Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod to evaluate as part of being a BibRave Pro. Learn more about becoming a BibRave Pro (ambassador), and check out BibRave.com to find and write race reviews!”
The dreadmill, I really mean the treadmill, is one of the most painful device for runners. I personally hate treadmills and would rather run outside in the cold and rain before I run five minutes on one. Early this year, I had to do my 20 mile long run for the Flying Pig Marathon on a treadmill at LA Fitness since it had rained every Sunday during my training. While I didn't think I would complete the 20 miles, it wasn't that bad. I sure hope to not to have to do again.
One company that is making the treadmill less dreadful is Zwift (https://zwift.com/runpod). Zwift uses technology to make running on a treadmill easier and a bit entertaining. Runners can use the Zwift foot pod and mobile apps to track your treadmill running adventures. To test out Zwift, BibRave hosted a virtual run for the Pros.
Setting up the Zwift foot pod
The foot pod comes packaged in a small orange box with a battery that has to be installed. I will admit that it was battle to insert my battery in the foot pod. I used my engineering skills to pry the top off the pod with a butter knife. The battery is secured in a compartment that has a screwed on top.
Wearing the sensor
The foot pod is secured on the shoes between the second and third laces from the top of the shoe to track your motion. Getting the cover off the sensor was difficult, but I got it off. It was a bit of trial and error to secure the sensor for proper tracking, but I got it on my shoes.
Setting up the app
The sensor syncs to the Zwift apps. Initially I tried to install the Zwift apps on my Samsung Galaxy S6, but it was not compatible. Thankfully, I was able to install the Zwift apps (main app and the companion) on my iPad Air 2. The foot pod syncs to the iPad and apps via Bluetooth. The pairing was quick and I was off to the running on the treadmill.
Calibrating the sensor
The sensor can be calibrated using the instructions provided by the app. Calibrating the sensor makes the device more accurate. It can also help with making sure the foot pod is in the correct position on your shoe.
Setting up the Avatar
The Zwift app creates an avatar for each runner. As you run on the treadmill, your avatar reflects your behavior. I was able to customize my avatar so she could be funky on the pavement. The avatar has many options for apparel, skin tones, and hair styles.
As you continue to run, you will unlock more customization options. One of my goals to unlock all the options so my avatar can reach her full potential.
Running with Zwift*
There are many ways to run with Zwift. You can
-set up a plan and run according to what has been laid out
-run with another Zwiffter (another person who uses Zwift)
-set up a private run, which is what we did for the BibRave Pro virtual run
*Zwift can also be used for cycling, but I didn't not evaluate that feature.
I tested the placement of the foot pod and tried out the Zwift platform to prep for the BibRave virtual run. The first step for each run is to pair the pod with the device.
The next step is determine what you want to do. You can choose one of the run options that I listed above. I initially choose a plan and started running.
The course is animated so you can watch your avatar mimic your movements as you run along the course. The software will direct you to change the speed of the treadmill throughout the run. Each treadmill speed change check point is shown as an illuminated "wall". I like that the software adds the flavor of speed changes to make the run more challenging.
Your pace is shown on the screen. If you are on pace, the color will be black (top picture). If you are off pace, the color will be red (bottom picture). The software will tell you how long you have to run a specific pace.
You can pause or end the run at anytime. Once your run ends, you an save the run and export it Strava or another running app.
BibRave Pro Virtual Run
I love virtual runs and this one was no different. Our team had set up an event for us to run 2.8 miles as a group. I joined in person on the treadmill at LA Fitness and my virtual avatar was ready to run with the Orange Gang.
The software was programmed for a progression run. I progressed using my own settings, but I like that software mixed up the pace. I saw Santa during the run and tried to outrun a few of my fellow BibRave Pros.
Overall I like Zwift. I am seriously going to consider running on the treadmill more because watching my avatar outrun out other runners is really cool. There were a few challenges with using the product. The first challenge was removing the foot pod cover to install the battery. It took me an hour to install the battery. I wish better directions and videos were provided for the installation. Also there is no way to turn the foot pod off so you have to remove it off your shoe when you are not using it or the battery will run down. My Samsung Galaxy S6 wasn't compatible, but hopefully a new phone upgrade will fix that so I don't have to take my iPad to the gym.
Want to try?
Use BibRave15 to save 15% for the Zwift RunPod at https://zwift.com/runpod.