Treadmill Intervals and Progression Runs with Zwift!

Disclaimer: I received a Zwift RunPod (to assist me in my review of Zwift Run) 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!

I tested the Zwift platform back in December of last year. I declared it was the greatest thing to happen to treadmills, and I still stand by that statement.

This time I have jumped deeper into the Zwift virtual world and have come away with even more appreciation for this form of training. In fact, I am considering buying a treadmill just so I have easy access to Zwift at home.

When testing last year, we had arranged some vitual 5Ks together, and that was fun, but it was only when we started running intervals and progression runs this time around, did I fully realize how effective this training platform could be.

We have been taking part in weekly training sessions on Zwift, called “Turn It Up Tuesdays” (Tuesdays at 7am EST), and these have been amazing.

Instead of just a steady treadmill run, these are interval runs (short intervals were you run faster, sandwiched by recovery periods) or progression runs (starting off slow and ending fast).

Within the virtual world, your route has “check-points” that you run through to complete each part of the training. It will then instruct you what speed to change your treadmill to for the next section. It could not be more straight-forward.

The last Turn It Up Tuesday workout we did was called “6×800 Hill Repeats”. I didn’t think anything of it until the first interval started and I was prompted to adjust treadmill to 2% incline, then 3%, then 4%, and so on.

I saw where this was going and was hoping the gym treadmill would not incline more than 5%. Unfortunately it did, and the final interval was at 7%. It nearly killed me.

I always have that “WHAT a great work-out” feeling after we’ve finished and I’m totally energized and ready for work! I’ve never really had the motivation to work that hard on a treadmill before. It feels more like an interval work-out that I’d have outdoors.

Zwift (@gozwiftrun) really is an effective training platform. I have no doubt about that.

Instead of struggling to view my iPhone screen, I’m using an iPad this time. The bigger screen definitely improves the experience. If I ever get a treadmill at home I plan to run Zwift on an Apple TV and put it up on a big screen in front of me.

The treadmill speed at the gym seemed to align very well with the speeds reported by the Zwift RunPod ($29.99 on the Zwift store) attached to my shoe. So much so, it made sense to use Zwift exclusively to update Garmin and Strava and not use my watch at all (you can connect apps to sync with using the Zwift Companion app).

This approach uploads a map of the virtual area in which you ran. I was able to fool many of my friends into believing I was in New York, running in Central Park. You can check out how the run looks on my Strava profile by clicking the map below.

Click on map to see run on Strava.

Zwift will not control your treadmill. Instead, directions appear on the screen, “Increase treadmill speed to 6.2mph”, “Increase incline to 5%”, etc. You have plenty of time to make the adjustments for each part of the workout.

Free To Run

Zwift is still free for runners, so the RunPod (or some alternative footpod) will be your only cost — provided you have access to a treadmill already. If you have a bluetooth enabled treadmill, you may not need a footpod at all.

It does appear at some stage Zwift will introduce a subscription service for running, similar to the model used for cycling. There is no pricing or time-frame information at the moment that I can find.

Zwift Apps

There are two apps (both available on iOS and Android) that you need to run on Zwift. One is “Zwift Companion”, and the other is “Zwift”. Search for the on your app store of choice. They are free to download.

The companion app is for account/device management and also for signing up to available events — like “Turn It Up Tuesdays!”. You can also give “Ride On”‘s to other Zwifters (the platform’s phrase for passing on encouragement).

The Zwift app is the actual “game” itself. It pairs with Zwift companion when apps share the same network/wifi connection.

Wouldn’t it be cool if…

While there are ample options for customizing your avatar, I wish there were more options to make you more unique and easily identifiable to your friends online.

Or what about allowing users to take their photo and super-impose it on the avatar’s face — see first photo above. 😉

Instead of “Ride On” — something more specific for runners would be very cool.

I was trying to follow along with someone and they took a different path and I lost them. So what about a way of indicating which direction someone else is going so you can follow!

What would you add here?

I think the Zwift (@gozwiftrun) platform is amazing, but wouldn’t it be cool if <insert your idea here>!

How to set up Interval Training on your Garmin

I’ve had my Garmin Forerunner 230 for almost 2 years now, and only recently decided to give Interval Training a go. I knew the watch had an Interval Training function, but I’d never used it.

For those unfamiliar with the term, “Interval Training” is a exercise routine that is made up of sections of intense effort, separated by short periods of rest (or recovery). The “recipe” is entirely up to you (or whatever your training plan dictates).

The idea behind Interval Training is to increase your running speed — in fact, some people refer to it as “Speed Training”, but it also helps to improve muscular endurance.

Plans can use either distance (usually meters) or time — or a mixture of both. A fairly common plan looks something like the following:

  • 1-2 mile warm-up run
  • 400 meters x6 / 1 minute rest
  • 1-2 mile cool-down

To follow this, you’d start with a short easy warm-up, run hard for 400 meters, followed by a 1 minutes recovery period. Repeat 6 times before finally cooling down with another easy run.

400 meters (approximately 1/4 mile) happens to be the standard length of a running track. This means you can leave a supply of water and/fuel by the side of the track to use during your training session.

With Garmin, you can set-up Intervals via the Garmin Connect website, or directly on your watch (see images below). The watch then prompts you when to run and when to rest based on the settings you select.

 

If you don’t have a watch with this functionality, you can use an app on your phone. The Nike+ app allows you to set up Intervals — check out the “Speed Run” option. The Runkeeper app also has a custom workout option that will support Intervals.

Strava at this time does not support Intervals. I sync my runs with Strava and noticed that it doesn’t even support the splits properly, so I have to refer to Garmin Connect to see my splits for Interval sessions.

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Is Interval Training a regular part of your training schedule? What benefits have you seen from it?