paying customers across the enterprise and mid-market, including NTT, Telit, and Euronext, up from 300 customers a year ago.
Wachsman, who co-founded the company with Avihai Ben-Yossef and Eyal Gruner, said he first thought of the idea of building a platform to continuously test an organization’s threat posture in 2016, after years of working in cybersecurity consulting for other companies. He found that no matter how much effort his customers and outside consultants put into architecting security solutions annually or semi-annually, those gains were potentially lost each time a malicious hacker made an unexpected move.
“If the bad guys decided to penetrate the organization, they could, so we needed to find a different approach,” he said. He looked to AI and machine learning for the solution, a complement to everything already in the organization, to build “a machine that allows you to test your security controls and security posture, continuously and on demand, and to get the results immediately… one step before the hackers.”
Last year, Wachsman described Cymulate’s approach to me as “the largest cybersecurity consulting firm without consultants,” but in reality the company does have its own large in-house team of cybersecurity researchers, white-hat hackers who are trying to find new holes — new bugs, zero days and other vulnerabilities — to develop the intelligence that powers Cymulate’s platform.
These insights are then combined with other assets, for example the MITRE ATT&CK framework, a knowledge base of threats, tactics and techniques used by a number of other cybersecurity services, including others building continuous validation services that compete with Cymulate. (Competitors include the likes of FireEye, Palo Alto Networks, Randori, AttackIQ and many more.)
Cymulate’s work comes in the form of network maps that detail a company’s threat profile, with technical recommendations for remediation and mitigations, as well as an executive summary that can be presented to financial teams and management who might be auditing security spend. It also has built tools for running security checks when integrating any services or IT with third parties, for instance in the event of an M&A process or when working in a supply chain.
Today the company focuses on network security, which is big enough in itself but also leaves the door open for Cymulate to acquire companies in other areas like application security — or to build that for itself. “This is something on our roadmap,” said Wachsman.
If potential M&A leads to more fundraising for Cymulate, it helps that the startup is in one of the handful of categories that are going to continue to see a lot of attention from investors.
“Cybersecurity is clearly an area that we think will benefit from the current macroeconomic environment, versus maybe some of the more capital-intensive businesses like consumer internet or food delivery,” said David Klein, a managing partner at One Peak. Within that, he added, “The best companies [are those] that are mission critical for their customers… Those will continue to attract very good multiples.”
Open-source password manager Bitwarden raises $100M – TechCrunch
Bitwarden, an open-source password manager for enterprises and consumers, has raised $100 million in a round of funding led by PSG, with participation form Battery Ventures.
Founded initially back in 2015, Santa Barbara, California-based Bitwarden operates in a space that includes well-known incumbents including 1Password, which recently hit a $6.8 billion valuation off the back of a $620 million fundraise, and Lastpass, which was recently spun out as an independent company again two years after landing in the hands of private equity firms.
In a nutshell, Bitwarden and its ilk make it easier for people to generate secure passwords automatically, and store all their unique passwords and sensitive information such as credit card data in a secure digital vault, saving them from reusing the same insecure password across all their online accounts.
Bitwarden’s big differentiator, of course, lies in the fact that it’s built atop an open-source codebase, which for super security-conscious individuals and businesses is a good thing — they can fully inspect the inner-workings of the platform. Moreover, people can contribute back to the codebase and expedite development of new features.
On top of a basic free service, Bitwarden ships a bunch of paid-for premium features and services, including advanced enterprise features like single sign-on (SSO) integrations and identity management.
It’s worth noting that today’s “minority growth investment” represents Bitwarden’s first substantial external funding in its seven year history, though we’re told that it did raise a small undisclosed series A round back in 2019. Its latest cash injection is indicative of how the world has changed in the intervening years. The rise of remote work, with people increasingly meshing personal and work accounts on the same devices, means the same password is used across different services. And such poor password and credential hygiene puts businesses at great risk.
Additionally, growing competition and investments in the management space means that Bitwarden can’t rest on its laurels — it needs to expand, and that is what its funds will be used for. Indeed, Bitwarden has confirmed plans to extend its offering into several aligned security and privacy verticals, including secrets management — something that 1Password expanded into last year via its SecretHub acquisition.
“The timing of the investment is ideal, as we expand into opportunities in developer secrets, passwordless technologies, and authentication,” Bitwarden CEO Michael Crandell noted in a press release. “Most importantly, we aim to continue to serve all Bitwarden users for the long haul.”
downgrade the ‘middle-men’ resellers – TechCrunch
As well as the traditional carbon offset resellers and exchanges such as Climate Partner or Climate Impact X the tech space has also produced a few, including Patch (US-based, raised $26.5M) and Lune (UK-based, raised $4M).
Now, Ceezer, a B2B marketplace for carbon credits, has closed a €4.2M round, led by Carbon Removal Partners with participation of impact-VC Norrsken VC and with existing investor Picus Capital.
Ceezer ’s pitch is that companies have to deal with a lot of complexity when considering how they address carbon removal and reduction associated with their businesses. Whie they can buy offsetting credits, the market remains pretty ‘wild-west’, and has multiple competing standards running in parallel. For instance, the price range of $5 to $500 per ton is clearly all over the place, and sometimes carbon offset resellers make buyers pay high prices for low-quality carbon credits, pulling in extra revenues from a very opaque market.
The startup’s offering is for corporates to integrate both carbon removal and avoidance credits in one package. It does this by mining the offsetting market for lots of data points, enabling carbon offset sellers to reach buyers without having to use these middle-men resellers.
The startup claims that sellers no longer waste time and money on bespoke contracts with corporates but instead use Ceezer’s legal framework for all transactions. Simultaneously, buyers can access credits at a primary market level, maximizing the effect of the dollars they spend on carbon offsets.
Ceezer says it now has over 50 corporate customers and has 200,000 tons of carbon credits to sell across a variety of categories. and will use the funds to expand its impact and sourcing team, the idea being to make carbon removal technologies more accessible to corporate buyers, plus widen the product offering for credit sellers and buyers.
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