Nike+iPod Review

So, the box showed up today about 11:30. I got home about 6, did supper, and headed to the track to calibrate the sensor and do my two miles for the day.

Initial feelings about the kit are extremely positive: The sensor is, indeed, tiny, and the whole thing does, indeed, “Just Works It” (TM) as soon as you plug it in. There is empirical data (Courtesy of my ranting and geek blog and an old and fine friend) that the simplest solution, velcroing the sensor to another pair of sneaks, works like a champ. I haven’t tried that yet, but figure I will in the near future.

I don’t think it’s going to be difficult at all to mod other shoes, especially for runners who wear orthotics. Just mold the sensor into the orthotics. I’ll buy a pair of Dr. Sholls insoles next month and do the deed with my Asics. The handy foam plug that comes out of the Nikes will make a great template to modify.

Actually, how’s this for a thought? Don’t they have special custom molded orthotics where you put a package into your sneaks, then stick in your foot and wear them for a couple of minutes while the wonder of plastics takes place and they mold to your foot? Why not put the Nike+ sensor beneath the insole before you step in?

The Air Zoom Moire + sneakers – well, I cannot decide if I like them or not. Physically, they’re great – lightweight, kind of a “sock” design similar to my beloved Asics Gel Cumulus VIIIs, but without anything stiff on the outside to rub if they’re laced on tight, which is how I like to run. Running on a track today, they felt absolutely great. I think they share a design philosophy with the much maligned* “Free” series. There wasn’t much to the soles other than cushion, and just enough of that. I could tell when I was transitioning from rubber track to concrete, and from concrete to gravel.

As much as I like the uppers and the midsole, I’m kind of worried about the actual rubber that meets the road. The Moire+ shoes are a completely flat bottom, with kind of a snowshoe thingy sticking off of the heel. For someone like me with a pretty decent stride, the extra pad off of the heel is an invitation to backslide to heel striking.

As a New England runner, the completely flat sole gives me willies, too. Completely flat means more surface area, which means less pressure per unit area on the sole, which means I start sliding on ice much, much sooner. Not a problem in July, but not the best of situations from December through March. Yet more incentive to hack the insole of the Asics.

The iPod part was as easy as you’d expect from Apple. Plug in the module, go to the Nike + iPod menu on the Main Menu, and click, click, click. Then start running.

There’s two calibrations for the sensor: Running and Walking. When I got to the track, I selected up the “Running” calibration, dialed it up to 400 meters, or a quarter mile for those of us who still swear by imperial measures, and wish we could get an actual imperial clock for use in Metric Football that tells us when the game is going to end, clicked to start the workout, and started running. Clicked when I finished running, and the iPod said that calibration was successful.

This morning’s text message was “Two Miles”, so after calibrating, I selected “Distance -> 2 Miles -> Shuffle Songs”, clicked start, and started running. There was an option to select a workout (purchase from the ITMS), or a playlist, or (my favorite) “Shuffle Songs”. The shuffle songs worked like a champ. It did seem to self-select more up-tempo songs, and ones I hadn’t given high star ratings too.

As I ran, I hit the middle button at each lap and got a time, speed, and distance report whispered into my ear by my own personal trainer. Great voice casting for the woman, haven’t tried the man. She sounded intelligent, fit, and encouraging. I need to ask the wife when she did the recording – it wasn’t “robotic” sounding at all, so h’m assuming it’s some sort of pre-recording.

The voice told me when I started the last mile, last half mile, last 400 m, 300 m, 200 m, 100 m, and completion. Pretty slick. The calibration seemed right on, maybe a little bit long, but isn’t that better than being short?

After the run, I did the walking calibration, which ended up being something like 20 yards short of 400 m. My guess is that it’s default is for “power walkers”, and I was just sort of ambling along to catch my breath.

Out of curiosity, I redid the running cal, and it ended up exactly the same as the first time I did it.

At home I plugged in the iPod, and got asked if I wanted to sync with


At the setup screen. Entered the info I’d been using with, and clicked “enter”


The computer sucked the info out of the iPod, sent it off into the ether, and sent me to the nikeplus website. There, I set some prefs:


and up popped my run


Easy as advertised. It even synced with my account, so all of that history is still useful.

I’m kind of unimpressed with the website – not a whole lot of cool training tools there. More like running as a videogame, which is not bad as a general concept, just a concept to be marketed to folks only half a decade or so younger than me.

General takeaway is that, for average runners, the system is indeed all that and a bag of chips. For folks like us RBFers, that is to say, obsessive/compulsive types, it offers not nearly enough customization (ie, how do I make it do intervals, how do I get my voice whispering in other people’s ears, how do I set up a business sending out customized, coached workouts via RSS feed…) But I love that you don’t have to do custom playlists (I was dreading that) for every workout, and that you can customize time/distance/speed. And, I love that it does sync with, which, even with all my love for Jeff and, is really, really useful.

* the griping about the “Free” shoes was warranted – barefoot is completely and totally, 100% different than running with padding on your feet. No question about it, and the marketing stunk because of that. Kind of like people who equate lap dances with real interaction with real women (not meaning to demean dancers by any means, but it’s like paying your friends.)**

** Speaking of that, guys, the checks for July are in the mail

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Good runs

Catching up with David last Thursday was absolutely great. We did, by his reckoning, 6.8 miles from his folk’s house down to the Atlantic and back, with a climb back up to the neighborhood from the sea that just went on and on. Great run.

There’s something great about catching up with another RBF’er – an easy conversation, love of life, the road, etc. We gabbed about running since the last time we’d hit the road together (way back at New Haven, hard to believe). Jobs, projects, family, food… Good times, and the miles flew. Really didn’t want the run to be over.

Friday, the text message was “4 miles with 4×3 minutes Tempo followed by 3 minutes recovery.” Not really sure what that was, so I parked over at Jamestown, and started running. About a mile into the run, I figured that “tempo” ought to mean “Run as hard as physically possible for 3 minutes”, so, I waited until the current song had 3 minutes left, and picked up the pace until I couldn’t hold it, then backed off slightly. 3 minutes later, I dropped down to a jog to try to recover. Repeated again, and realized that I was in tremendous pain – sorry, discomfort. 5 minutes to recover. Did two more “tempos”, but only 2 minutes each time.

The run was exceptional, though – perfect weather, good swim afterwards.

Saturday the message was “Rest”, so I did – took on the poison ivy again (and got another rash) with some success. Took the boys for a ride in the kayak. Jake in the stern hatch worked like a champ. Nate in the front hatch – not so good. It was a little bit too tight for him with a life jacket on, so he rode back to the put-in in my lap. Which was not as bad as one might think.

Sunday, the text message didn’t come, so I ended up not running. The boy and I headed back up to the church after lunch to do some fairly strenuous yard work in preparation for getting a pre-school for 2 year olds state certified. Good stuff, then a little trip to the beach with the boys.

Hope everyone else is having as great a summer.