Like most sports enthusiasts who pursue an outdoor activity, runners tend to find themselves at the mercy of two things that adults rarely have any control over: free time and the weather.

You could run on a treadmill, but if you’re used to running outdoors, especially in the company of friends, this can seem a little dull. The good news is that there is a solution to this on the horizon, one that uses technology to combine the best bits of running outdoors and the convenience of the treadmill, and, in this article, we’ll be breaking it down for you.

Running in a Virtual Environment

While virtual reality (VR) running might seem a little sci-fi, the reality is that the concept of VR sports has been around for a while now like the existence of indoor golf simulators, flight simulators and more. Apps like VZfit, VirZoom, and the one you’ve probably heard of, Zwift, have been allowing cyclists to ride in VR environments for the last couple of years, and Zwift, along with other app developers, have recently turned their VR cycling experience towards creating a VR running app.

So what are the benefits of running with a VR headset on?

It’s a Great Training Option

Training schedules, unlike just running for fun, tend to be quite tight. Real-life is always conspiring to get in the way and you might find you just don’t have the time to get to your favorite running space.

Using VR is a great way to keep yourself motivated. As we’ve mentioned, you can run with a group or partner who can keep you committed and make sure you stick to your established training regime. Even if you’re just using running as a way to work out, and it is a great way to stay fit, then using VR can make treadmill running more engaging than staring at a wall.

While running as a sport has yet to fully adopt VR as an indoor training facility, its use in cycling has already been fully realized and integrated into the sport to such an extent that is has become part of the competitive scene.

The combination of turbo trainers and VR equipment has expanded the sport of cycling into the virtual realm, allowing cyclists from all over the world to compete without the stresses of travel. It is a rapidly growing version of the sport that is already getting attention from fans, pundits and major sports betting operators like Betway.

RT Virtual Runs presents: Yarra Flats, Melbourne | 92min Run

Cost and Convenience

Because of their rising popularity with video gamers, VR headsets have become far more widely available than they used to be and are far cheaper than you might think. You could pick up a Google Cardboard for around $10 though it’s not going to be comfortable. However, you can get a comfortable headset for around $30 these days, which isn’t going to break the bank.

You’ll also need a treadmill, although there’s nothing saying you can’t use the ones at the gym, and, most importantly, you’ll want a great pair of running shoes. You are going to need to attach a Bluetooth running pod to them so your chosen app knows that your feet are moving.

Once you’ve got your kit in place, using it is as easy as putting on the headset and jumping on the treadmill. It doesn’t matter if you’ve got 15 minutes or 50, or what the weather is like outside.

It’s Communal

One of the massive benefits of using a VR app is that anyone can use it anywhere and at any time. This means you could be running with people from across the globe.

If you’re part of a running club and you can’t make it out together then you can join up in VR. You won’t be doing a lot of chatting, but who really chats when they’re running anyway. People can drop in and drop out depending on their availability.

If you’re not in a running club, but like running in a group, you can join one online and run with new friends from around the world.