Zwift RunPod has landed! Well, we said landed, but should we perhaps say appeared! We know that Zwift has the coding chops to produce amazing 3D worlds, but do they have the expertise to get into the hardware game? Well, the Zwift RunPod has a little secret…
Zwift RunPod – Your Treadmill Just got Upgraded!
I say that Zwift RunPod has a little secret, you see the MilestonePod as released in 2017, stepped into the door, and out came the Zwift RunPod. Same kit, difference face (slightly)
Zwift has taken the indoor cycling market by storm, but the gym treadmill has pretty much remained the zone for flat screen TV’s and subtitles until Zwift turned their sights towards runners as their next market.
One story I was told about regarding the inception/development of Zwift Running was related to one of the wives of a Zwift HQ staffer. Their partner had a running group which they enjoyed, but when travelling with work, wasn’t able to get to their meetups. The discussion ensued at ZwiftHQ along the lines of, “We meet up on Zwift for our group rides etc wherever we are in the world, wouldn’t it be cool if we could do the same with a running group? Pop down to the hotel gym, jump on the treadmill, and be able to run together…” So now we have Zwift Running!
To get Zwift running, up and well running, you need to be able to communicate to Zwift your pace. The two products at the current extremes of the Zwift Running kit scale are the Stryd foot pod, coming in at £199, and then Treadmill Smart Speed phone app which comes in at a distinctly more palatable £4.99, but with the need to wear a phone armband
As Zwift expects their running app to have an even larger market than their cycling simulator, it made sense of the company to snap up the MilestonePod foot pod and rebrand it as the first piece of Zwift hardware, and is available direct for $29.99
Thus the Zwift RunPod is the cheapest hardware option for getting into Zwift Running. However, the internals means this is far from a dumb foot pod. The MilestonePod is able to record some excellent running metrics data, which the Zwift RunPod is also able to access through the use of the Milestone App
In fact, the only major thing which the Zwift RunPod / Milestone is unable to record is power when running – which given that Polar has just incorporated this into their Polar Vantage V running watch, I’m inclined to wonder if this is only a timing thing?
So let’s take a closer look at the Zwift RunPod!
Zwift RunPod – Device Design
The Zwift RunPod arrives in a company-specific orange box, which opens up to reveal the pod nestled within
So what do you get in the box? You have the RunPod in itself, quick start guide, and a Cr2032 battery hidden behind
The actual Zwift RunPod is quite small, a subtle “Z” on the centre. There is a slight texturing to the lower portion of the device, which breaks up the otherwise plain black plastic. Overall the Zwift RunPod is a very unassuming package, which will quickly disappear when you attached the pod on your shoe, especially if they are dark in colour…unlike my yellow and blue On Running shoes!
The back of the unit twists off to allow your shoelaces to pass through, and is then secured by turning the back plate to get a “click”.
The Zwift RunPod lace openings initially appear a little small, but I had to, apply more pressure to attach my laces
I’m sure that the sharp-eyed of you will have noticed that the back of the Zwift RunPod still has the original Milestone mouldings. Given that the team have gone as far as changing the branding underneath the battery I’m surprised that the battery cover was not also replaced, but I suppose an unnecessary cost is just that!
SO with the foot pod installed, time to test things out!
Zwift RunPod Specifications and Metrics
- Battery life: 6-8 months of use per battery change (hmm my battery needed replacing after 3 weeks!)
- Battery: CR2032
- Communications: BlueTooth Smart
- Weight: 13g with battery
- Water resistance: IPX 67
- Storage: The Zwift RunPod has memory to store about 20hrs of run/walk data – which can be downloaded when you sync with the Milestone app – (an update has currently broken this, Milestone say a fix is due next week)
- Auto detects run: Once cadence passes 100 SPM for >6mins, the Pod will start to record, and include those previous six mins of activity. Conversely when doing <100SPM for >6mins the pod will call the run over
Zwift RunPod – Manual
Well, there isn’t one really, the instructions are so simple they fit on a very small piece of card in the box. There is however a troubleshooting section on the Zwift Homepage here
Using the Zwift RunPod
The first thing to do after unboxing is to download the MilestonePod app – available for Android HERE, or for iOS HERE – yes the rebrand only runs to the hardware.
Once installed, you need to connect your pod to your smartphone. It is very important that this is done through the Milestone App and not your normal Bluetooth settings connection
I have found that sometimes the app finds the sensor without trying, but that sometimes you also need to put in the identifer code for the podWith the Zwift RunPod connected, you can name your black dot whatever you desire. There is a clear marketing reason for this, given the low cost at which the Zwift RunPod has been pitched, it is hoped that you’ll actually buy a pod for multiple pairs of trainers, such as both for your gym shoes and your running shoes – hence personal naming
During the setup, you are asked to fill in the information regarding the shoe you are using. Not merely the shoe type, but brand model and size.
I was genuinely amazed at the HUGE range of shoes the Milestone app has in their database, quickly finding my On Running shoes
Final setup involves telling Milestone who you are, and a few personal stats. Now, this is different from your Zwifrt account, as the two are not connected. You need to enter this double data for the app to be able to correctly calculate your running metrics
With the app primed, the Milestone paired, and shoes identified, it is off for to the gym! But there is still more calibration to do!
The connection to Zwift is much easier. Simply select the Running option after login, and search for the Zwift RunPod
Once selected, you are returned again to the Device screen – by the side of the Run Speed box there is a small wrench, you need to click this in order to calibrate the Zwift RunPod against your trainer
You set a pace on your treadmill that you are comfortable keeping for 40 secs, hit calibrate and then you good to go.
It is important to calibrate your unit as soon as you can, as out of the box, the Zwift RunPod is approximately 93-95% accurate out of the box in my experience
Zwift Running with Zwift RunPod
Everything works exactly as you would expect on the general Zwift front. I fact I would argue that the setup is a touch easier, as you only have the foot pod and heart rate to worry about. After the device screen, you are presented with the Zwift Run options. Top RIGHT has the upcoming group events, far LEFT is any active missions you may want to joint. Finally, in the centre, you can see RIDERS whom you know, but they are greyed out, and other users running. Clicking on the runner will allow you to join with them.
Then you have to… well get on with the job of running!
Some observations when actually using the Zwift RunPod, to you know, Zwift run:
- No dropouts,
- The slight lag of maybe 1-2 seconds between me changing pace and the avatar responding.
- Very accurate speed estimation (comparing to the treadmill) – treadmill set at 10.7km/hr – with Zwit putting that at 10.85km/hr after conversion of pace
Ultimately a very simple add-on to your Zwift setup. Essentially a “fire and forget” hardware option for running on Zwift, stick on a shoe, and just change the batteries as needed. Now, it might sound a bit strange to suggest just leaving the Zwift RunPod attached to your shoe regardless, but there is a simple reason for that. The Milestone metrics are probably of MORE use when running outside
Zwift RuningPod – OUTSIDE Running!
The Zwift RunPod is able to autodetect your run when it detects your cadence going over 100 RPM for 6 mins, so you can see that data generated after the run. Again fire and forget, you can go running, and leave your running watch at home if you wanted.
If for some reason you don’t use Zwift – which would be a little odd, buying their branded run pod, you can also calibrate using the Milestone app in conjunction with your phones GPS
In order to calibrate, when you have returned from the run, load up the Milestone app, sync, then view your last run. If you look at the run details, you can “tap to calibrate” in the top LEFT.
From here you can input the distance calculated from your GPS, or treadmill tracking to increase the accuracy of the MilestonePod on your next run.
The Milestone app is where you get the additional running metric data. This data can be accessed in two ways. Firstly visible within the run details, where you can see your various running metrics from that activity, while critically explaining what they mean.
Across the bottom of the activity details, are three additional pages for foot strike, graphs and laps, which allow you to view your results in different ways, with suggestions on how to use the data to improve
The graphs tab allows you to visualise how your pace relates to four metrics, cadence, stride length, GCT, and Runficiency; all focused on helping you to understand how to get to a faster pace The graphs tab allows you to visualise how your pace relates to four metrics, cadence, stride length, GCT, and Runficiency; all focused on helping you to understand how to get to a faster pace
I do like the Foot Strike data, but as you can see, I’m not doing too well at converting to midfoot running! But hopefully with a little concentration on my running form, I’ll manage to adjust, and that will hopefully reduce my knee pain when running! It would be good to be able to see THESE two metrics on the fly, either to the app, or broadcast to a running watch.
If you want to look more generally at what the three core metrics of cadence, ground contact time, and stride length mean, you can use the “insights” tab on the home screen of the app to select a metric to focus on. After that, the MileStone app, not Zwift, will send you periodic emails to improve on your selected parameter.
Personally, I think this subtle education is one of the best features of the MilestonePod, and would dearly like to see more integration with Zwift. I’m sure that there are many people who have devices with a broad range of metrics that don’t fully understand either what the metric means, or how it relates to the athlete, and Zwift may prove to be a great education platform – heck look how many people have a rough idea of what cycling with power is now!
Zwift RunPod / MilestonePod – Conclusion
You have a battery life measured in multiple months, a simple user interface, and the cheapest hardware approach to running on Zwift.
Even with a battery life of months, as the battery is easily user replaceable there is no faffing waiting for the recharge if you do find a flat battery, just swap the coin cell and head out You have a battery life measured in multiple months, a simple user interface, and the cheapest hardware approach to running on Zwift.
The fact that the Zwift decided to purchase Milestone is such a no-brainer for me. Such a great price, coupled with good accuracy for speed and distance when on Zwift, all the additional information, and how this might improve your running as well, I have no hesitation in giving the Zwift RunPod (and Milestone progenitor) 5/5, AND a TitaniumGeek Recommend!