Critical Power Definition

What is CP? What is Critical Power?

Updated this week

The definition of Critical Power

Critical Power is the threshold at which the dominant type of fatigue your body experiences changes. This number is used to determine your optimal training intensities (Power Zones) which trigger specific fitness gains and guide your race day effort.


How do I use Critical Power?

Your Critical Power is an estimate of your maximum metabolic effort for about 40 minutes. Critical Power by itself can seem advanced, but when you use your Critical Power to help you estimate different training efforts, it becomes your most valuable training tool!

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Notice the above graph. This is a representation of the three main metabolic training targets. With an accurate Critical Power, you will be able to hone in on improving these areas of fitness.

The Stryd team has broken this metabolic graph into 5 training Power Zones. Each Power Zone has a percent Critical Power associated with it. Using these Power Zones to train will help you improve aspects of your metabolic capacity.

Above are the 5 Power Zones that an accurate Critical Power will provide. If you have more questions about the Power Zones, please see this article: Power Zones explained

Every run will be executed at a different % of your Critical Power. As you push yourself, Stryd will see your improvements and adjust your Critical Power and corresponding Power Zones accordingly. This makes for effortless training adjustments that can account for fitness improvements or fitness losses.

How do I get my Critical Power?

Whether you are new to Stryd or an existing user, it's never too late to get an accurate Critical Power!

Before you start testing or following any specific Stryd plan, please double-check that the weight and height settings are correct on your pod.

Method 1: Establish a new Critical Power using the Getting Started or Return to Running flow

(Highly Accurate, Easy)

This method is the best for people who are new to Stryd and have recently created an account. Or have a gap in their Stryd data on their account. Typically, gaps in data occur after taking time away from training.

Once the Stryd system recognizes that you are new or have taken time off, it will prompt you to "Getting Started with Stryd" or "Get Back to Running".

Both of these flows will give you the option to complete three easy runs or a week of testing to determine your Critical Power.

Please note that the only difference between the Getting Started flow and the Get Back to Running flow is when it is served to the user. The Getting Started flow is served to new users on the Stryd app and the Get Back to Running flow is served to users who have taken some time away from running with the Stryd app.

For more information about the Getting Started flow and the Get Back to Running flow, you can see this support article: Getting Started

Method 2: Reset your Critical Power and establish a new Critical Power on your own

(Accurate, More difficult)

Users can reset their Critical Power value back to zero and start fresh with Stryd's Critical Power calculation help.

You will be given the option to perform some testing sets or let your Critical Power generate organically with regular training.

Instructions:

  1. Open Setting in the Stryd app

  2. Select Critical Power

  3. Select “Reset my Critical Power”

  4. Agree to have your Critical Power rest
    Please note that once you agree, your Critical Power values will be set to zero

  5. Then you will need to choose between letting Stryd help you and going it alone

If you choose “Help me get a new Critical Power” you will be taken through the same tests and easy runs as the Getting Started flow.

If you choose the “Get my own Critical Power” you will need to determine your own testing workouts to achieve an accurate Critical Power. There are many great Critical Power tests available in the Stryd Workout Folder labeled Critical Power Tests.

The three workouts in the Testing Workout Sets Folder will help you get a new Critical Power. These workouts are difficult and should be spaced a few days apart.

One workout from the Critical Power Test Folder should be enough to help you get a new Critical Power. These workouts are very challenging and will require a few easy runs before and after.

Method 3: Establish a new Critical Power using manual Critical Power

(Less Accurate, Easy)

Users can manually enter a Critical Power value instead of relying on the Stryd system to make these calculations. User error can sometimes make this method less accurate than method 1 or method 2.

NOTE: Manually entering your Critical Power should be done cautiously. Threshold values from other running or biking power meters will not accurately reflect your ability when running with Stryd. (Power values from wrist-based power provided by your watch will not be accurate.)

To enter a Manually Calculated Critical Power you will need to have completed a 5k best effort, 10k best effort, 6-3 laps test, 9-3 minutes test, or know what your Manual entry should be. Please note that if you use a race or test to estimate your Critical Power, the race or test should be completed within the last 30 days to be considered an accurate data point.

Instructions:

  1. Open Setting in the Stryd app

  2. Select Critical Power

  3. Turn off Auto Calculate

  4. Select “Recalculate”

  5. Choose from the list of options and be sure to set the correct Elevation, Temperature, and Humidity values

How do I make sure my Critical Power is accurate?

The more variety you have in your running, the more accurate your Critical Power will be. Also, the more robust your metabolic capacity will be. We recommend the following:

  1. Long duration runs of 40-60 minutes at max effort or near max effort (time trial or 10k race) for those that are training for a half or full marathon distance.

  2. Medium duration runs of 10-20 minutes at max effort or near max effort (time trial or 5k race)

  3. A short max effort run that is 3-5 minutes in duration.

  4. Short distance sprints or strides at max effort (10-30 seconds in duration).

Each of these maximum-effort training runs will help the system better understand your current fitness and metabolic capacity.

Stryd will use approximately 90 days' worth of runs to determine your Critical Power. The runs that contribute to your Critical Power can be viewed in the Power Duration Curve.

Note: Make sure to add the above variety before using the defined Stryd Power Zones as a guide.

Advanced users manually calculating their Critical Power can do Critical Power tests every two to three months and then enter the results in the app.

Example:

Your Critical Power is 245 Watts.

Your Zone 1 shows as 159 - 196 W.

You should execute your easy run between 159 - 196 W.

The range represents and upper and lower boundaries of the zone. You should find an effort that feels easy and the number that works for you.

Other Power Zones associated with this Critical Power can be found in the screenshot below. Please note that these Power Zones will only be for this individual with a Critical Power of 245 Watts.

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How does your Critical Power compare to other runners?

To compare runners, we can normalize critical power by dividing CP by weight. If CP is 200 watts and weight is 50 kg, normalized CP is 4 Watts/kg. Achievable CP depends on several factors, including age. Below is a table* for comparison for people in their prime (about 30 years):

Classification

CP in W/kg (men)

CP in W/kg (women)

World top

6.4

5.7

Internationally competitive

5.8

5.1

Nationally competitive

5.1

4.6

Regionally competitive

4.5

4.0

Fitness runner

3.8

3.4

Fair

3.2

2.8

Untrained

2.6

2.3

* From the Secret of Running by Hans van Dijk and Ron van Megen, page 121

I had a great run, and improved my Power Duration Curve but my Critical Power went down... why?

Your Critical Power is determined by three major energy sources while running: immediate energy, oxidative energy and nonoxidative energy A change to one of these areas can tell the model that another is overestimated, and your Critical Power will correct itself, becoming more accurate. Continuing to do best efforts at varying durations (as described above) will push your entire curve up, and result in an improved critical power.

Turn on Critical Power Notifications on Your Phone

When your Critical Power changes, you can get a notification on your phone. This must be enabled in your notifications within the Stryd app on your phone:

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The notifications work only when the automatically calculated Critical Power goes up after a hard run that forces a readjustment of your CP.

You will not get notified if:

  1. You did not enable notification within the Stryd app on your phone

  2. CP went up by one or two watts only

  3. CP went up because an old run is no longer considered (as opposed to doing a run that forced the CP increase).

Why Can I Not Set a Manual Critical Power (CP)?

To set a manual Critical Power, you need to have a Stryd pod that has been connected to your account and that you have disabled Auto-Calculated Critical Power.

Once you've successfully paired a Stryd pod to your Stryd account, then you will be able to set a Manual CP by going to Settings->Critical Power->Selecting Recalculate

If you receive a server error when trying to re-enable Auto-Calculated Critical Power it's because you do not have a Stryd pod that has been connected to your account and will be unable to re-enable until you've paired your Stryd pod to that account.

I just performed a manual CP test. How do I use these results to manually calculate my CP?

If you recently performed a CP test and would like to use this data to manually calculate your CP in the Stryd ecosystem, please follow these steps:

  1. Open up the Stryd Mobile App

  2. Head to Settings

  3. Choose Critical Power

  4. If you are using the auto-calculated CP feature, disable this on the screen

  5. Now choose "Recalculate"

  6. Choose from the list the test you performed to generate your CP

  7. If you used another method and would like to manually enter your Critical Power, choose "Manually Enter Critical Power"

  8. Set the CP in the Stryd App

  9. Hit save

Now the Stryd ecosystem will use this as your CP and calculate your power zones accordingly.

If you feel like the results of this test do not fully represent your current fitness. You may want to read this article written by coach Steve Palladino: A method to roughly estimate FTP/CP for runners not ready to properly test

Why is my Manual Critical Power lower after my latest test, even though I ran at a higher power?

The least impactful way to measure critical power is to do the 6/3 lap test or 9/3-minute test on the road. Stryd uses the power and pace for each segment to estimate critical power.

Since we extrapolate CP from the 2 test segments, the power ratio between the short and long segments of the test is important. It is possible to repeat the critical power test and run at higher power in each segment, yet get a lower critical power number. If that happens, the power ratio likely change.

Possible causes:

1. In the first test, the short section was not an all-out effort, causing CP to be overestimated.

2. In the second test, the long section was not an all-out effort, causing CP to be underestimated.

3. Your training was focused more on short distances, improving your speed but not your endurance.

You can always repeat the critical power test, and with each test, you will get more proficient and closer to the best possible CP estimation. If you have done a 10k race at full effort, it is the best way to estimate CP, but it has a high impact.

More information...

Steve Palladino, a power-based coach has a great article on how Stryd auto-calculates a Critical Power based on your running activity. If you want more insight into how your runs affect your Critical Power, read his article here.

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