The use of power meters for training guidance and the development of personal metrics for monitoring training progression has, over the past 15 years, transformed all rigorous training approaches for cycling. I expect the same to take place in running with the recent advent of reliable, easy to use running power meters. Jim Vance, a former professional triathlete and current triathlon and duathalon coach, has jumped on the bandwagon and written the first comprehensive book on the use of power meter training for running.
This book is a great place to start to understand the reasons that one might want to use power data for training. The introductory chapters provide a compelling, sound basis from which a power-based training approach can be developed.
From the fundamentals (and Vance’s extensive experience in utilization of power data in cycling training) a detailed discourse on the application of power meter training to running is presented in clear language and informative graphics.
Central to any power meter-based training is the concept of parameterization of economy (net oxygen use per distance traveled) and efficiency (net pace per unit of power produced)- two critically important running metrics that, prior to the development of running power meters, could only be inferred from other, indirect, measurements. Experienced runners already have a sense of these parameters from their training but, just as with heart rate, having an analytic measure to confirm and reiterate what is felt or indirectly measured is yet another tool to get the most from one’s training. Although the author suggests that these data can be used in a positive feedback loop to adjust running technique and stride specifics, I have seen little in the peer-reviewed literature that supports the efficacy of stride and technique manipulation that results in increased performance at the competitive regional, national, or international level. Setting technique aside, the use of running economy and running efficiency metrics in training is, in theory, the ultimate goal of training for running where, given an individual’s specific and unique biomechanics, a training progression that optimizes economy and efficiency will yield a competitor who will likely perform to their greatest physical potential. The mental side is another story.
In a comprehensive way, Vance runs through the details of utilizing running power for training including how to get started, determining functional threshold power (FTP- the power meter equivalent of lactate threshold for HR training) and setting zones, and then using these data for training plan development and monitoring. Vance also provides the most concise, clearest and transparent guide that I have read pertaining to the use of the Training Peaks online software tool that has power metrics fully integrated into analysis algorithms. It is a good reference for anyone starting out with TP as their training tracking and analysis choice.
Also included in the book are some more advanced training approaches as well as some sample training plans for road running events from 5 km through the marathon.
This book does not address application of running power to trail and ultra running but it seems straightforward that the concepts are directly transferable with similar and appropriate modifications as is currently operative with heart rate training for trail runners and ultra runners. In fact, given the high variability in trail grades, and therefore in pace, the power meter is an even more valuable tool on trails than it is on roads. And for ultra runners, the power meter should substantially help in pacing during training and racing- a critical skill for success.
Provided that the current crop of power meters (e.g. Stryd) succeed in providing an accurate and easy to use method for obtaining reliable running power metrics, we should see a similar transformation of running training that has been experienced in cycling training and Vance’s book will be an important part of this transformation. If you are considering adding power to your running training, I highly recommend this book as a comprehensive, clearly written, and valuable resource.
Personally, I will not be adding power to my training metrics until Garmin transparently accommodates running power into their firmware and software for their high-end watches. Right now the integration is “clugey” at best for Garmin. Suunto high-end watch users already have a fully integrated running power capability and with direct download into Training Peaks, everything in this book can be applied to your training.
- First comprehensive resource for use of power meters for running training
- clear, concise writing with informative graphics
- nice introductory information on the use of Training Peaks for training with power for running
- can also be used as a basic training guide and plan development tool
- no discussion on how running power meters work and which meters are currently providing reliable data
- no specific discourse on application of running power measurement to trail and ultra running where the use of power may be most advantageous