What is operating power and how to measure it

In this article you will learn what the operating power depends on and how to measure it correctly.

What is working power

Cyclists have long used power meters that measure pedal pressure. In running, it is a calculated value, based on the weight of the athlete, the speed and the inclination of the surface on which you are running. Power characterizes the intensity of running, that is, the physical effort we put in to move our body through space.

If you take the same speed and set different angles, there will be more power going uphill. Although this does not mean that on descents the power will be less than on a flat surface. That is, the power when running on hilly terrain is different for an athlete at the same speed.

In addition, there are external factors, such as the wind. By trying to maintain the same speed while running into the wind, the athlete will exert more effort and the running power will become higher.

Modern sensors are already able to take into account external factors such as wind. But what the sensors haven’t yet learned to deal with in terms of calculating power is running on uneven surfaces. When running on sand, loose ground or snow, you have to exert more effort to maintain speed, and obviously the power at the same speed increases.

What are the benefits of knowing running power?

We usually control the intensity of our running through pace, speed, and heart rate. At the same time, the pulse is a rather inert value: with a sharp change in intensity (acceleration or uphill run), at least 10 seconds pass until the pulse responds to the actual increase speed. At the same time, in interval training, the interval itself can be 10 seconds.

Therefore, heart rate monitoring is not always well suited for assessing load in interval training and mountain running, as there is a time lag.

To read on the subject: Heart rate zones: at what heart rate to run

source: trainingpeaks.com

Power is an instant indicator, and it will more accurately and quickly reflect the actual load. Power meters are also said to be more accurate at displaying speed and pace even when there is no GPS signal, for example, on a treadmill in the gym, the Stryd power meter is more accurate than your show.

Everyone knows you can get tested with a gas analyzer to get your heart rate and pace zones. Power zones can be added to the same zones if testing with a power meter on the shoe.

What determines running power?

  • athlete’s weight;
    • relief;
    • wind resistance and speed;
    • running surface: snow, sand, mud.

How to measure running power

The running power is not measured, but calculated by a formula in the program. Inside the power meter, there are separate elements that collect acceleration data in three-dimensional space. Also in the calculation of power, neural networks have come to the rescue, adapted to the mathematical processing of the running stage.

Operating power sensor. Source: sporttracks.mobi

The sensor is attached to the laces. One sensor is enough, while it can even read asymmetries in the flight phase of the right leg, left leg, repulsion time, damping time. This data can also be useful in training from the perspective of analyzing your running technique based on stance and flight time characteristics.

What should be the operating power

The weight of the athlete strongly affects, so it is difficult to determine exact figures. For example, an average amateur weighing more than 100 kg jogging at 8 km/h will display a power comparable to that of Rinas Akhmadeev at a speed of 14 km/h, or about 250 watts.

Running power data. Source: sporttracks.mobi

Therefore, it is very important to monitor the weight and correct it in time in the work program with the power meter. Otherwise, the indicators will be distorted.

Which is better: heart rate training or power training?

Power training will definitely be better for mountain running and intervals. But at the same time, with long workouts of more than 30 minutes, one should in no case refuse to monitor one’s heart rate. This is a physiological value that reflects the current reaction/adaptation to the load.

Of course, many external factors also affect the pulse: air humidity, temperature, hypoxia (height above sea level), atmospheric pressure, a cup of coffee, but the pulse value always says more on the body’s overall reaction to the current workout. .

By relying solely on power, you may underestimate the risk of possible functional overstrain during training. Therefore, you should only use power load control as one of the parameters of your training.

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Pavel Korneev, laboratory specialist at the Innovation Center of the Russian Olympic Committee