Since I finally got the damn thing working, I feel like I can objectively write up a little bit about how Nike’s iPod Sport Kit works and what I think of it. First, a tiny back story. I have wanted (so badly) an iPod Nano since the original was released. Those little slender aluminum things were awesome. I had a bulky 60 gig iPod and have run with it for a few years now. I like that iPod, but it has started to give me some problems of late—crashing on occasion, locking up my computer when it’s plugged in. When Apple released the new Nanos earlier this month, complete with video capabilities, I couldn’t wait any longer. I grabbed one a little over a week ago.
The first item on the list for me to pick up with it was the Sport Kit. I had already been interested in the kit, but without a Nano, I couldn’t use it. I bought a workout album and loved the music. And as someone who needs motivation to get my ass out on the road, the added benefit of easy tracking seemed to make the choice really easy. I have been tracking my workouts for as long as I remember either by using Excel or MayMyRun. I had a tendency to forget to input stuff, though and would occasionally lose information. As someone who uses my tracking to improve fitness (I desperately need to see improvement or I lose motivation and tend to give up) and generally have to have a goal in mind to attempt to reach, there couldn’t be a better product.
First off, the transmitter thing that goes into your shoe (I do not own the Nike shoes. I put the thing under the tongue of my shoe and it stays nice and snug in there.) is very small. In fact, I’m worried I’ll lose it so I have to be very obsessive about where I put it when I’m done. I started off having trouble with it. The first time I ran with it I went two miles. The reading it gave me was 2.75 miles. So I came home and calibrated it by running the minimum of 400 meters. As I finished the 400 meters, the reading it gave me was .24 miles. So it was pretty close to right on. I went running a couple of days later, this time going 2.5 miles, and the reading said 3.25 miles. Screwed up again. I went a couple days later, this time using a 3 mile program and I was getting the feedback (a voice will come on and tell you when you hit each half mile) at the wrong times on a course I was very familiar with. So I stopped at a set spot, turned around, and calibrated again, this time using a longer 1 mile calibration. I did not see what the reading was when I finished, but according to the readings I was getting on my way out, it was probably close to 1.5 miles. I went last night and ran the three miles (this time not using the pre-programmed 3 mile workout) and got a reading very close to correct. I figure it’s fixed.
The receiver that plugs into the Nano is tiny as well. No bigger than the connector that comes with it, except no cord. Workouts are stored in the iPod and uploaded the next time you plug the iPod into your computer. A nice window appears in iTunes asking if you’d like to visit the Nike site (assuming you’ve signed up for a free account) at that time. The Nike site is fantastic. In addition to tracking the miles you’re putting in, you can map the runs, see a graph of your pace with markers at each mile point, set goals (like, 25 miles in four weeks) and join or start challenges (like most miles in a month for beginning runners). For someone who needs a little help to get out and run, it’s the perfect tool. I immediately joined a challenge and set a goal for myself, which I’ve stayed ahead of pace on since it began.
Overall, I love the kit. For $29, I couldn’t ask for a better motivator for me and for a better interface with the product. It’s great, and I plan on running to meet my goals and participate in challenges. The biggest downside I’ve found is that it was inaccurate at first, but I’ve hopefully fixed that.