Thursday, 8 April 2010

Running with Nike+

Today I did my first run using the quite remarkable Nike+.  For those who don't know, Nike+ is a system of planning, tracking, and measuring runs while listening to your favourite -- or most motivational -- music.  To do this you need to buy a few things first:
  • An iPod Nano and Nike+ Sports Kit (which consists of an oval-shaped sensor and a rectangular receiver that connects to the iPod)
Alternatively, if you have an iPhone or iPod touch you only need to buy the sensor -- which is half the price on its own

Also, to make full use of Nike+ you can sign up to the Nike running website where you have the option to choose training programs, make a calorie/distance/speed goal, or compete with friends on the site.  I am currently trying a program that will train me to run a 5 km marathon within 3 months.

So far so good, but Nike still wants you to purchase more of its gear before you can actually hit the concrete:  a pair of Nike+ shoes please.  The only reason you need a special pair of trainers is because Nike (or someone in a sweatshop in China) have carved out a small oval-shaped hole in the left shoe under the innersole where the sensor sits (see below).

Of course, a quick look on Amazon will show you that if you already have a favourite pair of running shoes there are numerous pouches and holders that will adapt your shoes for the sensor.

Now you've got the gear, got the shoes, and signed up to the site.  Ready to go?  Not quite.  I personally find that the earphones supplied with iPods can fall out quite easily (as tested when running for buses, trains, planes, etc).  A good pair of speciality running earphones are probably in order.  I went for a pair of Sennheiser PMX 80 Sport headphones.  They loop around your ears and behind your head so they don't move at all when running.  After my first run today I can tell you they work perfectly, completely solid, no jittering, and crisp clear audio.

....and they're nice and yellow
 Surely there's nothing else to buy?  Well, maybe one more thing.  You need somewhere to put the iPod as you're bounding around the streets.  Placing it in a pocket could be OK, but the iPod is so small it could easily fall out if you don't have a zip.  The solution is either to hold it or buy an arm strap:

Can be bought for just a few £'s from eBay or Amazon

And that's it -- well, apart from the actual running!  As I mentioned earlier, today was my very first session using all of this newly bought technology.  I certainly felt like a runner, and I kind of looked like a runner, but after a few minutes on the road I literally thought I was going to die.  I just about managed to finish my target of 1.7 km, but I have no idea how I'm going to do the 3.2 km that's waiting for me on Saturday.  I did find the option of a "power song" (where you press the centre button on the iPod and it plays your most motivational song) helped for a short time when I started to lose power, and the inner-geek in me finds some motivation in uploading runs and keeping track of my progress.  Overall I am very impressed with how it works, and once it's all running, how easy it is to use. 

Here's hoping I'll still be alive to do 5 km in 3 months....

P.S.  Although it may look like it, I am not an employee of Nike or Amazon!!


Mabel said...

Go ahead, are you going to join any competition soon? Hey, you can also join the Stardard Chartered Hong Kong Marathon 2011 in HK if you have a chance to come later:

Hey, what kind of music do you listen when you go to run? I think you can listen to this one, then you will be full of power!

Chris said...

Hi Mabel, I won't be doing any competitions just yet. But I hope I could join a 5 km event after my 3 month program is up. We'll see how it goes....

I'd take any excuse to come to HK, maybe I will do it :o)

Thanks for the motivational track too, I'll try and download it and see how it feels on the road. I never thought of trying Mozart for running before!

periwinkle said...

Hi Chris,

I have followed your blog since you were in China, and was pleasantly surprised when google reader told me you had updated after such a long hiatus!

Have you heard of the Couch to 5k running program? It really helped me when I first started running. At the beginning, it does feel like you are going to die, but hang in there!

Chris said...

Hi Periwinkle, thank you for your comment! I'm so glad you kept me on your google reader. Thanks for checking back again too :o)

I have heard of the Couch to 5k running program. I was thinking of going for that also. It might be better for me than jumping in at the deep end actually, I found the first two runs with the Nike+ a nightmare (I'm ignoring when it tells me to do 3.2km at the moment, just sticking with 1.7 though). I'll have a look back on it.

Glad to hear it worked for you! Do you do much running now?