I’ve been using Zwift since there was just one route on Watopia, but this is the first year that I haven’t suspended my subscription over the summer. The reason – Zwift Running.
For me, there are no decent running routes out of the front door (IRL), so having something to keep me occupied on the treadmill has been great.
Unfortunately, I’ve also found myself getting increasingly frustrated with some of the issues and the development of running on Zwift. The most annoying thing is how small/simple some of this stuff would be to solve/implement.
So rather than grumbling to myself, I thought I’d do a (not-so) quick write-up to share some of my thoughts and grievances.
So that this isn’t just a slew of criticism, I’ve included a possible solution to each problem.
Most of Zwift’s roads are inaccessible to runners:
I seldom run more than 5-6km on a treadmill. Sadly, the available start points mean that, unless you’re running ultra-marathons, most of Watopia’s (and other World’s) course will never be seen by non-cyclists.
The other day I decided to run up the Alp-du-Zwift. When explaining this to some non-Zwifters, they simply could not wrap their head around the fact that I was going to have to ride my bike there, then get off and run.
Loads more start points for runners – preferably no more than 10km apart.
Ghost Runners, or lack thereof:
There aren’t any! Aside from acting as a temporary stopgap to flesh-out the presently diminutive Zwift running community, the motivational benefits of being able to run against a previous PB, a set speed, or a chosen workout would be great.
Challenges, Missions, and Drops – or again, lack thereof:
There are little things that have kept me coming back to Zwift cycling month-after-month. Currently, I’m unable to run Italy, California, or Mount Everest. The creative side of something like this could be done in very little time (as evidenced here: https://zwiftinsider.com/lejog-challenge/) and the functionality already exists from the cycling platform.
Similarly, things like missions and (more recently) Drops, are just more of those small motivators that add up to keep me engaged. So far, there’s just been one mission for running.
Bring these perks over to running.
There are still some kinks. I remember Eric Min’s birthday run when 50% of the runners were routed the wrong way within the first 30 seconds!
When I ran up the Alp Du Zwift, I wasn’t expecting the same roulette-style unlocks as the cyclists get, but I was also surprised the user interface was mashed over the top of the route-specific interface.
I guess you’re aware of these things and are working on them/they’re on the list.
My Milestone/Zwift Run Pod works flawlessly – said no one, ever. I don’t have one, but I see a lot of complaints about these. I guess you get what you pay for, but it would be great if runners looking to test the water with Zwift didn’t have to shell out 100 bucks or more to get something that worked.
I had a Polar foot-pod, which was equally bad. I then bought a Tread Tracker, which works very well, except for a couple of occasions where a Zwift update has stopped it from transmitting speed (an essential metric, some would argue). The last time that happened it took numerous emails to support and two (premature) escalations to convince them that a Zwift update had caused the issue.
Continuing with the Tread Tracker, this seems like the sort of hardware that Zwift should be investing in. Consider this – it has an arm on it that moves up and down when you adjust your incline. Fit a digital angle finder to it and you’ve got a device you can slap under any treadmill that could then transmit both speed, and incline (something that only elaborate homebrew solutions or retrofitted gem-modules can currently do).
Ultimately, Zwift Running will really hit its stride when there are treadmills that Zwift can control, but since that’s probably a few years away, it would be great of some of these simple things could be given some consideration.