Zwifting against Covid-19

2020 hasn’t turned out as any of us would have imagined on so many levels.

Back in February and March when the Covid-19 threat started to rise rapidly, I got worried. I’m an Asthmatic and Covid-19 appeared to be a respiratory disease. Each winter I get prescribed a flu-jab in the UK and that put me into a higher risk category. I can struggle enough with a bad chest cold, let alone something so much more dangerous.

So I started to worry about how my lungs might handle this deadly new virus and what I could do to help put myself in a better position in case the worst should happen.

Starting lockdown with a generally lower fitness level than I would have liked, I wondered what would be a good path forwards to gently boost my lung health or VO2 Max? That is, what could I do at moderate intensity to build my fitness without over stressing my general health and immune system.

The obvious answer for me was Zwift. I have a full set up in my garage with a Tacx Neo, an old big screen TV, an old PC with a decent graphics card and a large fan.

So in late March I resolved to ride an hour a day on Zwift, every day, at a moderate intensity. I decided that where possible I join group rides at up to around 2 Watts per kilo.

There are loads of these on Zwift – several every day. I’ve always been a big fan of the Zwift Pack Group rides as they’re popular, welcoming, inclusive and well led. So looking for the Pack logo in the Zwift companion app has been a daily activity for over 2 months now.

I even made a Youtube vlog about my indoor Covid-19 strategy journey:

Riding for an hour a day (on average) almost every day from late March has seen me cover nearly 2,500km on Zwift in not much more than 60 days.

I’ve finished my quest to get the Tron bike (the Zwift Everest challenge), I’ve started and finished the Tour of California challenge and for the first time ever I rode over 1,000km in a month.

It might sound like stating the obvious but if you ride for an hour a day in a 2w/kg group ride, you’ll cover around 30km depending on how hilly the route is. So over 30 days each month, you’re going to ride nearly 1,000km virtually.

I’m so much fitter than I was. This shouldn’t be a shock and it isn’t but my resting heart rate has come down to the mid 40s again. My legs have got their definition back and I feel generally stronger.

I’ve also got into the routine now. Everyday in late afternoon, early evening, I head out to the garage and ride on Zwift for an hour. It’s part of my daily ritual and my family are used to it as well.

I do feel a bit tired again but that’s about more than just the daily Zwifting. I’m also wondering about switching to a training plan again, in case the cyclo-cross season starts nearly on time. Regardless, I’ve thoroughly enjoyed this daily journey and it’s a great example of how to successfully set up habits.

By setting a simple goal that was achievable, I created the conditions to succeed. An hour a day after work – it’s been simpler than I thought and once you’re into the rhythm, you don’t want to break the streak. I’ve on missed one day since late March.

It’s been great though. Zwift has worked well for me, the Pack and other riders (like the Viking recovery rides on a Wednesday) have all been good fun. Admittedly you need a decent setup to help make things easy to enjoy and I’m fortunate that I do.

There have been a few more stories that have come out of this journey and I’ll write about them separately.

Thanks for reading