Most runners I know loathe the treadmill, I quite like it and I feel it helps reduce my reoccurring issues with shin splints as I can control the pace and incline better than outdoors.
However, when it comes to long runs, going beyond an hour becomes a mental struggle. Zwift has helped a lot for indoor cycling, and it is clearly a popular way of training for others. So I have been considering if this will help with treadmill running.
I run on the treadmill at the gym, there are several solutions that will work with Zwift, all of which are significantly cheaper than buying a treadmill. I will probably end up going with one of the affordable options which is what I was after in the first place, but I went down a rabbit hole of Swift Run devices so thought it would be good to document it, even if it is just for my own personal use in the future.
Affordable none treadmill devices
Treadmill Smart Speed App
If you can cope with having your phone attached to your arm while your run then the Treadmill Smart Speed app can broadcast speed, cadence and HR. This will also work with the Apple Watch avoiding the need to have your phone physically on you.
If you already have one of the newer Garmin Forerunner watches, you may require nothing else. Garmin rolled out a Virtual Run mode recently and the watch will broadcast heart rate, speed and cadence to Zwift using BLE. It may not be super accurate, but it is potentially a free way to get running in Zwift.
Milestone pod / Zwift Pod
The next cheapest is the milestone pod or Zwift Pod as it is more frequently called nowadays. This will be more accurate than a Garmin watch, and it is only £36.99. I found it to be a good investment in general, providing some additional insight into my running form.
Painfully expensive for what it is, but currently no other device competes with it. Stryd will give you accurate pace, power and cadence both indoors and outdoors as well as a bunch of other insightful data.
The problem with Stryd and the other options above is that they don’t do incline. I almost always run on a moderate incline to keep my pace down but effort up so it limits the usefulness of these for me.
North Pole Engineering Runn
A new option in the world of treadmills and it recently went live on the Zwift Store or alternatively direct from North Pole Engineering. However, they are US based so you will have to wait a while for delivery.
This is arguably the best solution out there because it can factor in incline while also being highly accurate, and much more affordable than Stryd.
The downside is that it attaches to the treadmill itself, so if you work out in the gym I imagine it will be a bit of a nuisance having to stick it to the gyms machines each time.
Zwift Compatible Treadmills in the UK
The cheapest solution would be to buy a well-reviewed but cheap treadmill then use the North Pole Engineering Runn for the smart functions. If you get lucky and find one near you, gyms often sell off old treadmills which will be superior to home orientated ones.
If you have deep wallets or are very committed to treadmill running at home, the following treadmills are listed by Zwift as being compatible.
These options are available to buy in the UK and are listed by Zwift as being supported
Zwift also warns that before purchasing a treadmill, make sure it’s the most recent model—BLE compatibility can vary from year to year.
This is a manual treadmill and uses no electricity, so I would advise to try before you buy.
The BXT116 and BXT216 also work and I imagine cheaper, but I can’t find UK stock.
- Motor: 3.75 CHP
- Speed: 0.8-20 km/h
- Incline: 0 – 15 %
The cheapest option. The S4, S6, S8 and S10 are also compatible, going up in specification and price, topping out with the S10 at £1,724.00 which has a 4HP motor, 1-22 km/h speed, and 0-12 % incline.
The S2 has:
- 2HP motor
- Speed: 1 – 16 km/h
- Incline: 0 – 12 %
T3 and T5 models work but they all must have the Track Connect Console rather than the go console
Not currently available
These tend to be commercial grade treadmills and you need to buy a separate module to get it working (North Pole Engineering sell them).
- Speed Range: 0.5 – 12 mph / 19.3 kph
- Incline Range: 0 – 12%
- Motor: 3.0 HP
Or the Xterra TRX4500 for £999 with:
- Speed Range: 0.5 – 12 mph / 19.3 kph
- Incline Range: 0 – 15%
- Motor: 3.25 HP
Last update on 2021-08-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API