Sunday, May 18, 2008
Tracking Runs via Nike+ SportBand
Despite my day job covering how digital technology is changing media and advertising, I'm a bit old school with my running. One of the great things about running is its simplicity. You only need sneakers, although shorts and a shirt are probably a good idea. Sure, I run with a $30 triathlon watch, but that's about it. I've been of two minds about Nike+, the system that lets runners record and share workouts through their iPods. On the one hand, I've admired it as a legitimately revolutionary step toward marketing as a service, something I've written about quite a bit. Yet as a runner, it never appealed to me. Why? First, I don't believe in listening to music while running. I used to say it was for "the mentally weak." But more seriously, I think it's dangerous, not because of muggers necessarily but the more dangerous runner foe: cars. Taking away one of your senses is dumb. And it's true that "real runners" typically don't listen to music while running. Music is often used as a crutch by people who say running is "boring." Since running is the one time of the day I'm truly alone with my thoughts, this leads me to conclude those people are the boring ones. It's also an artificial stimulant. I see people surge when some song comes through their ear buds. Fine and all, but not exactly an efficient way to train.
With all that in mind, I figured Nike+ was properly aimed at the mass-market lifestyle runner. Then the SportBand came out. This intrigued me because it did away with the iPod in favor of a watch-like band. The idea of easily tracking my workouts is very appealing. On Saturday, I dropped $60 for the system. I don't run in Nikes, so I got a little pouch that attaches the sensor to the top of my Asics, rather than the built-in opening in Nike shoes. I know Nike wants to sell shoes through this system, but I can't think of many people running for years who would suddenly switch shoes. It just doesn't happen, unless you've had injuries. So far, I'm underwhelmed. The chart above shows my run today. After nine years of running, I figure I have a pretty good sense of pace. There's no way it was that slow. I ran today more at 7:30 or a little below. The graph also has all these peaks and troughs that don't make sense. It would have me believe one mile was 7:02 and another 8:13. I'll keep trying it to see how accurate it is. Right now, I think my regular watch and knowledge of the distance works just fine.