Zwift Evolves

Zwift Island has grown since it began as a cycling gaming platform, back when Slowtwitch first wrote about Zwift. It has evolved from a single loop on Zwift Island to a virtual world.

Within the past two weeks Zwift added two new courses: an 9.2 mile gamified loop of both urban and rural roads, including Box Hill; and a 4.3 mile course that mirrors the famous Prudential RideLondon criterium loop.

Some Slowtwichers may still consider Zwift a game rather than a training platform, but its evolution toward the latter has been, well, Zwift. It has expanded from strictly social group rides, and now includes use by professional cyclists and triathletes, with structured workouts and plans created by, among others, Hunter Allen. This, and the ability to create and save individual workouts, places Zwift in the same conversation with platforms like TrainerRoad. In fact, I believe their custom workout screen is one of, if not the, nicest layouts available.

If that wasn’t enough to convince you that Zwift has evolved beyond a simple cycling video-game, then a recent observation by some keen Slowtwitcher's of a person in Slowtwitch clothing running on Zwift may.

Slowtwitch reached out to Jon Mayfield of Zwift to make sure the programmers weren't just having fun with users, or whether running is the natural progression for Zwift. To our surprise, the runner on Zwift was actually Zwift founder Jon Mayfield.

Jon explained how Zwift experimented with running in its early days but decided to focus on cycling to start; but it was always on their minds. Most importantly, Slowtwitch learned that Zwift would not require many changes to begin a beta running component. In fact, some may have noticed the recent addition of a max HR screen that is actually geared for running. There have also been runners using Zwift, disguised cyclists, using a Stryd power meter, quite a novel idea and a good way to get a feel for what Zwift running might be like.

Slowtwitch was able to get a couple of details on what a beta release of Zwift run would look like. First, the only requirement is a way to get running pace into Zwift, such as a foot pod or one of the various HR straps that broadcast pace. There will be options to use a running power meter, or leverage an accessary like the Wahoo Gym Connect, but this won’t be required. Beside some basic gear, and a treadmill of course, users would run on the same routes as cyclists on Zwift, including their soon-to-be released London course. They’ll be able to organize group runs and races along with all the other features found on Zwift such as unlocking achievements and placing on live leaderboards.

The idea of Zwift adding a run platform presents a number of possibilities: Would users like Zwift to control the treadmill (e.g. incline or pace)? Should Zwift rely on treadmill speed, foot pod, or a running power meter? What about structured training programs for running? Post your thoughts on the forum Zwift running thread.