A simple and cheap way to add smart features to your dumb home treadmill
- Easy to fit and set up
- Works perfectly with Zwift
- Limited stats
- Zwift is fiddly to use on smartphones
If you’ve bought a treadmill for use at home during lockdown, chances are it doesn’t have fancy features like Bluetooth connectivity for connectivity to Zwift or Peloton, but fear not. Using a simple running pod like the Zwift RunPod, you can track your treadmill runs – via the accompanying Zwift app or a watch – as if you were running outdoors. Plus, if you supplement it with a Bluetooth heart rate chest belt like the ones on our Best Heart Rate Monitors page, you can get a full breakdown of your training efforts, too.
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Zwift RunPod review: What you need to know:
- Fits any lace-up running shoe
- Tracks speed, cadence and distance without the need for GPS
- Bluetooth connectivity
- Works with Zwift app and many sports watches
- Access to the Zwift running app, virtual workouts and running world is currently free
- Takes one CR2032 battery (supplied)
- Weight: 13g
- Dimensions: 38 x 38 x 16mm (WDH)
What do we love about the Zwift RunPod?
It’s cheap: When it comes to high-tech running accessories, the Zwift RunPod has to be one of the cheapest we’ve come across. It costs a mere £35 and access to the Zwift running app, unlike the cycling version, is free (although as always with these things you can’t guarantee this will always be true). All you need is access to a treadmill and the beauty of the system is that any treadmill will do; it doesn’t have to be some fancy professional all-singing, all-dancing machine.
Easy to fit: Once you’ve fitted the battery, which comes in the box, the RunPod is child’s play to fit. Simply unclip the top, slip the base of the unit under the laces on your running shoes and clip the top back on to secure it in place. You’ll not need to touch it again until the time comes to replace the battery.
Works perfectly with Zwift: It’s super-easy to setup and connect, too. All you need to do to get going is download and install the Zwift app and set up an account, and pair with the RunPod, which takes a couple of seconds. Then you’ll need to calibrate the pod – which involves running for a short while at a certain speed on your treadmill – then whenever you want to go running, the RunPod will be ready to go.
You can use it to measure outdoor runs more accurately: GPS watches are great at tracking your position and speeds but a running pod, once calibrated properly, can be even more accurate. Running pods are also more responsive to changes in pace and aren’t affected by things like tunnels and bridges. The Zwift RunPod connects via Bluetooth and can be paired with any sports watch that supports third party sensor pairing. You will need to calibrate it again, once you’ve paired it with your chosen running watch, however.
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What don’t we like about the Zwift RunPod?
Treadmill-only calibration: This is easy to do and fine if you trust the speed of your treadmill but not all treadmill speeds are accurate. Alas, there’s no way of calibrating for Zwift environment by running outdoors – say a known distance around a track – which would provide for more accurate calibration. You can calibrate it for running outside easily, though, since this mechanism is normally provided by your running watch.
Only basic data provided: The Zwift Runpod can measure speed, cadence and distance but nothing more than this. Other running pods, such as the Garmin Running Dynamics Pod provide more stats for you to pore over such as ground contact time and stride length among others. If you want a running pod to use for mainly outdoor running with only a little indoor training on the side, the Zwift RunPod may therefore not be the pod for you.
The Zwift app is fiddly to use on a smartphone: Zwift can be used on a smartphone but it’s best used on a tablet because the text is too small and difficult to read on smaller screens and the buttons are tiny and difficult to press when your arms are extended.
May not connect with older running watches: If you’re thinking of using the Zwift RunPod with an older running watch that doesn’t support connection with Bluetooth sensors, you’re out of luck since there’s no support for the ANT+ connection standard.