Garmin Rynning dynamics module
- Very small
- Run power statistics
- Can identify poor running form
- Easy to use
- Button battery – no charge
- Requires a smartwatch to operate
- Little information on what to do with form data execution
In this hands-on review, I test the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod. It’s a small device that collects and stores data to help you gauge your running form.
The pod-like gadget has been around for a few years now. The heap of metrics it spits out has always piqued my interest, but not enough to go into buying. It wasn’t until I recently upgraded to the Forerunner 955 that I decided to go with the $70 device.
This is because it allows the Forerunner to collect runtime power data. As a reminder, Garmin has added native integration for this with its latest watch release. But Run Power needs either the Running Dynamics Pod or one of the company’s chest straps to work.
Here’s everything you need to know about the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod.
Garmin Running Dynamics Pod review: Design and hardware
I was surprised when I took the Running Dynamics Pod out of the box. It’s very small, very small. Approximately the size of a British 50 cent coin as shown in the image below.
There isn’t much else in the box other than a small instruction booklet. That’s because you don’t need anything but a Garmin watch. The laptop does not charge, so there are no cables required. Instead, it runs on a single button cell battery. When the battery runs out, you can replace it with a new one. A replacement will cost you between $2 or $3. So not a big expense.
Going for replaceable batteries was a smart move by Garmin. Why worry about another cable? Assuming daily use for an hour, you can expect the battery to last for about a year. In fact, most people won’t use it much, so I guess they could probably get two years of use out of it before needing to replace the battery.
The module that houses the accelerometer is housed in a flexible silicone clip. Stretch it a bit and you can easily pull the pod out.
As for placement, you’re supposed to strap the device on your back – in the center of your waistband. The silicone tip extends to a flexible clip that you can attach to your undercarriage.
At first I was worried that the capsule would fall off. The first few runs, I found myself touching the pod from time to time to allay my fears. But it was unfounded. The clip is very strong and once in place it stays firmly in place. No risk of it falling.
That said, the small pod size is only 37.6mm x 23.2mm x 19.2mm and weighs 12 grams. So I could see myself eventually losing it, either leaving it in my pocket or misplacing it somewhere. But that’s not Garmin’s fault.
So far I’ve been very careful to leave it in a safe place after every run. Perhaps that’s why the company chose the flashy yellow silicone outline – it makes it stand out more.
Another neat thing about the Running Dynamics Pod is that it doesn’t have an on/off button. When you attach it to your belt, it automatically turns on because it detects movement. Leave it somewhere after the run and it can figure out that you are not using it anymore and it will automatically turn off. Another point towards simplicity – another plus.
As for water resistance, the rating of the gadget is only 1 ATM. Which means the occasional splash, rain or snow and even a shower are okay. But you can’t submerge it in water or swim with it. It would be kind of pointless anyway to do this sort of thing.
Summary of technical specifications
Pod to clip dimensions
37.6mm x 23.2mm x 19.2mm (LxWxD)
1 year (assuming 1 hour per day of use)
CR1632 (user replaceable)
Cadence, ground contact time, stride length, vertical oscillation, vertical ratio, ground contact time, running power (with compatible watch)
Garmin Running Dynamics Pod review: Functionality
To use the device for the first time, you will need to pair it with a compatible smartwatch. The Pod does not work with non-Garmin equipment, so this is something to be aware of.
Pairing is done the same way as with any other ANT+ accessory.
- Go to Settings on the compatible device, choose Sensors and accessories.
- Then choose the Add new options and Search AlI. The watch will automatically scan the surrounding area, so be sure to bring the pod closer and shake it to make sure it’s on.
- After a while, you will get the message that the pod is connected. In my case, it appears in the accessories list under RD Pod – xxxxxx (6 digit number). So you should get something similar.
That’s about it as far as configuration goes. This initial pairing only needs to be done once. From then on, as long as the Pod is on, it will automatically connect to your watch when in run mode.
Another thing you’ll want to do is add new data screens to your running profile. This is how you can see running dynamics information and power information on the watch itself in real time.
Without going into too much detail, the procedure is as follows:
- open up Settings on the watch and choose Activities and apps.
- Select To run.
- Select Run Parameters.
- Picking out Data screens.
- Then it’s just a matter of adding the Race form and or Power data fields and tweak that to your liking.
In my case, this brought the total number of individual data screens on my Forerunner 955 setup to five. I created a separate page for runtime dynamics metrics and one for runtime power. While exercising, I would sometimes scroll to one of them.
Checking running dynamics metrics on the watch lets you fine-tune your form or check running power while you’re on the move. However, post-execution data is more useful, allowing you to examine in detail:
- Ground contact time,
- stride length,
- vertical swing,
- vertical ratio,
- Ground contact time
- Power data (with a compatible watch)
All of this is available in both the Garmin Connect mobile app and the web-based dashboard. But the latter is perhaps more useful because it allows you to group the data into weekly, monthly, semi-annual and longer-term charts.
The same goes for the power data which I will not go into much detail in this review. You can read my full overview of this feature in a separate, more detailed post I did a few days ago.
In short, the feature works exactly the same as the Garmin Connect IQ run energy storage solution. But this is now natively integrated as long as your watch is compatible. At the time of writing, this includes the Forerunner 955 and 255. The feature is in beta for Fenix 7 and Epix 2 and we also expect the Forerunner 945 LTE and possibly a few other Garmin watches. obtain in the coming months. But if you don’t own one of these watches, you can still use the Pod to estimate running power, but via the Connect IQ store solution.
Of course, the other option is to use a Garmin chest strap, such as HRM-Run or HRM-Tri. You’ll get the same type of data, plus heart rate. But it’s less practical because it involves putting a strap around your chest every time you go for a run.
Below is a summary of the type of data you get in Garmin Connect after a run.
Some of these can be displayed in color-coded graphs and overlaid with many other data such as elevation, pace, heart rate and more. The different colors correspond to your proximity to the ideal beach.
Data can also be separated into laps and segments. So, for each lap or segment, you can get detailed measurements of running dynamics and running power.
Long-term charts showing how the data changes over time are shown below. These can be used to track trends.
What is the use of all these statistics?
The obvious question concerns the usefulness of these types of biomechanical measurements. In my opinion, it’s only now that the native Run Power functionality has been added that it makes sense to buy the Running Dynamics Pod. At least for me, that was the difference between buying and not buying the device.
This is because running dynamics metrics alone have limited use. Especially since Garmin does not provide any real insight into the data. So you are left on your own to draw conclusions and turn statistics into meaningful data.
One helpful thing you can do is click “Help” when viewing a particular running dynamics metric. This offers a brief explanation and shows the “ideal” ranges to aim for.
For example with cadence (or number of steps per minute), you want to aim for a high spm (steps per minute) figure. A commonly quoted goal is over 180 spm. This number is also used in combination with GPS data from your watch to calculate your stride length during a run.
Vertical swing, on the other hand, measures the vertical movement of the torso with each step while running. It is captured in centimeters. In this case, you generally want to aim for a lower number because a lower vertical oscillation is more economical and provides less stress on the body. Here are the target ranges.
Ground contact time is also important. You barely want to scrape the pavement to propel yourself forward, whereas bouncing off the ground and having your head higher is inefficient. This metric is also directly correlated to injuries since the more time you spend on the ground, the greater the impact on your body. Aim for a short time.
Then, we have, Ground contact time balance which measures the symmetry of your run by keeping track of the balance between the ground contact time of your left and right foot. The metric is displayed as a percentage above 50% with a left or right arrow to indicate which foot is on the ground the longest. Needless to say, you want to aim for perfect symmetry – so as close to 50/50 as possible. Deviating too much from this can lead to poor running form or may be a sign of injury.
I found the data interesting to browse after the first few runs. Although it was hard to draw conclusions as the information differed from race to race depending on how fast I was going. But in general, I found my running balance and ground contact time to be pretty decent. And that I need to work on reducing my vertical oscillation to improve my running economy.
My running cadence is also good. The advantage of using the running pod instead of the watch on your wrist for this type of data is that the pod will be more accurate.
I see myself using the charts from time to time to check for consistency and changes. For example, if I don’t have balance, I can do extra stretches to relax the muscles.
But it would be more helpful if Garmin could do the analysis for you and spit out some helpful suggestions and insights. Anything other than a nice, relaxed posture, a good forward lean and a decent cadence – has room for improvement.
Used correctly, this type of data also has the potential to show potential pain or the early onset of injury. For example, if you suddenly start to favor one leg over the other. So look for trends and changes for better or for worse. For those recovering from an injury, this can offer a way to gradually calm down.
Data enthusiasts will feel right at home! And let’s face it, a lot of this data is just plain cool to look at!
The small, but quite capable, Running Dynamics Pod from Garmin is an interesting little device. Clip it to the back of your belt and it will track a range of running dynamics metrics, including power data if you have a compatible watch.
The data is interesting to read, even if it suffers from a lack of information. So you’re on your own to draw conclusions and see how close you are to the recommended ranges. Study your running cadence, vertical ratio, ground contact time balance and more to find out how you deviate from ideal running form. This type of information can also be useful as an indicator of an early onset of injury.
Garmin running dynamics module
The device does what it says on the tin and its ANT+ connectivity is good. I really like the ease of use and the fact that there is no charge. Once the battery runs out in a year or two, spend $2-3 to buy a replacement battery.
However, what made me spend $70 was the fact that I recently purchased the Forerunner 955. The native running power data is now easy to use, as long as you have the Running Dynamics Pod . Of course, you could opt for a Garmin chest strap for the same kind of data, but for me, it’s much easier and less cumbersome to clip something onto my running shorts. I do not regret the purchase.
Overall, I think most users will prefer the Pod over the strap. The Pod is simple, discreet and comfortable. More importantly, the additional data it provides has the potential to help you improve running mechanics, efficiency, and avoid injury.