Wednesday, March 07, 2007

Product Rave

I'm a runner. Well, I want to be a runner. I have always been a sprinter, I was on the track teams in both high school and college, but as anyone who was on a track team could tell you, there is a big difference between a runner and a sprinter. I could always run fast, but ask me to run for any length of time and I start whining like a baby.

Now, some ten years later, sprinting has no practical benefit to me. I haven't had to run a 1/4 mile in 50 seconds for a long time and I doubt I ever will again (I also doubt that I could); it's just a worthless talent. However, running is beneficial: it keeps you trim, keeps your heart young, and, not to mention, keeps my abs visible which my wife finds a plus. Despite all these benefits, I can’t motivate myself to run when it just so damned hard. That is why I want to rave about the Ipod Nano + Nike device.

My problem with running is simply that I lose interest in it quickly. I'll run for a couple of days and then get bored. I’ll make up excuses not to go out and then hit to pool instead (I'm also huge swimmer, growing up in a lake town, how could you not?). I just have nothing motivating me to stick with it, to slog out the miles after miles it takes to chisel your self into a "runner".

The nano + nike device can help with that. The device is a simple attachment for your Ipod Nano that tracks your distance, speed, time, and estimated calories burned on each run. After you run, you simply sync up the data with your computer and it uploads the data to an online database operated by Nike. The website converts that data into handy graphs and charts that show you your progress. It also allows you to make goals. I've made the goal to run 25 miles in 4 weeks, to run five runs in the next 4 weeks with an average pace under 9 min/mile, and to run at least 15 times in the next four weeks. The website then graphs my progress against these goals (It looks like I’m going to make my mileage goal and my speed goal, but the number of runs goal I’m a little behind on). Tracking my progress like this has been a huge aide in my motivation by tapping into my competitive side; I'm competing against my goals and therefore feel motivated to run. It's a simple concept but effective. After this set of goals, I simply make new harder ones and compete against those. I’m positive that this year I’ll make my goal of running in the Seattle Marathon.

There are also a loads of community features on the website such as the ability to map out your running course on line via google earth and share them with others. It also let you set online competitions with friends and strangers around the globe by giving you a forum to challenge them to various running goals and track the group progress; you can join message groups to support your running addiction and basically retreat into a digital world after you've been out bounding the pavement outside.

In addition to the Nike's auto crunching of the data, I've learned how to ferret out the raw data myself and plan on importing it into my own database and playing with it a little. The graphs on the Nike site are pretty simple and I think I could do some more complicated analysis on my own. (Besides, now that I’m in law school, how else am I going to keep my database skills sharp?)

For only 20 buck, it's a great peripheral for your Nano. It's been out for some time so it already showing up for discounts...I'm sure that this is just the beginning, I'm already looking forward to a device that is more accurate, can track elevation changes, etc...perhaps with the gen nano?


Katrina said...

Is it compatible with any other iPods? Looks like something I could really use.

Matt said...

I looked up the question online and there is the general consensus is that it will only work on the Nano. It would be a pretty easy software fix to allow it to work, on say the video, but Apple hasn’t done that yet. I’m not sure why Apple wouldn’t make it compatible across all models. It might be because the Nano has a flash drive vs. the other models that have hard drives in them and thus Apple is concerned about people jarring the hard drive with too much running…however, before getting my Nano, I had a 30 GB video that I used to run with and rarely had a problem with it. So, the answer is no but I’m not sure why they don’t fix it with in version update?