Okay, if you ever ran outdoors and especially if you are a member of a running club, the thought of racking up the miles indoors instead, even on the very best treadmill (opens in new tab) is probably not enticing. Running to the sound of the machine's belt whirring away under your feet while staring at the wall is just not what you got into running for. However, when it comes to protecting your joints and avoiding horrendous weather, indoor running has a lot going for it. And now, thanks to the Zwift Run Pod and Zwift's app, indoor running training can be a fun group activity.
• Buy the Zwift Run Pod for £38 at Zwift.com (opens in new tab)
In case you aren't familiar with it, Zwift is an app for cyclists and runners where you can cycle/run in virtual worlds along other Zwifters, aka other users of the app, in real time, viewed on a tablet (opens in new tab), or any other screen that can show apps. The big appeal of Zwift is its community; thousands of people are using it and regardless of which virtual world you choose, there will be plenty of activity around you at any given point during the day.
Until recently the focus has largely been on cycling, using bikes attached to smart turbo trainers (opens in new tab). However, with the likes of Run Pod and Zwift Runn (opens in new tab) – a motion sensor that turns any treadmill into a Zwift-compatible smart treadmill – runners are now getting a bigger slice of the action.
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What is the Zwift Run Pod?
The Zwift Run Pod is a little device you can clip on your running shoes (opens in new tab) which feeds your running metrics back into the Zwift app. The benefit of using the Zwift Run Pod over any other cadence sensor – like the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod (opens in new tab) or the Polar Cadence Sensor (opens in new tab) – is that it was designed to work with the Zwift app, providing a more seamless experience overall.
Of course, you can just put an episode of Friends on as you churn out the miles on a treadmill, but using the Zwift Run Pod and the Zwift app, you can track and analyse your performance more efficiently and also train with other people, even your friends, without having to battle the elements outside.
If you want to add even more body metrics to the mix, consider getting a running watch (opens in new tab) (for tracking heart rate) and a pair of running headphones (opens in new tab) too; and, admittedly, Zwift is best experienced on a large screen, so you'd need at least an iPad (opens in new tab) or even better, one of the best TVs (opens in new tab).
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How much does the Zwift Run Pod cost?
It must be super expensive to do running training indoors using the Zwift app, right? You'd be happy to hear that apart from having to purchase the Zwift Run Pod (£35.90/$39.99), to use the Zwift app for running training is actually free – for the time being.
As it was the case when the cycling feature was rolled out, the Zwift Run feature is currently in Beta and offered for free to use – all you have to do is sign up for a Zwift account and off you go.
Naturally, you will still need a treadmill to run on, but considering how cheap gym memberships are nowadays, it shouldn't be an issue for many. Even if you have a non-smart treadmill at home, you can use the Zwift Run Pod and gather data that way.
• Buy the Zwift Run Pod at zwift.com (opens in new tab)
Talking about treadmill running at home: Zwift is now offers a treadmill sensor, the Zwift Runn (opens in new tab), which is an 'install and forget' type device that you can clip onto your non-smart treadmill. The Zwift Runn installs onto the side rail of most treadmills. The optical speed sensor to track belt rotation speed and broadcasts data directly back to Zwift via BLE and ANT+. This means you get the most accurate speed, distance, incline, and cadence data while running on Zwift, helping you level up every time you train.
The benefit of using the Zwift Runn over the Zwift Run Pod is that you can install it and forget about it being there, although in the same time, the Zwift Run Pod can be used elsewhere too, so if you are an avid gym-goer, the Zwift Run Pod will probably suit your lifestyle more.
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