Guest author, Taggart VanEtten, is the 100-mile treadmill world record holder, a Zwift level 50 cyclist and a Zwift level 21 runner. Having run THOUSANDS of miles on his Matrix treadmill connected to Zwift, an online, interactive training and racing platform, we knew Taggart would be the perfect guest author for the topic: How to Run on Zwift!
Running in the worlds on Zwift can help you pass time on the treadmill. Believe me ─ I’ve run 2,432 miles on my Matrix T75 treadmill (the similar T70 model is available outside North America) while running on Zwift! Zwift touts itself as the app that makes indoor training fun. In this blog post I hope to help you improve your treadmill experience and share tips on how you can make your treadmill training fun.
Prepare to sweat…a lot
Before starting any run on your Matrix treadmill, I recommend strategically placing a few fans around you. There’s no bigger demotivator than being overheated on the treadmill.
In front of the treadmill, I place a 20-inch metal box fan pointing at me. Then either on the right or left side, I place a second fan. Metal fan blades have a better cooling effect than plastic fan blades.
Make sure you either have a sweat towel nearby or a sweatband on your forehead. I go with the sweatband.
Before running on your Matrix treadmill, prepare one to two 20-ounce water or nutrition bottles and place them in your treadmill’s water bottle holders because it’ll warm up. If you’re going long (over 60 minutes), have a few gels and salt tablets nearby, too.
Pro tip: Place a chair next to your treadmill to set your second fan up off the floor so the air is hitting your entire body from the center.
Pro tip: If the heat is on in your house, turn the temperature down as low as it comfortably can be on the thermostat. It will make a big difference as your body quickly heats up.
Pro tip: The water bottle holders on the Matrix treadmill are removable! Sometimes I find myself with a mess after my long workouts from gels and salt. Simply pop out the bottle holders, wash them out in the sink and dry them. They’re as good as new.
Setting up and connecting to Zwift
If you aren’t already a Zwift member, you can try it out with a free seven-day trial membership.
I like to run Zwift on my Apple iPad. I place my tablet in the treadmill tablet holder and hook up via HDMI to the back of the console. This casts the game to my treadmill’s large XUR high-definition screen.
Watch Video: Matrix Touchscreen Consoles: How to Use the HDMI App
There are a few ways to connect your workout data to Zwift. The easiest way is to pair the treadmill directly via Bluetooth FTMS.
The new Matrix treadmills all come with Bluetooth FTMS to connect to third party training apps. It’s easy to connect the treadmill to Zwift. Open the Zwift app and select Run / Run Speed - Tap to Pair.
On a touchscreen console, go into Settings and select Device Pairing / FTMS. Select the machine name on your Zwift app and you’ll be paired.
On an XR console, follow the same Zwift app steps. The console will automatically pick up the Bluetooth signal from your device. Select the machine name on your Zwift app and you’ll be paired. The blue light on the console’s Bluetooth button will light up, indicating the treadmill is connected.
Watch Video: Matrix XR Consoles: Bluetooth Device Pairing
Another fun set-up option
I have a flat screen television mounted on the wall in front of my treadmill. Sometimes, instead of hooking my iPad up via HDMI to the XUR console, I will AirPlay to the TV instead. However, I am still using the console. After the AirPlay is started, I open the Spotify app on my treadmill and blast my favorite running playlists through my treadmill’s speakers while watching Zwift on the TV.
My favorite Zwift routes
I would say the most popular route for runners and cyclists would be Tempus Fugit. The road is 12.4 miles with about 100 feet of vertical gain. I run here 90% of the time when I’m on Zwift.
Another great route is the Mayfield Track. Just like your normal outdoor track, this is a 400-meter oval and it’s just for runners. Mayfield is where I ran my 100-mile treadmill world record!
My third favorite course is Sleepless City in the Makuri Islands world. This world has a nighttime urban vibe. If I run on Zwift twice per day, I’m here in the afternoons.
Pro tip: The longer the route is, the fewer runners and cyclists you’ll likely see on the course. I always run on routes that are full of people cycling and running. This helps me stay motivated and entertained on my runs. Just like running outdoors, it’s more fun when there are people around!
The best time to Zwift
I live in the United States in Central Standard Time. I find the best time to run on Zwift is before work in the mornings between 5:00 and 8:00 AM. The second-best time is in the afternoons between 4:00 and 6:00 PM. And the third-best time would be for those lucky few who can get on Zwift during lunch.
My running workouts
For my workouts, I warm up for two to three miles at 8─8.5 MPH on my treadmill. I will then hop off, change shoes, take a restroom break, make sure I have all my nutrition, then get on the treadmill for my workout session. I use the running time clock on Zwift to guide me for time, while my treadmill dictates the speed.
After your run, be sure to have a microfiber towel and your fitness equipment cleaning spray ready. I use one part Dawn dish soap to 20 parts water. Shake the bottle, spray into the microfiber towel, then wipe down your treadmill.
Watch Video: Matrix Treadmill Maintenance
Find a training app that motivates you, turn on your favorite tunes, stay cool with a couple of well-placed fans, keep the sweat off yourself, hydrate and fuel along the way, and get that run done!
Connect with me
Once you’ve entered the world of Zwift, download the Zwift Companion app to search for events, track your stats and find friends. Search for Taggart VanEtten and follow me so we can exchange Ride Ons!
Still have questions about running on Zwift? Send me a DM on Twitter!
About the Author
Taggart VanEtten, 100-Mile Treadmill World Record Holder, USA
In 2021, Taggart VanEtten broke the 100-mile treadmill record in 11:32:05 on a Matrix treadmill. He has logged thousands of miles on his T75 Treadmill with XUR console (the similar T70 model is available outside North America). Our engineering team has been working with Taggart to collect data from his treadmill for product testing purposes with a remote monitoring system. Rest assured, he has found the treadmill bulletproof and able to withstand his intense training efforts. Taggart’s trains with 70% of his weekly mileage run on his treadmill.