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Coros POD review: Advanced running metrics, including power analysis

Last updated on 23/09/2020

Six new sports watches for the casual athlete to the ultrarunner
Wearables today have advanced sensors to help you track your activity 24/7. Matt Miller says that while the Apple Watch is a great smartwatch, there are many other wearables focused on helping you collect data and use it to improve your health and fitness. Read more: https://zd.net/2lobqlP

While I’m not built for speed over long distances, I love to get outside and run in order to maintain my health and get a break from the stress of a busy life. The Coros Vertix GPS adventure watch is one of my favorite wearable purchases and for the past couple of months I have been testing the new Coros POD (Performance Optimization Device). It’s available now for $69.99 or $49.99 with the purchase of a watch.

The Coros POD is a small device that clips onto the back of your waistband and then connects to your Coros GPS watch or smartphone via Bluetooth/ANT+. It weighs in at just 19 grams, is waterproof to 1 ATM (10m/32 feet), and is powered by a CR2032 battery that should last a year with two hours of use per day.

Also: Coros Vertix GPS adventure watch review: Long battery life, high end specs, and spinning digital knob

I was very interested in testing out the Coros POD primarily to try out and compare the power metric. Lately I’ve been running with the Vantage V and Stryd running power meter in order to measure and train with power. Since I live on a hill and run hills every time I go outside to run, I like using power rather than heart rate to train.

Coros POD retail package and setup

The Coros POD comes in a small box with the pod, silicone clip case, and CR2032 battery. Remove the POD from the silicone clip case, open up the back, and insert the battery as shown in the package. When you reinsert the POD into the silicone clip case you need to make sure that the C in Coros is at the top where the waistband clip closed end is located. This ensure the proper orientation of the POD for correct measurements.

You can use Bluetooth to pair the Coros POD directly with your smartphone through the Coros app and run with your phone and the POD to measure all of your running metrics. You don’t actually need a Coros GPS watch to use the POD if you like to run with your phone instead.

I prefer to run with a GPS watch so used ANT+ to pair my Coros VERTIX with the POD. You simply go into System > Accessories on the watch and choose to Add ANT+ device.

The Coros POD goes into sleep mode when not in active use. You can shake it to wake it up or just clip onto the center of your back waistband and start running to activate it automatically. As long as you made the connection to your phone or watch it should start recording as soon as you start running.

Coros POD metrics

The Coros POD will provide the following advanced metrics:

  • Running power: The rate of effort measured in running. Polar, Garmin, Stryd, and others now measure running power and there is no standard across systems. However, within a system you can monitor progress and match power to heart rate zones. The Coros POD is one of the most informative devices as it provides horizontal power, vertical (form) power, and lateral power. Horizontal power is the most critical one as it measures your forward movement. Elite runners may have 80% horizontal power with 70% for advanced runners. I’m in the low 60s so there is room for improvement. You want lateral power, movement from left to right, to be as low as possible for the best running efficiency.
  • Run efficiency: This is the ratio of speed to power-to-weight and will increase as you pick up speed. When muscles tire then efficiency will decline. The Coros POD presents the data in graphical form.
  • Cadence: The number of steps a runner takes per minute. Cadence is an interesting metric as there are strategies to improve your performance by altering your cadence.
  • L/R balance: The percentage of ground time spent on each foot. I’m just 0.4% from perfectly balanced, which shows great balance.
  • Stride height: The amount your body bounces vertically with each step, measured with less than 5 cm being excellent.
  • Stride ratio: A good measure of efficiency as it measures stride height to stride length and you want to reduce the amount of vertical motion as you propel yourself forward.
  • Stride length: The distance from heel to heel when you take two steps. Many runners overstride thinking it will increase speed, but it may actually increase the risk of injury so an accurate measure can be important to safe running.
  • Ground time: Measures the amount of time that each of your feet are in contact with the ground. Advanced runners have shorter ground time with elite runners as short as 180ms. My ground time is about 320ms over the past couple months.

Cadence, average cadence, stride length, average stride length, lap stride length, ground time, L/R balance, stride height, stride ratio, run efficiency, and running power can all be selected as fields to show on your Coros GPS watch while you run. Monitoring these while running is key to improving your efficiency and running performance.

Cadence and stride length are available for Coros GPS smartwatches without the Coros POD, but the other metrics that help you understand and improve in these areas are only provided when you connect a POD.

Running with the Coros Pod

The Coros POD clips onto your waistband at the center of your back and is so light you won’t even notice it is there. Unfortunately, I threw my running shorts in the washer twice with the Coros POD still attached and it went through a complete wash cycle once and a half cycle the other time. The dark color doesn’t stand out, but I see there is now a reminder that pops up on the watch after you end your run so you are warned to remove it before washing your clothes. The good thing is the 1 ATM water resistance means it still works perfectly.

After initial setup with my Coros VERTIX, it connects and records the data without any effort on my part. I have setup a few metrics to show on the VERTIX as I run, but am still experimenting with the best ones as I work to improve my running efficiency.

Also: COROS GPS sports watch update makes them track stars, new POD tracks run power and dynamics

While I love all of the metrics that are captured and the definitions are helpful, it would be great to have some kind of coaching software to help runners modify different aspects to improve on their efficiency. I’ve performed searches with the data in hand to try to figure out how to improve in various metrics and am getting a bit better.

It is also great to view the metrics in the Coros app on your phone after runs, but I have it set to sync to Strava and only some of the data is transferred there for further tracking and analysis. Coros also supports TrainingPeaks, RQ, WeRun, Final Surge, and Relive so I will have to explore these other apps to try to find out if all of this great Coros POD data is usable in one of these services.

The Coros App lets you view different runs, but there is no support for running historical reports to track trends for these various metrics. The app does support viewing week, month, and year reports for many other metrics, but not these running details captured by the POD. Then again, the POD is new and Coros has a great track record for updates and improvements in its watches so it’s possible we will see more in the future.

The Coros POD is a great accessory for runners looking to improve their efficiency and performance. It offers some wonderful educational data for each of us and at $70 is definitely worth considering. I’m now trying to find half marathon training plans that support running power as the metric for training and will then want to see alerts and other ways to keep me in certain zones while training.