Saturday, December 27, 2008

Nike + iPod, first impressions

First off, let me say that I love my new iPod Nano. This is the first "Apple" audio product that I have used (I've used several other less expensive players), and it does seem that Apple has this market figured out. This is an amazing little player.

Today was my first run with the Nike + iPod. For those of you that don't know, this relatively inexpensive running toy includes an add-on for the Nano (a little chip that you plug into the bottom of the player), and a pod that you put into your shoe. Nike would have you believe that these things are only compatible with their shoes, but that is not true. I made a little pouch out of duct tape that allows me to integrate the pod into my shoe laces much like you would a timing chip. No problems there.

The small instruction manual that came with the product mentioned something about calibrating. "Nike + iPod is quite accurate for most users. You can improve the accuracy by calibrating Nike + iPod to your natural running and walking styles."

Basically, you choose calibration from the menu, select a distance, then go run and walk that distance. Then the system is calibrated. I decided to skip this step and see just how accurate it was out of the box. I used my trusty Garmin Forerunner for comparison. I am visiting family for the Holidays, so I do not know the "real" distance that I ran. Here's how today's run turned out.

Nike + iPod
Duration: 45'23"
Total Miles: 7.04
Avg Pace: 6'27"

Garmin Forerunner 205
Duration: 48'25"
Total Miles: 6.11
Avg Pace: 7'55"

Given that I did not calibrate the system, I expected some discrepancy. But this is more than I expected. I felt like I was running pretty hard, but not quite as hard as the iPod display was telling me. Based on the distance that I can estimate from Google maps, the Garmin is pretty darn close for the overall distance. And I cannot explain the time difference. The Garmin is a stopwatch even when it is not getting good satellite reception, so I trust its timekeeping ability. I did need to pause the Nike+iPod workout mid run to change the music I was listening to, but not for 3 minutes. I tried to start and stop them at the same time, so this one is baffling.

So far the jury is out on this one. It definitely needs calibration before it can be trusted. I do not like the fact that I need to pause the workout to change music. I think I can get around this one by learning how to use the overall system better. So I will calibrate it before my next run, and make a better effort to run a course with known mileage.

I like my toys.

Run hard out there.


Pat said...

Hey enjoy your blog, esp since I'm planning on the Beast in 2009.

I used my nike+ipod for training for the Baltimore marathon this past October. I run a lot of trails, and being new to running, had really no idea on distances so relied on the device quite a bit.

I logged my longest run at 20 miles and thought I was good to go. I ran with the nike+ipod (no headphones) for the marathon, and it logged over 31 miles for the race! I had calibrated it about a month before on the track. It definitely got me through the first marathon, but I wouldn't rely on it for ultras or for trying to PR in my next marathon.

I picked up a garmin forerunner 405 and solely use that.

Just my 2 cents! Again enjoy the blog.

Neal Jamison said...


Thanks for the note. I read on another blog where a runner ran a marathon and was suffering around mile 23 when his iPod congratulated him on finishing 26.2. I think I would throw it in the trash at the next aid station if that happened to me. Toys are good for what they are... toys. The Garmin 405, on the other hand, is a great tool. I think you will get a lot out of it. Just stay away from tall buildings, trees, mountains, etc. ;-)

big E said...

training for my first ultra in sept having never run further than 19 miles so i'm going to have to try this for training runs. cheers.

Neal Jamison said...

Good luck Big E! You have plenty of time to train. Long Slow Distance is still important, so don't do without it completely.

big E said...

No worries on the long and slow. Slow is what I'm very good at. :) So by Sept I should have some good, long distance under my belt.