Recently, Lonely Goat HQ were introduced to the wonderful world of Zwift- and we already love it.
For those who don’t know, Zwift run is a virtual world for runners. It is like a cross between an indoor training aid and a multiplayer computer game that makes running on a treadmill more fun.
It started off just for cyclists, with the goal of making the experience of cycling indoors on a turbo-trainer more enjoyable, but now, they’ve opened it up to runners. We think it looks set to revolutionise indoor running on treadmills and increase participation in running, just as it has with cycling – where they even have Zwift world championships.
By running you control an avatar who moves throughout the virtual Zwift world, which you watch on your mobile device or a computer screen. The faster you run in the real world, the faster your avatar runs in the virtual world. You can run on different courses, from the fictional land of Watopia to those inspired by real places including London, New York and Yorkshire.
As you progress through Zwift, you pick up experience points and complete challenges that unlock special features, such as different kit to customise your character with. In addition to being a useful tool to make solo treadmill running more interesting, Zwift has a community element, as they host virtual races and challenges in which you can run with other users. Features such as group runs, structured workouts or training sessions can be combined to form a personalised training schedule. It’s so much more than a game, and is a brilliant concept that works really well.
The technological innovation is clever and interesting, but what excites us most about Zwift is how closely it matches up with our aims here at Lonely Goat Running Club. The community side of Zwift allows you to feel like you’re running with other people, even when you’re on your own on a treadmill. This gives the opportunity to get that sense of belonging in a virtual environment, that you might not be able to do in the outside world.
With challenges to try and milestones to reach, there are plenty of goals to aim for and because it’s fun, you might feel motivated to achieve running goals that you might otherwise be struggling with.
We reckon that treadmill running at homes and in gyms is only going to become more popular – especially in the UK where the cold, dark, wet, windy winters can make it difficult to find the motivation to get outdoors. There’s also a safety benefit, as there are many runners who prefer to run indoors. This might include people who are concerned about their personal safety, or people with a lack of suitable routes for running in the dark. If Zwift helps get more people running, then that can only be a good thing.
Other than a treadmill, all you need is a shoe pod to measure your cadence (there are a few on the market and Zwift make one which is available to purchase in the LG shop for £30) that links up with the free Zwift app on your phone, tablet or laptop. You can also use an Apple Watch or the latest Garmin 245/945. There are no subscription fees to pay and setting everything up is fairly straightforward, only taking a few minutes. It even links up with Strava or other training logs you might use. If you’re not especially confident with technology, there’s a useful support section on the Zwift website to help you out.
From our experience, the bigger the screen, the better the experience, so an ideal set up would be to have a tablet or computer screen in front of you when running on the treadmill. That said, running with Zwift on a small phone screen is still an improvement on treadmill running with nothing to distract you.
We would definitely recommend giving Zwift a try. It’s fun, sociable and a great alternative when you can’t, or don’t want to run outdoors.
How to get involved
* You will need a Zwift RunPod, Which can be purchased from the LG shop. or Apple Watch. Treadmill, and a phone or tablet with the Zwift app, bluetooth, and an internet connection.
* Sign up for a Zwift run account at zwift.com and put LGRC after your name.
* Attach your RunPod to your shoes and log in to the Zwift app on your phone or tablet.
* Tap on the button to connect your RunPod to the app and follow the instructions to calibrate it. You’re now ready to run.
* There is a Zwift Companion app for your phone that can enhance the experience and make it easier to find other LGRC members
* Find events to join by signing in to zwift.com/events or using the Zwift Companion app.
Please feel free to contact us if you need help with any of the above.