Saturday, June 19, 2010

Nike+ Running System explained.

Earlier this year (somewhere in January 2010), I purchased the Nike+ system to keep track of my running and I have become addicted to it ever since. It has motivated me to run more and enjoy running at the same time.

Let me be clear. Nike+ system does not assist you in running. That is entirely all up to you. The system just records the distance that you run and allows you to keep track of your daily progress on the official Nike site. You can also join online challenges with other Nike+ runners, which in turn, motivates you in your running goals.

This official video from Nike+ explains how the system works.


1. The Sensor. The Sensor is a sort of a pedometer - though a highly sophisticated one. It is very accurate in detecting the pace, and distance run. When I do 10K run, the difference between the distance reported by the treadmill and the sensor is perhaps less than 100 meters. If you feel there is a problem in computing the distance, the sensor can be very easily calibrated.  Ideally, you should purchase Nike+ shoes that have a special pouch in the insole where the sensor sits comfortably. I have the Nike+ Bowerman series shoes that I find very comfortable for long distance running. I'll write about running shoes in another article.

If you don't want to use Nike+ shoes, you can use any regular running shoes, and place the sensor on the laces by using a simple strap-on pouch like this one from Marware. Some people just tie the sensor in a small plastic bag and tie it around the laces. My recommendation would be the Nike+ shoes.

2. The Receiver: This is where it gets a little complicated because there are different options available depending on your style of running. If you like to listen to music and also keep track of your running, then you need to buy either a iPhone 3GS, iPod Touch or iPod Nano. If you have an iPhone 3GS or an iPod Touch then you are good to go as the receiver is already built inside these 2 devices. You do not need anything further. However, if you want to go the iPod Nano route, then you need a separate receiver called the "Nike+ iPod Sports Kit". If you buy the sports kit, then you don't need the sensor, as it is bundled inside the kit.

If you don't want to listen to music while running,  you can buy the Nike+ Sports band that is sold by Nike. The sports band also comes bundled with the sensor so there is no need to buy the sensor separately.

So in Summary:
   1. If you have the iPhone 3GS or iPod touch, you need to buy the sensor.
   2. For iPod Nano, you buy the Nike+ iPod Sports Kit.
   3. For Nike+ Sports band, everything is bundled inside and you don't need anything else.

3. Start Running. Once you link your sensor to your device, you can start running. I use the iPhone 3GS for my runs, because it helps me to listen to music and also attend to the phone in case someone calls me up. Once I finish with the running, just upload the run data on your computer and it will automatically sync with the Nike running site

I am not a fan of the flash-heavy website, but it gets the job done. They also have a mobile optimized website that automatically shows up if you browse using a mobile device.

The website keeps track of all your runs and you can check your total runs, average running pace, calories burned etc. You can set targets (for example 100 kilometers in 1 month), and try to achieve the targets and earn medals.

The system has helped me keep fit and I highly recommend it to anyone who wants to stay motivated in running.

Adidas has recently come up with their miCoach system, which is a more sophisticated version of the Nike+ system as it uses the heart rate monitor to better keep track of your running. I haven't tried it since I am addicted to the Nike+ system, and Nike has recently countered the miCoach with a heart rate monitor that integrates with the Nike+ system, so I will most likely buy that when it becomes available on Amazon.

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