Disclaimer: I received a Zwift Run Pod to review as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to review, find, and write race reviews!
Transformative and genius are two words that come to mind in describing Zwift’s platform and Run Pod technology.
Let’s go over a few basics before I dive in to my own experience.
WHAT: The Zwift platform packs a plethora of visual routes (jungle, volcano, snowy mountains anyone?!) and is chock full of structured workouts, training plans, and group runs galore. Zwift enables users to interact, train, and compete virtually.
WHO: Any runner or cyclist! I’ll speak to runners in this post, since I tested the Run Pod.
WHERE: Use the Zwift platform and Run Pod on your home or gym treadmill. To make sure you have a supported treadmill, read on. To make sure you have a supported device to run the Zwift platform (whether that be a PC or Mac, iPhone, iPad, or Apple TV), read this.
WHEN: Anytime! I personally tend to run later at night post-10 p.m. EST.
HOW: There are some technical logistics that may sound intimidating at first, but fret not! The Zwift Run Pod is wicked easy to set up, and the app is very intuitive.
Step 1: You’ll want to create an account on https://zwift.com/ where you can input your user settings, picture, and so on just like any other online account.
Step 2: Download the Zwift app on your mobile device and/or tablet. I downloaded the Zwift app on my iPhone as well as our older iPad, since it has a larger screen. I ended up using the app on my iPhone because it drained the iPad’s battery very quickly.
There is a second app called Zwift Companion. According to Zwift’s site, “When used alongside Zwift, the Companion app gives you a map view and the ability to chat, make U-turns, and interact with others. It’s also an event calendar for what’s on deck, making it a useful on-the-go tool to plan your next race, ride, or run.”
Step 3: Attach the Run Pod to your shoe. Below is a very helpful image that I referred to on Zwift’s site when I attached the pod to my Brooks Ghost 11s. Before you attach the pod to your shoe, make sure to twist off the lace clip first so that you have two pod pieces as shown in the image below. Then you can open the back of the pod and use a coin to open up where the battery inserts. Here are detailed directions!
These directions also explain how to pair the pod to the Zwift platform. (Trust me, it does most everything automatically!)
Step 4: Calibrate your Run Pod if you’d like. Here are directions.
Step 5: Set up your runner avatar! You can choose to update your clothing, socks, hair, and so on. It’s not super robust, but it was neat to play around with. Below is what my avatar looks like.
Step 6: Select either a structured workout from your training plan or choose to run without a plan. I ran five times total using the platform and pod, and I chose to mostly follow the designated Zwift 101: Running training plan. This consisted of the following:
• ZWIFT 101: RUNNING – Welcome to Running In Zwift! (2 miles)
• One 1.6-mile run not designated in the training plan
• ZWIFT 101: RUNNING – What Is My Body Doing? Tempo! (3 miles)
• ZWIFT 101: RUNNING – Your Best Mile! (3 miles)
• ZWIFT 101: RUNNING – Optional: Optional Miles (2 miles)
During my first run (Welcome to Running in Zwift!), my initial thoughts included the following: Running around London (on a track); hitting into the course side; avatar looks like she’s running in place; reading hilarious comments from other runners/riders—very entertaining 2-miler.
My avatar definitely clipped objects and other cyclists/runners, and at one point I thought it was going to run off the track! You can see other users’ comments off to the right side of the screen, and one user commented that his bike chain fell off, while another said he rode in the wrong direction/off-course for a bit. I’m not sure how that works as a cyclist, but it made me chuckle! I also have no idea how I would be able to type comments to other users while running. I’m just not that coordinated or talented. I didn’t even attempt it, because I was afraid my avatar would stop running.
I did notice that my avatar stopped running and started stretching every so often without rhyme or reason. I was clearly still running, but she thought she needed a break I suppose. When that happened, I’d pause my Garmin watch, turn off the treadmill, and then restart the treadmill and watch in the hopes that it would jump start my avatar. That mostly worked, but I don’t claim to deem that the technical way to get her moving again!
MAIN TAKE-AWAYS: Despite a bit of technical difficulty, the scenery and running prompts were the absolute best part of my Zwift experience.
I was able to experience mountains, bridges, tracks, New York’s Central Park at sunset (stunning!), and I even spied a volcano in the distance during one virtual run, along with a Zwift blimp during another.
Throughout each run, you are prompted to set specific speeds on your treadmill. You also see motivational prompts and explanations as to why you are running at certain speeds.
I really enjoyed the reminders about running form too, such as, “Keep your shoulders down and back. Don’t let them touch your ears.” Another prompt talked about positioning your hands as if you were holding crackers.
You’re even prompted to add a workout target, such as a total time for your workout.
I mentioned that the platform and app are transformative, because personally as a runner, I typically plod along at a comfortable pace. I don’t usually do tempo runs or intervals, but with the Zwift 101 training plan, I did just that. I ended up running several very fast-for-me treadmill miles, which I’m extremely proud of! If you need some extra motivation to jump on the treadmill this winter, I highly recommend grabbing a Zwift Run Pod, downloading the app, and seeing where it takes you!