I found myself curious about the Stryd footpod after acquiring an Apple Watch Series 4 a few months ago. I travel a lot and end up doing a lot of treadmill workouts. The Apple Watch 4 does a decent job of recording distances with is accelerometer on treadmills from your wrist, but still a far cry from being accurate. So after doing some research, I found that the only answer to my accuracy issue was to use a foot pod with my Apple Watch. And the only foot pod compatible was the Stryd pod, retailing for 200 dollars. Skeptical about the price, I decided to give it a try and return it if it didn’t live up to the accuracy hype. All I can say about the Stryd pod after owning it for a couple of months now is WOW! It is one really cool piece of tech, and anyone who trains in a city environment or in heavy trees, it is a must if you really want to know how far you ran as well as reference an accurate pace.
The Stryd pod comes with two clips for your shoes, a charging cradle, and a cord. That’s it. For 200$ it seems like you should get an entire watch, but don’t let the minimal little foot pod fool you. It does A LOT! It records so many metrics and running information that I still don’t have a handle on it, but there are some basics that anyone can understand. Stryd records your distance, elevation gain, cadence, ground contact time, and vertical oscillation. Pretty much exactly the same metrics that the Garmin Advanced HR Strap or Dynamics Pod does. However, Stryd does more. It records your Running Power, much like a cyclist uses to train and race with. After inputting your profile information, and estimated race times, Stryd computes a Critical Power for you, much like a VO2 Max value. A hardcore Stryd user may not even reference heart rate at all for setting pace or effort levels, but can use his/her Power Zones to run off. Stryd has 5 Zones to run in. Easy, Moderate, Threshold, Intervals, and Repetition. After a few runs, you can start to see what zones are your running zones and Stryd allows you to dial in your effort level for the long haul. For instance, on the trail, my long endurance zone is around 230-250 Watts. When I ramp up to a Tempo zone I run more in the 290-320 Watt average. After a while you rarely even look at your heart rate with Stryd, focusing more on staying in your target Power Zone.
For me, the most amazing fact about Stryd is its accuracy. Stryd seems to be the most accurate running device I have ever tested, putting GPS distance measuring to shame. To ensure you get accurate results, you need to run with Stryd on an official track and get the calibration factor dialed in. You must also make sure you are running exactly one mile on the track and not 1600 meters. 1 mile equals 1609 meters if your track is missing the mile start line. After a couple of miles of adjustments, I was able to get Stryd to read exactly 1 mile with NO GPS assistance. Stryd claims it is accurate right out of the box, but I would take that with a grain of salt. My pod was a bit over 3% short on all my runs until I calibrated it on a track. Garmin makes it easy in the watch settings to set a calibration factor. Because I was 3% short on my runs, I had to set the factor to 1.03. Also, on the Garmin Connect IQ store, you can download a few different Stryd/Power data fields to use for free. You can tell your Garmin to use a food pod for SPEED and PACE instead of GPS. On my Apple Watch 4, I use the iRunsmooth App and it allows for a calibration factor as well. By default, the iRunsmooth app only uses the Stryd pod for distance and pace when connected. Currently, the Stryd iOS app DOES NOT allow for a calibration factor, so iRunsmooth is your only choice to make Stryd accurate with the Apple Watch. If you are using a Suunto Watch it calibrates automatically but you must find an open straight road with a good view of the sky. Once Stryd is calibrated properly, you don’t even need GPS to run with unless you want to record your track.
To test Stryd, I ran in Forest Park in Portland, OR. The trail was quite windy and tree covered. Typically a GPS watch will lose up to 10% distance in this scenario, or more. My friend was using a Sunnto Ambit 3 Peak, and I used my Stryd pod and Apple Watch 4. The trail is marked every .25 miles, so a perfect place to test Stryd. I was quite shocked at the results. After a 10.6-mile trail run, Stryd read 10.57 miles while the Suunto read 10.0 miles. A huge difference! The Suunto lost .60 miles to only a few feet with Stryd. Every time I ran past a ¼ mile mark, the Stryd was deadly accurate, but the Suunto kept losing ground. It was hard to believe on a trail with different stride lengths, twists and turns, shuffle steps, etc, that Stryd still was that accurate. Time and again I have tested Stryd and each time it is remarkably accurate. You can also now reference an accurate real-time pace with Stryd because there is never an issue with GPS reception.
One of the coolest things about Stryd is battery life. I usually charge Stryd once a month. It is so infrequent that I even forget to check its battery level. I believe the battery life is advertised in the 30-hour range which seems pretty accurate. Stryd should have battery power to finish most 100 mile races. Another great aspect of using Stryd is the battery power you can save on your GPS watch! I now run with my Garmin Fenix 3 HR in Ultra Trac mode with Stryd. I get a general GPS track later to review, but the distance is absolutely dead accurate. Thus, my Fenix 3 HR is now only limited by Stryd battery power and not by its own 16-hour battery. Pretty neat stuff!
So in conclusion, if you are someone who trains on trails covered by trees, or trains in an urban environment where GPS signal is hindered by buildings or even trains on treadmills, there is no better tool to own than Stryd. Stryd also pairs with Zwift so if you love to do virtual runs on treadmills, it works wonderfully. Stryd is also a pretty cool tool to learn to run off Power output instead of heart rate. Stryd claims once you know your endurance and race Power zones, you can meter out your energy on race day and never bonk or hit the wall. I believe if you train enough with Stryd this is true. Stryd also produces endless amounts of data on your running form and performance for a true tech running nerds. For me, I just love the fact that wherever I run, Stryd is giving me dead accurate distance and pace. In my opinion, Stryd is totally worth the 200$ price tag. Check out this link to see if your current watch works with Stryd.