7 Minute Miles

Nike + iPod

Posted Friday, August 4th, 2006 04:37 pm GMT -6 in Running, Technology

The new Nike + iPod kit is now available and I picked one up at the Mall of America Apple Store this week. At $29 (plus another $29 for a nano armband), it’s a great value when compared to the other options for tracking distance and pace. Others have said you don’t need to have Nike + shoes to use the kit, but I needed a new pair of running shoes anyway, so I picked up a pair of Nike + compatible Air Max 180s from Foot Locker. They are very comfortable, but the first pair I got split a seam after a five mile run the first night. So far the replacements have been fine.

Installation and set up of the kit is simple. You remove the liner of the left shoe and replace the placeholder plug with the shoe transmitter. The iPod dongle receiver plugs into the bottom of the nano and after a quick sync, you are ready to start a workout. A new menu item called Nike + iPod appears in the top nano menu and you can enter your weight in the settings sub-menu to better calculate calorie burn rate. The nano needs the newest firmware update and you need iTunes version 6.0.5 or later. That version displays a new Nike + iPod tab in the iPod settings menu that allows you to enter your login information for the new Nike + website. There is also a check-box to automatically allow the information from your runs to be sent to your Nike + account when you dock the nano.

Once I was comfortable with the setup, armband and cord situation (which reminds me–I’d really love some wireless iPod earbuds), the system is incredibly cool to use. You can pick from several kinds of workouts: basic, distance, time or calories. I’ve been using distance so far, which has a number of presets and the ability to set a custom distance as well. You select a playlist you want to use (or just shuffle songs) and away you go.

During your run, a soothing, human-sounding voice gives you periodic updates. You can choose either male or female and the female voice provides just the right amount of inspiration for me. In my runs so far, you get an update at each mile or kilometer, the half-way point and the last few 100m marks. At any time during the run, you can press the center nano button to hear the remaining mileage, the total elapsed time and your estimated pace. Typical Apple touches include a nice fade-in and fade-out during announcements and a surprise speaker when you set a new personal best. At the end of your workout, a spoken summary of the run is presented and you can either press menu to end the workout or continue to record mileage during your cool-down period.

Afterwards, plugging the nano into the dock sends all of the details of the run to an excellent Flash-based site (I never thought I’d write that about a Flash, but it’s really good). Each run is plotted out with a nice animation and mouse-overs show each split time. Personal bests are automatically recorded and your total mileage, average pace and calorie burn are displayed at the top of the main page. You can set up goals that are tracked just like a telethon–I currently have a goal to run 100 miles in the next 4 weeks. The site also allows you to challenge another member to race, wherever they may be located. Both people run, then sync and the winner is declared.

So far I’m very happy with my purchase. It provides enough geek factor to get me interested in training again. It also makes it much, much easier to stay on top of my progress. It may also make me a faster runner, as I know when I get home the data will be updated and tracked. Twin Cities is only two months away–if this isn’t my best marathon, I’m not sure what’s left to try…DK

Originally published by DK on August 4, 2006 at 4:37 pm

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