Power has been all the rage in running ever since Stryd came out with its power sensor for that sport. Now, Coros is joining in that fray with its POD – which they have used as a nice acronym: Performance Optimization Device.
Usual disclaimer/full disclosure: I was sent this device to try it out. I.e., I didn’t have to pay for it. Neither do I get anything for a review, nor does COROS have much of any say in what I publish (except if I learn things which aren’t for public consumption, but that’s a different issue).
Looks and Fit
The Coros POD by itself is 35.8 mm x 25.8 mm with a thickness of 8.9 mm. That’s the same length and width as my thumb’s outermost part and half the thickness.
With the case/clip it goes into, it’s a bit larger and especially thicker, but that’s just the clip used to attach it to one’s waistband.
Fit (Attachment) Issues?
One word of caution: The POD should be attached in the middle of one’s body, right above the spine. In terms of comfort, I have not found that to be any issue.
Several of the running tights I use the most have a major seam right there, though, so that it’s not easy or advisable to clip the POD on them right there – but clipped off to the side, there’s a better chance that the data provided would be of lower quality.
Above a Phone Pocket
The Ultimate Direction Hydroshorts I have mainly run in last summer have the top part of their mesh smartphone pocket going into the waistband. I was afraid that this would mean that the Coros POD would either not attach there safely or make that pocket less usable. Neither of those fears have materialized, though; it all worked out fine.
On a Seam
The CW-X tights have a seam right there which is rather thick. Again, though, it actually worked to have the POD clipped over it and/or it didn’t matter if it was off to the side by a centimeter.
Frankly, I don’t even know if the POD was off to the side or the tights switched slightly to the side (and the POD centered, then). It all looks okay, anyways.
Right Way Round
Don’t forget that the POD – talking of data quality – goes into the case/clip with the C of the Coros name on it pointing downwards. (Okay, I don’t actually know if this really matters, but since they say so, I assume it’s better that way.)
Pairing the Coros POD
The Coros POD is made to be used with Coros watches and thus should be paired with one of those… but also with the smartphone you use, via the Coros app.
Pairing with a Coros Watch
To pair, you just take the POD with the battery inserted (it comes with the battery separate since it activates with movement), go into “System” – “Accessories” on your Coros Watch, select “Add ANT+” and it should be offered as a device to pair.
To check that, you can go into “Added Devices” to see that it is there.
Pairing with the Coros App
The POD should also be paired with your COROS app (via the usual “Add New Device” link/button on the “Device” screen of the app).
The connection with the app is necessary and useful for POD firmware updates. These should most certainly be done.
(If you notice somewhere that I’ve had the POD for a while but haven’t shared data, it’s because there was a lot of work on the algorithms/firmware for it happening.)
App vs. Watch for Recording Data
It would be possible to use the app for recording power and dynamics during a run. That would be possible, if you want to run with your phone instead of your watch.
There is a “Start” button for that among the icons showing what can be done with the POD (in the app); the other’s are “Update Firmware” and a link to the “User Manual”.
This connection is rather likely to cause some issues, though. If the POD gets connected to the phone/app, it becomes unavailable to the watch.
Best case, then, would be that you record the run’s main data on the watch, but without power and dynamics data. And power and dynamics data (and perhaps time and distance using the phone GPS, which is notoriously bad) in the app, without HR… ending up with two recordings that are both not complete.
Coros POD Waterproofing
I inadvertently ended up testing the waterproofing of the Coros POD by throwing it in the washing machine…
When you are done with a run, the connected Coros watch will tell you to remember to take off the POD and put it into sleep mode.
I was ending runs downstairs from my apartment, though. So, I forgot, put my running gear into the machine, and had left the pod on there.
When I took my running shorts out of the washing machine… the Coros POD wasn’t even wet anymore. And it worked like nothing untoward had ever happened.
It’s still not recommendable to put it in the washing machine, and a wipe or some water from the faucet should be quite enough to clean it off. If it ever even gets dirty or sweaty enough to warrant a cleaning.
Starting a Run, Seeing that the POD is Connected
When starting a running activity, the POD is automatically found (as long as it is active, which it will be as long as you are moving it – i.e., have it on your waistband).
Before you start that activity, you can see that the POD is connected by way of the new “running man” icon (my phrase, not Coros’, I think) at the bottom of the screen, below the icons showing when HR and GPS are found and what the battery level is).
Performance Data from a Coros POD
The Coros POD looks very much like a Garmin Running Dynamics Pod (and for a while, people reported having been able to connect and get data from the Garmin Pod on their Coros watch, but that “option” was removed in later firmwares… or might be back, according to some reports I’ve seen).
Where the Garmin Pod only gives running dynamics analytics – as its name implies – the Coros POD works both as that and as a power meter – and a nifty one, at that.
The Coros POD gives:
- Stride height
- Stride length
- Stride ratio
- L/R balance
- Ground Time
- Run Efficiency
- Running Power
The Running Power analysis from the Coros POD is particularly interesting as it differentiates between horizontal, vertical, and lateral power.
There are three ways to access (nearly) all that data from the Coros POD:
Power/Dynamics on the Watch
Custom data fields can be set up on Coros watches to see the data right there, while out running. In fact, such data displays are active now in the standard running mode…
Most of the running dynamics-type kinds of data are meaningful only in the aggregate, thus not necessarily sensible in real time. That is a discussion for another time (post), though.
I do want to point out explicitly that seeing power in real time makes the Coros POD a competitor with the Stryd, not just running dynamics/analytics devices.
Power/Dynamics Data in the Logbook (AI Trainer)
The watches also store and display that data as part of the summaries shown in the “AI Trainer” logbook.
Of course, the Coros app also stores all that data and displays it – and it’s the most sensible to look at it here for analysis.
Coros POD Data in the Coros App
Some of the data collected by the Coros POD is front-and-center, some of it a bit hidden, in the workout data in the app.
- Running efficiency graph and (time in) the three efficiency zones which Coros uses is quite prominent, right underneath the cadence which has always been there.
- Next, the graph of total power over time is shown (with max. and avg. values given).
- Below that follows the running power analysis, separating out vertical power, lateral power, and horizontal power.
This gives an indication not only of how much power one produces in total, but also of what percentage of that is actually used for forward propulsion, and how much is used (read: wasted) in up-and-down or left-right motion of one’s body.
The other running dynamcis data hides behind the “Expand to View More Data” line, which opens the display of:
- Ground Time (i.e., ground contact time) graph and average value
- L/R Balance graph and percentages
- Stride Ratio graph and average
- Stride Height graph and average
- Stride Length graph and average
This all gives information about one’s running dynamics; there are information symbols at all the headers that lead to further information on how the data is calculated and what it all means.
A detailed look at example running data in comparison (with data from COROS POD, Stryd, and Polar Vantage V) can be found here.