Athletics Weekly - - Promotion -

POWER is a con­cept that is fa­mil­iar to triath­letes and cy­clists where, in sim­ple terms, we are mea­sur­ing how much force and speed an ath­lete is pro­duc­ing at a given time. Within cy­cling this is mea­sured most com­monly us­ing force gauges within the crank or pedal, with wrist-based power for run­ners this is mea­sured us­ing an al­go­rithm us­ing GPS and barom­e­ter read­ings.

With a plethora of data and in­for­ma­tion al­ready avail­able to run­ners, why add this ad­di­tional met­ric? From a coach’s point of view there are sev­eral key ben­e­fits to be­ing able to track run­ning power:

Mak­ing the crit­i­cal mea­sur­able

Good me­chan­ics and an ath­lete’s abil­ity to ap­ply and con­trol force is crit­i­cal to per­for­mance. As a part of the train­ing mix for en­durance ath­letes we in­clude drills, strides, hill rep­e­ti­tions, even el­e­ments of sprint and a-lac­tate train­ing to de­velop anaer­o­bic speed re­serve. How­ever, in­creas­ingly, I will see coaches fo­cus­ing only on what they can mea­sure, which com­monly leaves these crit­i­cal com­po­nents at best as an af­ter­thought or even to­tally miss­ing. Run­ning power adds mea­sur­a­bil­ity and there­fore a method of track­ing pro­gres­sion in these crit­i­cal as­pects of train­ing.

Half mea­sures?

Heart rate, heart rate vari­abil­ity and phys­i­o­log­i­cal mea­sure­ments such as lac­tate tests are in­creas­ingly be­ing used as a mea­sure­ment of how hard an ath­lete has worked within a ses­sion – com­monly called mea­sure­ments of ‘in­ter­nal load’ – but this is only half the pic­ture of a work­out’s ‘real load’. Run­ning power al­lows an­other key dataset – ‘mus­cle load’ which is a mea­sure­ment of ‘ex­ter­nal load’. To­gether these pro­vide a more com­plete pic­ture of how hard an ath­lete worked in a ses­sion or race and can be used to in­form a more ac­cu­rate as­sess­ment of the ef­fec­tive­ness of a ses­sion, pro­gres­sion or ap­pro­pri­ate re­cov­ery time.

In­stant feed­back

Power is in­stant and re­spon­sive whereas heart rate al­ways in­volves a lag. Heart rate is a use­ful mea­sure, for ex­am­ple in a 20-30 minute tempo block at 80-85% of max HR, but it’s much less use­ful in short in­ter­vals such as 100-400m reps on the track, or short hills, where the lag in HR never re­flects the real work you put in. This in­stant feed­back can also be highly ef­fec­tive whilst pac­ing that first few hun­dred me­tres of a race when your legs feel good and your HR is still low, or on hilly cour­ses where your HR can take time to catch up and ‘bite you’.

The Po­lar Van­tage V of­fers ad­vanced met­rics and coach­ing fea­tures, in­clud­ing wrist-based run­ning power

Coach Nick An­der­son puts run­ners through their paces to test the new Van­tage V

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