Running races on Zwift is lots of fun. However, just like racing outdoors, you need to plan and prepare in order to have a successful event. Whilst you don’t have to worry about travel arrangements, hotels, race registration, weather conditions or charging your watch, you do have one or two things to consider. Some are the same as outdoor running and some are unique to Zwift. Here are 10 tips to guide you through racing on Zwift Run.
#1: Be Prepared
Fill your water bottle, have your nutrition on hand, use the restroom and remember to grab anything else you regularly have with you. This is a race, once you start that treadmill there’s no getting off until the finish line!
#2: Log in Early
Turn on your device and load Zwift well before your race start time. This gives you ample opportunity to make sure all equipment is working and to get warmed up. There is nothing more disheartening than a panicked late log on, only to find you need a new battery in your footpod seconds before the start!
#3: Double Check Devices
Make sure they are paired successfully. If you need to calibrate, give yourself enough time to do that.
- Pair footpod as speed source
- Pair footpod as cadence source
- Calibrate if necessary
- Pair Heart Rate Monitor
- Confirm ‘Connected’ for all devices
#4: Warm Up
Unlike Workout Mode, a race on Zwift will not have a built-in warm up. You need to be ready to go when the countdown reaches zero! Perhaps start with some dynamic stretches, if you have room next to the treadmill. Then fire up the treadmill and slowly build up the pace for a few hundred meters. This will warm up the muscles and prepare the heart for the hard effort to come.
#5: Wear a Heart Rate Monitor
Heart rate is displayed so prominently and colorfully in Zwift, it’s a shame not to use it. In racing it is an excellent way to monitor your effort level. Am I pushing it too hard? Can I give a little more?
#6: Have a Strategy
There are a variety of ways to run a race.
- You could start as fast as you can and hope to hold on as you get tired. This is often a mistake. “Don’t go off too fast” is a classic runner’s rule. But it can work if you like suffering in the second half of a race!
- You could start slow and speed up hoping to chase people down towards the finish. This can be an excellent strategy. Target the runner ahead and when you pass them, target the next person. The risk is starting too slow and not having the time or distance to claw it back.
- Arguably the most efficient way is to run at the same pace the whole way. Set the treadmill speed and leave it there for the duration of the run. This will result in ‘even splits’, that is, every mile or kilometer being run in approximately the same time. You’ll catch people as they tire, you don’t have to keep changing the treadmill speed and your heart and legs can settle into a consistent effort.
#7: Target a Time or Finish Position
If you are an experienced runner you probably know what your ballpark 5k or 10k time is. If not, try a 5k free or group run on Zwift at a fairly hard effort to get an idea. Head into the race with the idea of bettering that time. Set the treadmill speed appropriately and go for it. If other runners go off much faster, it would be foolish to try and follow them. But there may be other runners around you doing a similar pace. Stick to the plan until the latter stages, then if you’re still feeling good, you could target the runner ahead to try and improve your finish position.
#8: Cool Down
If you can, try to jog slowly for a few hundred meters after the end of the race. This will aid your recovery by encouraging oxygenated blood to flow into those tired muscles.
#9: Check Zwift Companion
After the race there is a plethora of information to view in Zwift Companion. You will see a breakdown of your heart rate, a map of the route you ran and who gave you a ‘ride on’ during the race. If you used a Stryd footpod, you will see an average power reading. Most importantly you’ll see your finishing time and position.
#10: Eat, Drink, Sleep
As with any run, but perhaps more importantly after a race, you should help your body to recover. That means eating a balance of protein, fat and carbohydrates. It means drinking. Water is fine but it may be beneficial to drink something which contains potassium, magnesium and sodium, commonly known as electrolytes. However, if you are eating a balanced diet, there should be a sufficient quantity of electrolytes in your food. Sleep is the body’s rebuilding time. Get as much of it as you can.
Following these 10 tips should see you have a successful and enjoyable race on Zwift and ensure you are recovered quickly, in time for the next one!
As always if you are having any technical difficulty with your Zwift set up, visit the Support Forums for help.