You’ve seen the ads, commercials, and read about it in online news and blogs. But does the Nike + iPod Sport Kit live up to the hype?
Before you start using the device, you need to calibrate the sensor. There is a menu option for this and it allows you to pick your distance. Either map out a very accurate distance or run on a track, and when finished with the distance you end the calibration. According to Nike, the sensor is only about 90 percent accurate if you do not calibrate and that can make a big difference over the miles. Once calibrated, that figure becomes 98 percent and you are ready to go.
In my calibration run I chose one mile for the distance. Upon finishing my mile I stopped the calibration and the system had recorded that I had run 1.1 miles so it was off by exactly the estimated 10 percent. However, when I ran my second mile (just back to where I started), the system reported my distance as 1.01 miles so was quite a bit more accurate from my pre-calibration run. I have used my Nike+ on five to six runs since calibrating it, and from my estimates it is very close to the 98 percent accuracy range.
Essentially, the system tells you your overall distance covered, current pace, time, and calories burned. Once you plug your nano (the system only works with an iPod nano) into your computer you can upload your data to www.nike.com/nikeplus/. This site has additional features that allows you to review workouts, check your records, set goals, and even create challenges with other Nike+ users anywhere in the world.
The device is currently missing a heart rate monitor and split times along with other things you’d expect to find in a basic running watch. In order to later check your stats for a particular point in your run, you need to push the center iPod button, which does two things—creates a data point for future reference, and gives you a verbal announcement in your earbuds as to your current pace, time, and distance.
The Web site is fun and has some great little charts of your runs. However, it lacks the capability for you to name your runs, list what shoes you were wearing, and some other workout facts. Nike has a great free running log over at www.nikerunning.com where you can track things such as shoes worn, surface you ran on, how you were feeling, etc. It would be great if those things could be incorporated into the Nike+ site.
In summary, it’s a great little product if you already have the Nano and are in the market for a new pair of Nike shoes (or want to try it without them). The Nike + iPod Sport Kit itself at $29 is a super cheap way to track the distance and time of your workouts, especially if you already run with an iPod nano. It’s a brilliant idea pairing up these technologies and it’s another way to make training more fun and more efficient though the use of new technologies. However, this system is lacking some features that more serious runners want to track in regards to their workouts. In its current form it’s probably best suited if you just want to track your distance, or if you are new to running and looking for something to keep you motivated.
(Disclaimer: Jessica works as a part-time sales associate at Nike Women.)