Nike+. I’m afraid to say that I like it very much…

nikemeI should apologise really, as this is my first blog in nearly a month. But since being rear-ended (in the car I might add) in early December, having only just recovered from the flu, it’s taken me till now to get my lumbering, whiplash-ridden body in any kind of shape for running.

Yes, I’m currently suffering from the affliction known locally as ‘Florida Neck.’ So named, because you get hit by another car, sue for the whiplash, and take the family off to Florida. Which, while I’m not a fan of the compensation culture, is a splendid expression, perhaps only topped by ‘Bingo Wings’ in my all time top 10 of working class speech patterns. But I digress…

Having enjoyed far more festive cheer than was good for me (I’ve been soothing the pain of all the soft tissue damage to my back with a medicinal blend of Guinness and good scotch), I’m now at least a stone overweight. So I wasn’t totally keen to go out for my first run of 2009.

Added incentive came in the shape of the Nike+ unit I received as a Christmas present. While I hate to jump on popular bandwagons, and really couldn’t see the point of something that is just a glorified pedometer, I can’t resist gadgets, and so went out to calibrate the thing together with my newly-acquired iPod nano.

Well, first off, I couldn’t get the thing to work at all. I tried it out over several 1 mile runs, but it kept on telling me I’d only run 100 metres. Useless. So much so that I sent an email to Nike asking for assistance. They told me to calibrate it over the 400m distance that’s the default setting. Yet when I set it to measure 400m, it started telling me that I hadn’t moved at all.

Then my son, who obviously has all the brains in the family, noticed that the shoe pouch I was using for the Nike+ sensor was actually inverting the sensor as I strapped it to my running shoes. Once I fixed this, and banged my stupid head against the wall several times, I was ready to go. So, I measured 400m on mapmyrun.com, which turned out to be the exact length of our street, fired up my iPod and jogged along the street by way of telling the Nike+ unit how many strides it took me to cover 400m. Then I ran a carefully measured mile around the block as a test, which the Nike+/Nano then confirmed was exactly a mile.

I got updates on distance as I ran, including a countdown for every one of the last four 100m markers – and then when I’d finished, Paula Radcliffe’s voice came over my headphones to congratulate me on being able to run a whole 1.6km!

Now, much as I revere Paula, this was not a high point of my running career. “I can run so much further” I wanted to squeak back at her. “This is not a big deal. And I’ve not been well” I might have added. I could even have mentioned that I once surged powerfully past her during the London Marathon, albeit that we were running in opposite directions and she was 14 miles ahead of me at the time…

This small humiliation aside, however, having sorted out the self-inflicted niggles with the Nike+ unit, I have to say that it’s a wonderful addition to running with an iPod for absolutely any runner. mylittle-run

Particularly as you can also upload pace and distance data to the Nike+ site for analysis afterwards. Not to mention the fact that pushing the centre button on your iPod while using the Nike+ also allows you to go immediately to your ‘Power Song.’

Yes, I know it’s a naff concept. And no, I didn’t need to use it during my mile run around the block. But the ability to hear my favourite motivational song any time I need it during a long run is going to be a big, big bonus. And like the Nike+ itself, it’s going to be a ‘Monster’ (by the Automatic).

If you’re an iPod user, I really can’t recommend the Nike+ highly enough. Sure, it won’t be quite as accurate as a Garmin sat nav, but as a training partner, it’s simple, personable and very user-friendly.

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