Disclaimer: I received the Zwift RunPod 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.
For reasons many of you will remember, despite the frozen tundra that was winter in Chicago last year, I took my runs outside as part of a challenge to run either 40K (about 25 miles) or 80K (about 50 miles) over a 14-day period, from January 2nd to January 15th. Me being me, of course I went for the bigger distance. The photo on the right is me about to go for my first run of the challenge. Needless to say, these runs weren’t fast, they didn’t last long, and they probably weren’t very productive. But I met the 80K challenge (in fact exceeded it) only to receive…please don’t get me started.
Anywho, fool me once. This winter I am keeping most of my runs indoors. The older I get, the less I like the cold, and at any age, I’ve never particularly liked freezing my buns off! 40° or higher and you will likely find me outdoors. But temperatures below freezing? No thanks. Luckily, I don’t hate the treadmill. In fact I kind of like it (I know that’s blasphemy to many runners)! Until a few years ago, I never ran outside, so I have a pretty good relationship with Old Milly. In fact we’ve been together for almost 20 years! So when the opportunity to try the Zwift RunPod presented itself, I was more than happy to give it a try.
So what is Zwift, and what is a run pod? I’m glad you asked! Zwift is a platform for both cyclists and runners where athletes of all levels can sync up a pod (attached to their shoe) and participate in virtual rides or runs, either on their own, in specific groups, or with random participants around the globe. The Zwift platform is downloaded to a computer or tablet device, and for the best experience, the Zwift Companion app is downloaded to a phone (either IOS or Android). The Zwift Companion app allows users to communicate with other runners. Once the platform is downloaded, an account is set up and allows you to custom-create an Avatar that you (and others) can watch virtually running on the screen in sync with what you are actually doing on the treadmill. You can create groups, participate in scheduled events, or just run at your own pace in the comfort and convenience of your own home (or gym if you prefer). Since I tested the running platform with my Zwift RunPod, I will focus on that for my review.
The Zwift RunPod is a small device that fits in the palm of your hand. It easily clips to your shoelaces and with motion will ‘wake up’ and sync up to the platform on your device. I received mine in late November and couldn’t wait to test it out. The first thing I did was download the Zwift platform to my laptop. I downloaded it to my MacBook Air and it worked like a charm. The first time. The next time I tried to use it, I couldn’t get it to sync up, no matter how hard I tried. I ran on my treadmill for 30 minutes, but my Avatar just stood there bending and stretching the entire time. She did get a pretty good stretch in! I was, however, able to track my run on the Zwift Companion app on my phone. I decided to try a different device, so I downloaded the platform to my Microsoft Surface. I had some trouble getting it to work, but eventually got everything to sync up. I took a nice 3.3 mile virtual run through the streets of London, and enjoyed having something to focus on during my run.
Next on the agenda was a virtual 30 minute run with a number of other BibRave Pros. I was excited to participate in this run and see exactly how the platform works for running virtually with a group. I was especially excited because my neighbor and I have been running together for the past few months, and I was hoping we could get some virtual buddy runs in on our respective treadmills during the cold winter months. I headed down to my basement about 15 minutes before the scheduled event to make sure I could get things up and running in time. But alas, try as I may, I could not get it to work. I was able to watch my group’s Avatars run the course, but I couldn’t get my phone or my laptop to recognize the device.
The following day I decided to start from scratch. I changed the battery in the shoe pod and deleted and then reinstalled the platform from my laptop and the companion app from my phone. And…Wollah! I was back in business! Since then, I’ve completed a few more virtual runs and have not had any issues at all. I’m not sure if I had a weak battery, if it was operator error, or if my Wi-Fi signal in my basement was being sketchy. Probably a combination of things.
Now that I have had a number of runs using Zwift Run with my pod, I can safely say I would definitely recommend it. It’s a nice way to keep motivated on your indoor runs, especially for those of you who like to call it the DREADmill. With several spring races coming up this year, I am very much looking forward to my indoor training runs over the cold and snowy winter months.
Do you already have a Zwift RunPod? Add your Zwift user name in the comments below or send me an e-mail (link above) and we can go for a virtual run together sometime! If you are interested in purchasing one, click on this link and use code BibRave15 to receive 15% off of your purchase!
Check out more reviews by my fellow BibRave Pros: