Milestone looks like a simple running foot pod, but that provides loads of in-depth data on your running technique. But more importantly perhaps, is a very reasonably priced way of getting into Zwift Running. #ZwiftGearTest for one, please!
MilestonePod Running Pod Review – Zwift Running at Low Cost – #ZwiftGearTest
As the Zwiftcast’s interview with Jon Mayfield recently revealed, it *feels* like Zwift Running may soon be coming out of “hobby status” and into a full-blown, mainstream Zwift feature. Given the amount of work the guys at ZwiftHQ are putting into things – have a listen to this extract of Simon’s always silky voice.
Zwift creator Jon Mayfield discusses the future of running on Zwift. This is an extract from a long conversation with Jon which will be published soon as a Zwiftcast Special.
Posted by Zwiftcast on Sunday, April 16, 2017
To get Zwift running, up and well running, you need to be able to communicate to Zwift your pace. The two products at the current extremes of the Zwift Running kit scale are the Stryd foot pod, coming in at £199, and then Treadmill Smart Speed phone app which comes in at a distinctly more palatable £4.99, but with the need to wear a phone armband
The MilestonePod foot pod comes in closer towards the bottom end of the scale, at £26.74 from Amazon, making it the cheapest hardware option for getting into Zwift Running. However the Milestone is far from a dumb foot pod and is clearly setup to help you learn more about your running style, so you’re are going to get a wealth of information from this little device. In fact, the only major thing it can’t do is power when running. If I were a rival foot pod manufacturer, I’d be wondering how they hit their price point!
So let’s take a closer look at the MilestonePod Footpod!
The MilestonePod arrives in a small, black, svelte box, which opens up to reveal the pod nestled on an orange background.
So what do you get in the box? You’ve the MilestonePod in itself, quick start guide, a little Milestone sticker, and a Cr2032 battery
The actual MilestonePod is quite small, a subtle “M” on the centre. There is a slight texturing to the lower portion of the device, which breaks up the otherwise plain black plastic. Overall the MilestonePod is a very unassuming package, which will quickly disappear when you attached the pod on your shoe, especially if they are dark in colour…unlike my yellow Nikes!
The back of the unit twists off to allow your shoe laces pass through, and is then secured by turning the back plate to get a “click”. The click sound is something the company refer to several times in the app, and their literature generally, to ensure that the user ensures that the unit doesn’t come detached
The MilestonePod lace openings initially appear a little small, but I had to, apply more pressure to attach the unit to Salomon cable laces, than regular flat, but thicker, shoelaces!
Regarding other foot pods which can get you connected to on Zwift Running, the MilestonePod is just slightly larger than the Stryd foot pod, especially in depth, but is considerably more svelte than the gargantuan Polar S3 foot pod.
SO with the foot pod installed, time to test things out!
Specifications and Metrics
- Battery life: 6-8 months of use per battery change
- Battery: CR2032
- Communications: BlueTooth Smart
- Weight: 13g with battery
- Water resistance: IPX 67
- Storage: The Milestone foot pod can store about 20hrs of run/walk data before you need to sync
- Auto detects run: Once cadence passes 100 SPM for >6mins, the Pod will start to record, and include those previous six mins of activity. Conversely when doing <100SPM for >6mins the pod will call the run over
Milestone has a quick start manual which can be found HERE
- Rate of impact
- Distance & Duration
- Odometer (shoe mileage)
- Stride Length
- Ground Contact
- Runficiency score
- Leg swing
- Foot strike
There are a lot of devices available on the market that can detect and measure a boat load of metrics from your various activities. But these measures metrics frequently that read like a marketing check list, not least because the end user isn’t really given any support in understanding these new-fangled numbers. This is one area I’m pleased to say that the MilestonePod, and the company behind it, is quite different – the app provides you lots of assistance to get the best out of the data collected
On which note, let’s see what the MilestonePod is like on the run!
Using the MilestonePod
Once installed, you need to connect your pod to your smartphone
With the MilestonePod connected, you can name your black dot whatever you desire. There is a clear marketing reason for this, given the low cost at which the MilestonePod has been pitched, it is hoped that you’ll actually buy a pod for multiple pairs of trainers, such as both for your gym shoes and your running shoes – hence personal naming
During the setup, you are asked to fill in the information regarding the shoe you are using. Not merely the shoe type, but brand model and size.
I was genuinely amazed at the HUGE range of shoes the Milestone has in their database, quickly finding my Nikes
Final setup involves telling Milestone who you are, and a few personal stats, in order to allow the app enough information to correctly calculate your running metrics
With the app primed, the Milestone paired, and shoes identified, it is off for a run!
Running with the MilestonePod
Currently, the main functionality of the pod is focused to autodetecting your run, (which we’ll come to shortly) and recording the data generated during said run. You are then able to review this data after your run, this is an important point, as the Milestone does not currently ship with live monitoring -i.e. no data visible during the ride. Part of this is reflected in the onboard memory, and that the Milestone Footpod can be used entirely without your phone, and the GPS within during run. That said, it is worthwhile to occasionally take your phone, or a GPS watch, with you on a run to assist the MilestonePod with distance calibration.
In order to calibrate, when you have returned from the run, load up the Milestone app, sync, then view your last run. If you look at the run details, you can “tap to calibrate” in the top LEFT.
From here you can input the distance calculated from your GPS, or treadmill tracking to increase the accuracy of the MilestonePod on your next run. It is important to calibrate your unit as soon as you can, as out of the box, the Milestone is approximately 93-95% accurate – which tallies with the 5KM treadmill run done below, which was recorded as 5.18km by Milestone.
The Milestone app allows you to get additional benefits of the MilestonePod beyond the usual metrics of speed and cadence you get from many foot pods. This data can be accessed in two ways. Firstly visible within the run details, where you can see your various running metrics from that activity, while critically explaining what they mean.
Across the bottom of the activity details, are three additional pages for foot strike, graphs and laps, which allow you to view your results in different ways, with suggestions on how to use the data to improve
The graphs tab allows your to visualise how your pace relates to four metrics, cadence, stride length, GCT, and Runficiency; all focused on helping you to understand how to get to a faster pace
I do like the Foot Strike data, but as you can see, I’m not doing too well at converting to midfoot running! But hopefully with a little concentration on my running form, I’ll manage to adjust, and that will hopefully reduce my knee pain when running! It would be good to be able to see THESE two metrics on the fly, either to the app, or broadcast to a running watch.
If you want to look more generally at what the three core metrics of cadence, ground contact time, and stride length mean, you can use the “insights” tab on the home screen of the app to select a metric to focus on. Whereupon MileStone will send you periodic emails to improve on your selected parameter.
Personally, I think this subtle education is one of the best features of the MilestonePod. I’m sure that there are many people who have devices with a broad range of metrics that don’t fully understand either what the metric means, or how it relates to the athlete. Any product that helps inform as well as measure is going to get a thumbs up from me!
So, it’s clear that the MilestonePod is good at recording, and then giving access your data, but how does it Zwift, and doesn’t that require live data?
Zwift Running with Milestone Pod – Zwift Gear Test
The key thing for running with Zwift and a foot pod is that the foot pod must have BlueTooth (check) and be able to broadcast live (semi-check). What I mean by that is currently the MilestonePod records you run, and then lets you have a look at the data after. The way recording is done, is by having the unit looking for 6 min >100SPM, and recording from there – crucially this isnt live data, so how do we use Zwift?
In Dec 2016 Milestone added live pod metrics as a beta firmware update – which didn’t work very well for me when I first received the pod, no idea why. I could connect to Zwift, but didnt seem to get live data, or when it did broadcast, seemed to get stuck – sad face
However, in Feb 2017, an update to the beta firmware was pushed out which not only allowed me to finally run on Zwift! Huzzah
Everything works exactly as you would expect on the general running front. You connect the foot pod as your running sensor, attach your heart rate monitor, set your treadmill, and head off around Watopia.
One thing to note, due to the lack of running with power, the triathlon workouts which include running sections are not really any use to MilestonePod users.
Save for this, the Milestone Pod worked well on Zwift running:
- No drop outs,
- The slight lag of maybe 1-2 seconds between me changing pace and the avatar responding.
- Very accurate speed estimation (comparing to the treadmill) – treadmill set at 10.7km/hr – with Zwit putting that at 10.85km/hr after conversion of pace
So there we have it. The MilestonePod provides a very simple way of getting an excellent, “fire and forget” hardware option for running on Zwift. With many cherries on top as well when you head otuside as well!
MilestonePod Zwift firmware remains in beta. I don’t currently have information as to when it will be updated to the main firmware, however, the company has a very open policy on the beta, and have it for public release.
The live data firmware registration, essentially the MilestonePod Zwift beta firmware, has a
user request page available here
The general lack of live data from the MilestonePod is probably the devices biggest weakness. However, that is more than cancelled out by the fact it costs LESS THAN £30!!!
You have a battery life measured in multiple months. If you have been that lazy and not been for a run in 6 months, well shame on you! But seriously, there is no faffing waiting for the recharge if you do find a flat battery, just swap the coin cell and head out
The fact that the MilestonePod can be used with Zwift, and for such a low price point is utterly astounding to me. They could have produced a black box, which allowed reasonable accuracy on Zwift running, and I’d have still said “Great device!” Given the shown accuracy for speed and distance when on Zwift, all the additional information, and how this might improve your running as well, I have no hesitation in giving the MilestonePod 5/5, AND a TitaniumGeek Recommend!