Let me start with this statement: I. HATE. TREADMILL. RUNNING.
The treadmill has never been something I have found to be particularly enjoyable. Honestly, treadmills bore me beyond imagination. I am one of those “weirdos” who would much rather be outside in any variety of conditions (rain, snow, wind, etc) than to be confined to staring at a boring screen let alone be in a line of others doing the same thing. With that in mind, I was not convinced at all that I would get anything beneficial or enjoyable when the opportunity came to combine a treadmill with an app called Zwift.
What is Zwift / Zwift Run?
Zwift is primarily an online platform used by cyclists for indoor training. Cyclists can pair their controllable trainer as well as their bike with the Zwift app to ride on any number of courses in realtime with other cyclists from around the world. One can ride on their own in a free mode, tackle a structured workout/workout program, or even jump in on a group ride. Upon initial account setup, a cyclist gets a 7 day free trial and then must signup for a subscription, which starts at $14.99/month.
Apply that ideology to running and you have Zwift Run. All a runner needs is a treadmill, a footpod (some work better than others), and a device – such as a laptop/tablet/or phone – to run Zwift. Alternatively, a runner could also use a Bluetooth-enabled treadmill. Ultimately, this allows runners to run more than 100k across a variety of routes, including virtual courses inspired by central London, Richmond, VA, and New York City. Similar to our cycling counterparts, runners can run in a free mode, tackle a specific workout or workout program, or join a scheduled group run – all in realtime with runners from across the world. And of course, cyclists and runners alike can pair their Zwift account with other third-party apps, such as Strava, to keep track of distance and other stats. Oh, did I mention that Zwift Run is FREE?
My Zwift Experience
Full disclosure: I do not own a treadmill. In order to participate in this experience, I had to take a step WAY outside of my comfort zone and utilize the resources of a local fitness club – I’ll cover the pros and cons of THAT side-experience in a separate post. Spoiler alert though – the reason(s) I don’t have a gym membership were kind of confirmed as a result of this experience. More on that later…
First things first, I received my Zwift RunPod with plenty of time before the BibRave Virtual 5k. It was SUPER easy to set up. After I downloaded the Zwift app and got my account set up, I opened up the box, removed the protector plastic from the battery, and popped the pod on my shoe. At that point, I was ready to get on the treadmill and get going.
When I made it to the gym and hopped on the treadmill for the first time, I was a little apprehensive about it. I was going to have my phone (or my tablet) on the treadmill with what looks like a video game on the screen. Thankfully, the app itself is very easy to use and makes your forget (for a little bit, at least) that you’re actually at the gym. The Zwift Companion app also makes it very easy to engage with the other runners (& cyclists) that are on at the same time!
The BibRave Virtual 5k
On November 29, all of the BibRave Pros participating in this Zwift opt-in were invited to jump in on a scheduled group run called the BibRave 5k. Using the Zwift Companion app, we were not only able to RSVP for the run, but could also select our desired pace group. This run got so much attention via the Zwift Companion app, a runner from the United Kingdom who records his Zwift runs on his YouTube channel joined in – despite the start time being at 11:45pm in the UK!
This run was a great way to bring so many members of our BibRave community “together” without actually being in the same physical location. BibRave and Zwift teamed up at The Running Event (an annual running industry event) in Texas to get four of our Pros on the treadmills with the rest of us across the country. Personally, I was pretty much stride-for-stride with fellow BRP Matt M. (who is also a fellow Ohioan) for the majority of our run, pushing each other quite a bit throughout – even if it wasn’t exactly intentional.
With this experience in the books, I am still not a proponent of the treadmill. HOWEVER, my experience with Zwift definitely takes some of the monotony out of the equation and opened my eyes to considering actually using one, even if only a handful of times throughout the winter months.
I still don’t own a treadmill, and am not actively seeking to add one to my basement…yet…but if YOU have a treadmill or access to one, I would encourage you to snag a footpod and give Zwift a shot.
Snag a RunPod for yourself and use code BibRave15 to save 15% – but hurry, this code is only good for the first 1000 RunPods!