Zwift Pod Review (Reviewed as Milestone Pod)
This Zwift Pod Review includes a brief overview and a more detailed look at the differing aspect of the POD.
The Zwift POD has been around for a few years. It is now on its third hardware iteration and has moved on considerably from it’s first appearance as a souped-up shoe mileage tracker.
It currently has: some rather clever nuances; interesting levels of accuracy; and a low price tag. Q3.2017 looks to see some of the running metrics being broadcast over Bluetooth that are currently (10July2017) only visible ‘after-the-fact’ on the Milestone app.
WHAT IS IT?
It’s a low-cost running gait pod for Bluetooth Low Energy devices which include: Polar V800, M400 and M430; Suunto Ambit3 and SPARTAN; Garmin Fenix 5 and 935 series. Interestingly it also work with ZWIFT RUN, STRAVA and several other running apps.
WHAT DO YOU GET?
It’s a footpod that is powered by a CR2032 battery and is easily transferable between shoes.
The free companion app tracks your shoe mileage and gives you various bits of feedback on your runs.
You can even subscribe to personalised feedback which, after your run, comes in the form of an email giving you tips on how to, for example, improve your ground contact time.
HOW DO YOU USE IT?
Pretty simply you just attach it on to your running shoes by going over two laces; pair to your watch/app and run. There are no buttons to press.
As you run, you look at the ‘standard’ data on your 3rd party app or supported watch. Additionally, or instead, you synchronise with the MILESTONE app when you get back home to delve deeper into the running data.
WHAT DATA DO YOU GET?
You get these standard metrics: cadence; ground contact time; duration; and distance/stride length/pace. These are the only ones that your Bluetooth sports watch MIGHT be able to display and interpret.
You also get: footstrike (mid, fore, heel); rate of impact; leg swing; and the proprietary RUNFICIENCY metric on the app.
The app has some straightforward and nice charts showing how stride-length, GCT, cadence and RUNFICIENCY all vary with PACE.
The RUNFICIENCY metric is a composite of the other metrics and is actually good at focussing the mind on improvement. Much more so than knowing your GCT is 218ms…what would that mean to you?
IS THE DATA ‘CORRECT’
Anecdotally it seems in line with some of the comparable metrics on Garmin Connect and it generally agrees with my view of myself as a runner.
For example, it says I could swing my ankle higher and that my RUNFICIENCY is 88% – I’d agree with that. However, it sometimes says I heel- and mid-strike approximately equally and, on those occasions, I would say that was wrong and that I fore and mid-strike approximately 20:80 when ‘fresh’ (and the wear on the sole of my running shoes would agree with me on that analysis) – the accuracy of the footstrike categorisation does seem to vary somewhat from run-to-run.
DISTANCE – INSTANT PACE ACCURACY
After my first runs I can’t be definitive. However the distance recorded seems reasonable even when uncalibrated. Others report ‘GOOD’ accuracy when calibrated…I’ll withhold judgement on that for a while.
When comparing INSTANT PACE on one watch with that on another watch worn at the same time there is a clear improvement over basic GPS-derived instant pace. The instant pace from the Zwift Pod seems broadly in line with a Garmin footpod, maybe a bit better. It does not seem as accurate as STRYD – which often seems ‘spot on’ but, of course, carries a significantly higher price tag. Let’s see later what further calibration brings.
TIPS + TIDBITS
- The ‘trick’ to get instant pace from the pod is to use your watch’s menus to configure the paired pod as the only source of speed/distance (ie as if you were running indoors without GPS). You should still get your usual GPS track of your run to admire once you’ve finished.
- If you are a runner who runs by miles in the bag, then you can leave your watch at home and just use the POD, the data is cached and synchronised later.
- As-of 10July 2017 you will need the BETA firmware to get the functionality I describe in this post. You can get this enabled if you email your device’s unique MAC address (it’s on the box) to Milestone’s support desk: email@example.com.
- Run detection is automatic and based on an increase in cadence to over 140spm.
- The device seems to work with placement on any position on the laces. Other comments note a high position is best away from the toe.
- The app has a data export option to a spreadsheet for those of you who want to play with the numbers. Data export is not really needed for people running ‘normally’.
- Calibration is done on the app and the calibration value is then saved to the POD. Thus, when used on a sports watch, no calibration is required and any calibration factor on the watch should be set to 1.000 .To calibrate, you run a known distance and then enter the ‘correct’ distance in the app against the recorded distance. It’s probably best to repeat this a few times and varying speeds.
- It will and does pair to the Garmin Fenix 5 series and the Garmin 935 as they support Bluetooth Low Energy Sensors.
- The app estimates and displays battery status
- The app automatically prompts to update firmware when it’s available.
- Pairing and syncing to Android work for me but sometimes repeated attempts were made eg to upgrade the firmare
- The app handles multiple pods each belonging to a shoe pair until the pair are ‘retired’.
- When the LED turns RED it’s time to buy some new shoes 😉
Here are two slide shows.
The first shows some of the screens on the app. They are nice and simple and have, very much, a parkrun-aesthetic about them. The general flow and cleanness of the app is good.
The second slideshow shows some images of the ZWIFT POD pairing to various watches – I’d still refer you to the link at the start of this post that shows the officially supported watches. I have not fully tested the ZWIFT with all of these watches. All those listed as supported seemed to pair except the Polar M400 which did not seem to want to play ball.
It’s a cool little device.
Even as a basic footpod, for pace and cadence, the price makes it a ‘no-brainer’.
BUT you also get a neat gait-analysis app thrown in AND you get what looks to be a fairly accurate pace sensor – certainly ‘usable’ unlike the GPS on your watch for ‘instant’ pace.
To track shoe mileage you really need one POD per shoe pair. At $20 I’d do that but I might think twice at £30.
Personally, I prefer to use STRYD for a few other reasons but STRYD is notably more expensive. I would say that I ALWAYS use a pod when I want to run to certain pace targets, most notably in shorter intervals. I used to use Garmin pods (I think I have 3) but STRYD has weaned me off Garmin and my recent semi-conversion to Suunto & Polar has forced me to use a Polar STRIDE sensor because of Bluetooth. I guess I’d have no problems using the Zwift POD there and superficially the Zwift POD might even be more accurate.
- For super accuracy with running pace and running power go for STRYD
- For ‘pro’ gait metrics go for RUNSCRIBE PRO.
- For more interactive run coaching go for SHFT
PRICE, DISCOUNT and AVAILABILITY
Prices tend to hover up to around US$/Eu/£30 and there is generally good stock although it did seem to sell out in May/June 2017.
For the UK and Europe, I partner with the retailer New Running Gear you can get a 10% discount on most things by using the code TFK10 directly with their site as you would with any other online coupon or online promotion.