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Adding Fun to Your Run with Nike Plus

"Hi, my name is Dave, and I am a nerd… a nerd who is trying to get in shape by running every day even though running alone can be mundane.  A nerd who is staying interested in running by gathering data about my running using an awesome gadget called Nike Plus.  If you are a health conscious nerd like me, I encourage you to check out Nike Plus."

Recently I wrote that I had started a program of exercise combining intervals of running and walking in an effort to get into better shape. One of the great things about the run / walk program I was utilizing was that it was progressively more difficult.  Each week you ran a little more and walked a little less. This increasing challenge made running interesting.  Each week was more difficult than the week before, which kept me motivated to get out and run each day.  I am pleased to report that I completed the program, and I am now a full fledged runner – not a great runner but a runner none the less. 

While on vacation a few weeks ago, I got the chance to run / walk with my sister in law Katie – who is an avid runner.  One morning between my gasps for oxygen while trying to keep up with her, I expressed my concern that I was going to need to figure out a way to stay engaged in running once I completed my walk / run program.  She suggested that I check out something called Nike Plus.  I thought it sounded kind of cool, so I put in on the "things I need to check out someday" list in my head… and then quickly forgot about it due to the pain in my lungs, knees, and ankles.

Last week, my wife, who began running a few weeks before I did, informed me that Nike Plus was something that we needed to get.  It seems Katie had told her about it too, and thankfully, my wife’s memory and listening skills are better than mine.  So we went out and picked up a Nike Plus sensor and tested it out.  In a word – Awesome.

Nike Plus is simply a small sensor you put on your shoe that then works with your ipod to measure the speed and distance of your run.  It could not be easier to use.  You pick a workout, pick your music, and hit go.  As you run, you can push a button to find out how far you have run and what your current pace is.  It will also tell you when you reach milestones like 1/2 miles, 400, 300, 200, and 100 meters to go.  It keeps you engaged in running by giving you constant feedback, which in turn motivates you to run harder.  

Once you finish running, you can upload and track your data online, day by day and run by run.  Doing this converts running from a monotonous, isolated activity into an engaging, ongoing competition against yourself.  "Can I beat my fastest mile?"  "Can I beat my fastest overall time?"  "How many miles can I run this week?"  It is like being the main character in your own video game.  Each time I upload the data, I look for peaks and valleys in my time, think about my run, and ponder how I might be able to improve my results next time.  Each time I lace up my shoes, I am competing against the last time I laced them up, and each time I start to get winded, I think about beating yesterday’s time. Even if I don’t succeed, it is fodder for thought as to why. 

Not only can you compete against yourself with Nike Plus, but the website also offers the ability to set goals, follow training programs, create teams, schedule events, map routes, blog, and engage in dialogue, contests, and competitions with other runners – thus creating a complete community of engaged fitness geeks.  It is compelling to see so many others engaging in the same ongoing struggle to put the right foot in front of the left more quickly than the day before.  The site adds a great element of community to the very personal activity of running.  It is an excellent motivator and a great source of useful information. 

So, I continue my journey to renewed physical fitness – a journey made nerdier, and hopefully more successful, with technology.

Thanks for reading the post.  Gotta run.

To learn more about the story of how Nike Plus came to be, check out this story from Wired.

To check it out for yourself, visit the NikePlus website.