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>!

POEM: We’ve Trained For This

despite the fears that cloud our minds
despite the doubts that try to blind
despite the aches that hinder our stride
I know we’ve trained for this

we’ve gone the distance and felt the wall
we’ve supported each other through it all
we’ll finish strong you can bet that for sure
cause I know we’ve trained for this

we were burnt by the sun and beat by the rain
we even did some running in a hurricane
there were days so cold that our fingers froze
so I know we’ve trained for this

our families encouraged us through each training day
without their support we’d only make it half way
twenty-six point two is some serious mileage
but I know, and they know, we’ve trained for this


Alastair Vance, March 14th, 2019

Marathon Training March Update

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Allscripts Tobacco Road Marathon 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!

Well, our marathon training is complete, or (more appropriately) as complete as it’s going to be. I can’t believe it’s over a month since my last marathon update. So much has happened.

I spent three weeks in Ireland with my youngest son, catching up with family. I probably trained at around 75% of what I should have been. I did manage to run 20 miles solo which was a big achievement and something I’ll carry with me on race day.

I also ran a half marathon in Carlingford, Ireland which was just stunning. I wanted to pause along the route to take photos.

If you know me, or follow this blog, you’ll have heard of my vertigo episode a year or so ago which I believe was linked to a long flight and running too soon after landing (doh!). Thankfully, no reoccurrence of this. I made sure to rest a day or two after each flight.

It was nice to get back to North Carolina, because Xander and I missed his mommy and siblings, and it was nice to pick back up training with my running crew.

I wish I could tell you my leg/foot pain has gone away, but it hasn’t. It’s still there, and it’s reduced the total number of miles I should have been running over the last 7 weeks – without a doubt. I bought and have been wearing a tight compression sleeve on it while I run and that has been helping. After the race I may need to go and see a professional about it, as something is not right.

Due to this injury, one of the hardest things I’ve had to do this training cycle is adjust my expectations. I was hoping for a sub-4 finish, but it became increasingly obvious this was not achievable. I guess I will have to plan another marathon after all. 🤣

This will be my last marathon training update for Tobacco Road — the race is tomorrow.

Marathon Training February Update

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Allscripts Tobacco Road Marathon 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!

17 miles too long…

My friends and I are training for the Tobacco Road Marathon on 17th March 2019. For many of us, it’s our first full marathon. This post will bring you up to date on events since my last update.

Well, things have not gone as planned. Let me start way back where I believe my problems began…

I predominately run in the same brand of shoes — for the last 2 years or so. I’ve never had an issue until recently, when a new order of two pairs arrived at my house. I opened one of the boxes, tied up the laces and away I went.

I know how these shoes feel when they’re new and these seemed to be lacking that cushion I was accustomed to. My feet were making slapping noises on the pavement.

They were the same shoes as I always wear. It must be all in my head, right?

I kept on running in them, thinking I would break them in soon. After one of my recent long runs my right ankle felt a little sore, like I’d rolled it a couple of times.

I ignored the pain and continued to run through another week. At that week’s end I had 18 miles planned, with the potential of a couple more if I felt good. I was a little nervous going into it because the twinge in my ankle kept nagging at me.

I should have listened to my body. It was one of my worst runs on this training cycle. By mile 9 I had all sorts of new pains in that leg and by mile 14 buzzards (I may have been hallucinating) were circling above, waiting for me to collapse. I deviated from the planned route and arrived home with 17 miles.

The next couple of days my calf muscle was tight and sore, and the more I thought how unusual this was, the more I started to link my shoes to it. I decided to write to the shoe company and tell them of my experience. They immediately agreed to allow me to exchange them — even with 100+ miles logged.

Before I decided whether to return one or both pairs. I opened the second pair from the same order to try them out. I managed a short 3 mile run mid-week, and in my head, this pair felt more like they should have.

So good news — I don’t have to change shoe brands so late in my training! But I wish I hadn’t waited so long to sort it out.

Recovery Time

3 miles to try out the shoes was all I managed to run this week. I made the hard decision to not run this weekend and instead cross train on my bike. While it was fun to be still out there with my running buddies, I was wishing the whole time that I was running.

I cycled 6 miles on Friday and then 14 on Saturday. As well as trying to support the guys putting in the real work, I took the opportunity to record some video of everyone running on the Tobacco Trail.

The video was shot and edited completely on my iPhone.

Even in mid February, the Tobacco Trail is a lovely place to run. I keep looking at the new housing developments going up near the trail and thinking how nice and convenient it would be to live so close to it.

It’s not too late to sign up for the marathon!
Use code TRMRAVE19 to get $20 off.

I am hoping to get back out on my feet tomorrow for a short run and see how it goes from there. I am supposed to run 22 miles this coming weekend, but I’m not sure whether I just need to push that out a week and aim for the 14 I skipped this weekend.

The only (big) drawback with pushing out the 22 miler, is that weekend I’ll be in Ireland without my running crew to support me.

Marathon Training January Update

Disclaimer: I received free entry to Allscripts Tobacco Road Marathon 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 have only 7 weeks left until my first full marathon at Tobacco Road Marathon in Cary, NC. I’m using the Nike Marathon plan and in short, training has been going well.

At this stage I have confidence that I’ll complete it. But will I walk away with a great result? Will I walk away at all?

I know a lot of runners aspire to quality for the Boston marathon. I’m not shooting for Boston — not this time.

But my heart is not set on running Boston. In fact, there’s many other marathons I’d love to run first — Big Sur! New York City! Missoula! Honolulu! Chicago! Check out the BibRave 100 for more ideas!

BTW if you do wish to qualify for Boston, the Tobacco Road Marathon is one of the best marathons to qualify with. It’s a fairly flat course and helps send many runners to Boston.

On race day I’m hoping for as close to 4:00 as possible, which would mean a pace of 9:05/mi or faster for 26.freaking2 miles. I’m not there yet. Not for that distance. I do have some encouraging news to share though.

Upon examination of my last few long runs, I’m seeing progress. Even though the runs are getting longer, I am running them faster! I just need to shave off another 15 seconds per mile, which I think is doable.

Long runs are scary.

Just writing this post is making me think about my next long run and freak out a little.

I’m still experimenting with fueling, not having gone this kind of distance before, and it’s been hard to get it right. At the moment I’m using a combination of gels and granola bars.

I do know that Chicken Biryani the night before is a bad idea.

So while I have 7 weeks left until the marathon, the hard work is nearly over. I have really only 2 super long runs left. 18 miles again this weekend, a drop to 14 the week after and then the big one — 22 miles! 😨

There’s still time to sign up. At the time of writing, both the half and the full marathon have slots available. Use code TRMRAVE19 to get $20 off registration.

Go Farther with Gatorade Endurance

Disclaimer: I received Gatorade Endurance formula and energy gels to review 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!

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If you’ve been following my Instagram feed and/or Twitter feed recently, you’ll know I’ve been using Gatorade Endurance formula and energy gels in my training runs. Gatorade Endurance are releasing new flavors and I received some samples (via BibRave) to review on my blog.

The timing of this review couldn’t be better. We’ve had some really unseasonably hot weather here in North Carolina. Morning runs have been in mid-eighties with high humidity, and evening runs have been close to one hundred degrees.

The Gatorade Endurance line of products are not like the normal Gatorade you buy in the store. Gatorade Endurance is designed for endurance athletes and adds extra sodium and potassium to take you farther.

Continue reading “Go Farther with Gatorade Endurance”