Virtual reality in running training

The vast majority of people who run do so outdoors, it is one of the attractions of this sport. The treadmill is used more out of obligation, when conditions do not allow running, than out of personal choice.

But that tedious procedure in the gym or at home can become a much more enjoyable and fun experience thanks to a very modern ingredient: virtual reality.

Running with virtual reality

That new technologies have conquered our daily life is an incontestable reality. “Virtuality” affects all aspects of our lives, from the most trivial to the most intimate. Of course, sport also has its dose of technology, and it is also a good dose.

Sport takes advantage of new technologies, and new technologies take advantage of sport. Today, video games have taken the competitive form of traditional sports. The so-called electronic sports or e-Sports have hundreds of millions of followers around the world and it is expected that by 2020 they will invoice more than 1,100 million dollars. We see another example in sports predictions; The latest in the betting sector is virtual sports, competitions that are directly generated by the computer.

Similarly, traditional sport borrows features from video games. Virtual reality is a cross between the physical and the digital, a combination that can be used very well in practices such as running.

Actually, you do the same thing: run. But it adds an extra motivation that is very grateful. Virtual reality allows you to imagine that you are running anywhere in the world and even recreates the conditions that you would find there. In addition, it allows you to compete or share the experience with other people, even if you don’t move from your house. In short, that social component and contact with our environment that is so important when going out for a run is recreated.

What do you need?

The equipment you need for a virtual reality running training depends on how immersive you want the experience to be and how much you want to spend.

We think of virtual reality and those huge glasses that put us completely in another world come to mind. Of course, you can run with these glasses, and there are even treadmills that have protection so you don’t fall if you get too into that pixelated universe. But the truth is that this type of applications and equipment are usually directed either to simply play, or to do research with elite athletes. Normally, virtual reality is limited to the simulation of paths that we can follow through a screen.

Here we find platforms like Zwift, an application designed for indoor training for runners, triathletes and cyclists. You will need a device where you can download it (computer, tablet, mobile, etc.) and a “foot pod”, a small device that you wear on your foot and collects a large number of data about your training. You will also need an adapted treadmill, which connects to the foot pod or can connect to it and to the device you use via bluetooth.

Zwift allows you to run around New York, compete with other users, and record a lot of data about your training with great precision, among other things. But there are also simpler options.

Applications like iFit allow you to have personalized and interactive training that focuses more on the physical part and not so much on the social and playful aspects as Zwift does.


It is clear that running outdoors is not the same as running imagining that you are outdoors. Now, when there is no choice but to stay home, virtual reality is a great ally.


All those stimuli that you receive when you go for a run in the countryside or the city, are lost when you lock yourself inside four walls. Simulators offer us a large number of virtual scenarios – some real, others invented – that will help make the experience much more fun and enjoyable.


It may not be for everyone, but for many, adding an element of competition to training can be a great boost.

Virtual reality applications for running allow us to be connected with other runners and compete with them.

Even the results of these virtual competitions are moving into the real world. Zwift, which comes from the world of video games, has launched a worldwide competition to get a place in the next London Marathon .

In addition, the competition can be with oneself. This type of platform allows us to collect a lot of data about our training. This information will help us to see our progress, which, without a doubt, is a plus of motivation.


As we said, virtual reality or online training equipment allows us to record a large number of data about our performance. This helps us keep better control of our training plans and more easily detect any errors or areas where we can improve.