I’ve been a runner since 1989 – at times much more of a runner than at other times – but its something I’ve tried to maintain at some level at least over the years. And even though I tend to love gizmos and gadgets in many areas of life, I’ve never really invested in technology related to running beyond music appliances (from a Walkman to a Nano to my current iPhone). I’m convinced I’m probably one of the last runners in the country to experiment with GPS technology when I downloaded the new Nike+ GPS iPhone App.
But I did download it and this past weekend had a chance to try it out. I’ve been running with my iPhone for about six months now and had enjoyed the ability to listen to music streamed from sites such as Pandora, Slacker and AOL Radio – except for the times when I would hit dreaded AT&T Wireless dead spots. The Nike+ GPS iPhone App promised to allow me to listen to my expansive mp3 music collection while tracking my run.
Setting up the app is very easy and intuitive. I opted for the basic settings – asking to track the run in miles, and to be notified by voice when I hit mile marks (as well as my pace for each mile). I think linked my iPod through the app (super easy) and clicked “Start my run” and I was off.
The run was pretty normal initially as I decided to take my “long Edmonds loop” route. I had always guessed at the distance of this run but I had no idea how far it really was – so I was eager to track it more precisely. As I reached the first mile of my run, the music dimmed a bit and I heard a pleasant female voice announce “You have run 1 mile. Your current pace is 9:14.” Hey that was pretty cool. And oddly, it actually motivated me a bit. I kept a steady clip going and by the time I hit my 2nd mile, I had shaved 20 seconds off my pace per mile. Of course, it was easier and more enjoyable during the first half of my run than the second, as this loop starts with a 2 mile flat stretch, another mile downhill and then 1.5 miles of more flat running along the waterfront and marina – before heading back up to our house (which is probably about 600 feet above sea level. During the run up the long, steady hill I was running I received my 5 mile update and learned I had slowed to a 13 minute pace. Not surprising given the terrain – but not as motivating as before.
When I reached the conclusion of my run I tapped “end my run” and I was able to instantly see the distance (a surprising 6.5 miles) as well as the route on Google Maps (including split times for each mile run). The information is instantly synched and saved on a Nike server (you have to set up a free account – but that only takes a minute). A different fun-loving voice announced that I had achieved a personal 10K best (I would assume it was a personal best since it was my first but hey, it was still kind of fun).
I have friends and family who have purchased the separate Nike+ GPS electronic appliance and have shared all it can do – and I have no doubt they are a great training tool (especially if you are hard core). But I love the fact that I don’t need to buy any additional hardware to use the Nike+ GPS iPhone App – and it cost less than $5. It’s a bargain and I have a feeling it may soon (if I stay motivated and committed to my runs) become my most used iPhone app.
Well done Nike!