A guide to the Zwift virtual running world
The virtual world is always expanding, and it now welcomes runners, in the form of the Zwift app. You may be familiar with Zwift if you are also a cyclist. This app has been helping stationary cyclists train for some time. It’s reaching out to runners now, and it’s making treadmill workouts a lot more social, accurate and interesting. Welcome to virtual running.
The set-up process for the Zwift app is a little fussy but once you’ve connected a couple of input devices it’s smooth sailing. Download the app from your app store (Apple and Android available), and pair it with a foot pod and a heart rate monitor. Garmin fans can connect any ANT+ device, and BLE connected pods work, too. You’ll need that foot pod to send the app accurate stride information to eliminate the invariable discrepancy between treadmill distance and road. Once paired, be sure to calibrate the app using the 60 second test track.
Because of Zwift’s cycling heritage, the virtual running tracks are actually cycle paths. You’ll see other cyclists and runners on the path, which adds a nice touch of realism (and a hint of competition if that’s what you’re looking for). There is a huge social element to this virtual running world. You can coordinate with friends to run together, or pair up with strangers on the same course. There’s even virtual running groups you can team up with.
You can select the type of training session you want to run, which helps elevate this app from an observer-only app to a really interactive experience. Let it guide you through 400m repeats, tempo runs and speed work sessions.
Overall, it’s a great app, but will need some finessing as feedback from the running community demonstrates how runners use the app differently from cyclists. It’s better used on a tablet than a phone, if only because the larger screen makes inputs easier when you’re mid-run. Keep an eye out for custom workouts in the future, too. Zwift is a virtual running experience that could prove interesting and useful for treadmill warriors and those looking for a more social running experience.
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