10 Tips for Free Running on Zwift

10 Tips for Free Running on Zwift

ON 24 April 2019 by Zwift

Whether you are new to Zwift or a regular runner in game, free running is a great way to explore the various maps, try new routes, experiment with settings and test equipment. With no pressure to stay with a group or follow any instructions, it can be a relaxing and fun way to enjoy Zwift.

Here are 10 tips to help you get the most out of your free time on Zwift.

#1: Plan Your Run

While there’s no pressure with a free run, it’s a good idea to have a plan like you would for any run outdoors, even if the plan is that there’s no plan!

You might decide this is a recovery run or relaxed jog with no distance or time goal. You might decide you’re going to run a particular route or at a specific pace. Plans can change but it’s usually a good idea to start with one.

#2: Set a Target

If you have decided to run for a certain length of time, a certain distance, or at a particular heart rate, you can get Zwift to track that goal. On the main screen after you’ve logged in and paired your devices, you will see a circle with ‘Add a Target’ written inside. Click this and you can choose to run for, say, 60 minutes.

Once you start you’ll see the minutes ticking down on screen. You can target distance, time or heart rate.

#3: Change your Clothes

Why not head over to the User Customization menu for a new look? You’ll find it by clicking Menu>Garage. Browse the various combinations of kit and see what’s available. There’s even a slider for you to select how long your socks and shorts should be!

Along with clothing, you can choose different hairstyles and skin tones, allowing you to tailor your avatar quite specifically.

#4: Calibrate your Device

If you’re using a footpod it’s nice to see your avatar moving at the same speed in game as you are in real life on the treadmill. One way to achieve a more accurate reflection of your speed is to use the built-in Calibration Tool.

You’ll see wrench icon next to the Speed Source selector on the Pairing Screen.  Click that and you’ll be led through the stages to help match your Zwift speed to your treadmill display.

#5: Try a New Route

While it’s great to have the run-only routes in New York and Watopia, there are also hundreds of miles of shared roads (cycling and running), with some amazing scenery. Why not run in the center of the volcano or through the Mayan ruins on Watopia? Try going up to the top of Box Hill in London or take the glass roads above New York’s Central Park.

It’s easy to stick to the same routes over and over again, but when you have time, go exploring.

#6: Get a New Perspective

The standard Zwift camera view is facing forward from just behind your avatar. But did you know you can change this at the touch of a button? Press keys 1-9 on your keyboard or tap the camera icon on your iOS device to toggle the camera angles.

You can also activate ‘Drone View’ by pressing zero and sweep up, down, left and right using the arrow keys on your keyboard. Only do this if you’re walking at a slow pace! Read more at Zwift How-To: Changing Your Camera View.

#7: Earn Your Badges

There are various achievement badges to be earned in Zwift. Look in the menu and you’ll see a section called Badges.

Some will come automatically as you run, like running 5k or 10k in a single session. Others require a specific effort. There are a few easy gets, like giving three ‘Ride Ons’ or ‘Doing a U-Turn”. But you could also try getting the badge for running an 8 or 7-minute mile.

#8: Check Your Form

Outdoors you have a lot more to occupy your attention (traffic, tree roots, and navigation) but treadmill running is great for concentrating on form. Take a look at your posture and correct it if necessary. Think about your breathing. Examine your arm movement, foot placement, and head position.

All these things contribute to your efficiency as a runner. Good form increases efficiency and means energy is saved and can be utilized to help you run further, faster, and longer.

#9: Experiment with Kit

It’s a common saying in running, ‘Don’t try anything new on race day’. When running a race or taking part in a Group Workout you want to be comfortable and confident in what you’re wearing and with the gear you are using. Your Free Run on Zwift is the ideal time to try out new running kit, whether it’s a new pair of shoes, socks or a water bottle.

#10: Be Social

When you’re running hard in a race or a workout, it’s difficult to interact with those around you. But in a Free Run you can stop or walk, and you have time to press the ‘Ride On’ button next to another runner’s name. If it’s safe to do so, press M on the keyboard or press the message button in iOS and say hi to the person near you. Just like outdoors, Zwift is more fun when you’re a part of the community.

Follow these 10 tips and you’re sure to find your Zwift free running rewarding and enjoyable.


As always if you are having any technical difficulty with your Zwift setup, visit the Support Forums for help.