How to measure your running power

JUL 13, 2022

Minute 1: What would a car-free downtown be like for runners?

Sometimes, running through crowded city streets makes us more nervous than a long-tailed cat in a room full of rocking chairs. Urban runners and cyclists often feel as if they need 9 lives to survive their daily training sessions. City sidewalks are crowded with pedestrians and bike lanes are often poorly planned afterthoughts that put you at risk as you ride. It doesn’t have to be like this, though, and some American cities are seeing the benefits of car free zones. A new story published this week has the details: “The big idea: should cars be banned from cities?” The concept can seem a little far fetched in the U.S., given how automobile-centric American transportation is. If you look around the world, however, to cities like Oslo, Madrid, and Barcelona, you’ll see that not only does a car-free downtown work, it can allow a city to thrive. Opening roads to pedestrians and cyclists improves safety, air pollution, noise pollution, window shopping, and dining. Not to mention, it can strengthen the connection among community members. There’s plenty of data to back this up, according to this piece from Bloomberg: “Where Covid’s Car-Free Streets Boosted Business.” Temporary car restrictions recently increased consumer activity as much as 61% in Boston's North End, according to an analysis from Yelp. It doesn’t stop there for Boston, as the Jamaica Plain neighborhood experimented with their own car free day last Saturday. Check out: “PHOTOS: Boston Celebrates Open Streets In Jamaica Plain.” In other parts of the country, New York City and San Francisco have both experimented with the concept, and you can read about it in “Car-free zones could be the future of cities.” So the next time you’re running or riding around town and dodging cars, remember there’s an alternative that’s worth sending your mayor an email. #RunTheRoads


Minute 2: Vegetables at breakfast boost nutrition & slow aging

When thinking about a farm’s contributions to breakfast, it’s been said that a chicken is involved, but a pig is fully committed. There is another option that modern day Charlottes should promote – adding vegetables to your breakfast routine. Not only will this spare Wilbur from his role, but it will also benefit humans with a healthy, albeit somewhat unconventional breakfast menu option. Eggs, oatmeal, and fruits are all excellent fuel choices, but this new story gives some additional options: “14 ways to eat more vegetables for breakfast.” Scrambled veggies is a twist on an old classic. Instead of adding greens to scrambled eggs, flip it around and add eggs to a dish primarily comprised of sauteed mushrooms and spinach. On a similar note, consider a breakfast burrito that’s packed with extra peppers, tomatoes, and grilled onions. If you’re in a hurry, a breakfast smoothie is a good way to get more veggies along with all of their vitamins and minerals. If you really want to save time while cranking up nutrition, throw in a scoop of a vegetable-based supplement like Athletic Greens. Their stuff contains biotin, Vitamin C and Vitamin E, which are included on this list of "Eight anti-aging vitamins and how to get them from your diet.” Also on the list is collagen, which is especially important to maintain youthful skin, since the body produces 1% less of it every year past age 20. That’s according to “The Byrdie Boy Guide to Anti-Aging Skincare,” which contains several other tips to improve skin health and appearance over time. #HealthyBreakfastClub


Minute 3: Running power tells a clearer story about your intensity

Outside of controlled environments like a running track, pace can be a surprisingly inconsistent metric to track your progress. Variations in surface inclines, weather and your own body weight will alter your speed, meaning you can expend lots of energy that is not ultimately reflected in your finish time. That’s why you should consider focusing on running power, a metric that can account for these fluctuations. Check out “Running Power – What it is and why it matters.” Already popular among cyclists, power is measured in Watts, and when you add this data to your pace, heart rate, and distance covered, you get a much clearer picture of how the run went. For another take on the subject, check out this story from TrainingPeaks: “Running with Power: How it Works and What it Means.” Part of the reason why tracking power is less popular among runners than cyclists is that it’s harder to capture. There are a lot more factors at play, but power measurement devices like Stryd are gaining acceptance. Reviewers seem to like Stryd best, relying on a small pod attached to your shoe, but the newest generation of watches from Polar also score well in both measuring Watts and VO2 max. Once your tracking equipment is in place, a good way to test it out is on a hill, where it’s easy to get into the highest levels of power output your body can muster. So follow these “5 Hill Running Workouts Guide” to make your session as safe and productive as it can be. #RunPowerUp


Minute 4: Why slumping over after a run isn’t so bad after all

Anyone who’s been yelled at by a coach or gym teacher for slumping over after a tough running drill deserves an apology. Leaning down with your hands on your knees may look like a position of defeat, but it’s our natural inclination for a reason – it’s actually a good stance to speed up the recovery process, according to new research: “Actually, Putting Your Hands on Your Knees Is the Best Recovery Position.” A study performed on college soccer players had 2 groups each run sprints and then assume a recovery position. Group 1 placed their hands above their head, and group 2 rested their hands on their knees. The results: Group 2’s heart rate dropped 20 bpm greater in the first minute, and their lungs operated more efficiently. One factor that’s likely at play is your diaphragm’s ability to move air in and out of your lungs, and it turns out, the inclined position of group 2 appears to be great for maximizing the diaphragmatic zone of apposition, aka ZOA. This, in turn lets your lungs take in more oxygen, replenishing your muscles faster and ultimately speed up recovery. Pair that with these breathing tips, and you’ll be set: “9 Tips for How to Breathe Better While Running.” #BetterBreathingBureau


Minute 5: Quick Intervals

  • Apparently, the only thing our loyal readers enjoy more than a good workout is a good bargain. Yesterday, we shared our list of Top 10 Deals for Runners on Amazon Prime Days and it was a surprise hit. In particular, you all loved the deals on Garmin watches, AirPods, Theraguns and even 23andMe genetic test kits. We always feel a little guilty about steering retail traffic away from local specialty run shops, but that’s what the other 363 days of the year are for. There are still several hours left in the big sale as it runs until midnight Pacific time tonight. If you are not yet a Prime member, this link will guide you to the sign-up page.

  • Let’s face it, nobody’s perfect, and that includes the wonderful writing and editing staff of this very publication. We appreciate it when our readers call us out on a poor suggestion, and we want to take a moment to acknowledge a misstep that was pointed out to us from last week’s issue. We cited an article on treadmill workout ideas, and among them was a routine that involved jumping on and off a moving treadmill at high speeds. That’s a major safety no-no, for obvious reasons, so we’re correcting the record and asking you to please disregard that section of the article. To make it up to you, we’ve got a better treadmill workout to consider: “Why the 12-3-30 Treadmill Workout is Taking Over Your Social Media Feed.”

  • There’s a common misconception that’s prevalent within the discussion of mental health, causing us to suppress our full emotional experience. Being mentally healthy doesn’t mean you’re happy all the time. Instead, experts recommend that you develop a productive relationship with your negative emotions, integrating them into your life rather than forcing them out. Negative feelings like envy, anger, or regret can be powerful signals to change our behavior, so take a look at “3 Myths About "Negative" Emotions & How They Can Benefit Your Health.”


Minute 6: Daily Inspiration

There’s a saying that goes: “Fall down 7 times, get up 8.” That’s invaluable advice for an athlete, and this week we’ve seen how that mentality proved successful for Claire Azzopardi as she performed hurdle jumps. Hurdle jumps aren’t just for sprinters and track athletes. Jumping into a few hurdle-based workouts can improve athleticism and efficiency for runners of all distances. Read “Hurdle Jump & Stick: Develop Your Jumping & Landing Skills” for a beginner’s guide. Of course, you’ll want to start with a lower bar, or even cones until you’ve got the technique down. With a little work, you’ll be jumping like Claire does in the Instagram clip below.