A long time ago — 2009, I believe — I was a Nike+ loyalist. I had the chip and the iPod Nano connector (ye olde Nano, not the fancy kind they have now), and when my Nano gave out, I moved on to the Sportband. I thought it was the coolest thing ever, and loved uploading the data to the website to track my progress.
But then, in 2010, I started running further than I ever had before. Suddenly, my Nike+ wasn’t seeming so accurate. Long runs that Team in Training had marked out at 6, 7, 8 miles were recording as 5 or less. I spent some time with Nike+ support and we recalibrated my sensor. Still not right. I replaced the sensor. Still not right. I borrowed a friend’s dusty, rarely used Sportband and sensor and recalibrated it to my stride. Still not right.
I was told by Nike that my problem was that my pace is inconsistent. Well… isn’t everyone’s pace inconsistent?
When healthy, I spend about half of my time running uneven terrain, so my stride length changes for uphills, downhills, flats and strange off-road trails. But even on concrete I have a bad tendency to start fast and slow over time. By mile 10 or so I’ve usually resorted to a run/walk system. Because of these inconsistencies, it seems that Nike+ can’t keep an accurate record of my workout.
As they explained this, it became obvious to me that I really wanted was a GPS-based tracking system, like a Garmin. Except… uh… I’m not paying that kind of money to guide my running. Seriously, I’d rather give that money to Team in Training. So I had come to the point where I just assumed that I’d have to go without any sort of pace or recordkeeping device and just befriend someone with a Garmin when I got back to official Team workouts.
But then I discovered the Runkeeper Pro app. It’s free through the end of January, but I’m going to tell you this now: it’s worth $9.99. It’s worth more than that, actually. It’s fabulous.
It’s absurdly simple to operate. You choose your activity — running, cycling, mountain biking, walking, hiking, etc. — choose a musical playlist that syncs to your iTunes library, and choose whether or not you want coaching (a woman’s voice that thoughtfully reminds you that you’re way, way, WAY behind your target pace).
Press “start” and get going. It’s that easy. I have mine set to update me every 5 minutes to let me know elapsed time, distance and pace.
Last week I did an out-and-back loop. I ran to the gym, did my workout, then walked back. I set my Runkeeper in both directions. Both times my pace was reasonably accurate, and most importantly both the walk and run showed the same exact distance down to the second decimal. With Nike+, that distance would have been off by some degree.
I already carry my phone with me in case of emergencies. With Runkeeper, I get to use something that I already have to do something I desperately need. It’s multitasking at its finest!
As an added plug for the organization behind this app, I had an issue with getting my runs to sync to the website. I emailed for help at 8:26 on a Friday night and had my answer within 20 minutes. Fantastic customer service!
Download this app. Seriously. You won’t be sorry.
* This is a non-compensated, non-sponsored endorsement of Runkeeper. I’ve just found a cool product and I’m sharing the love.