Some people start running for exercise, or to lose weight, or to be social, or to connect with the outdoors. I started running for the gadgets.
I really wanted an iPod Nano. I ended up getting a hobby, a tremendous sense of self-satisfaction, a couple of injuries, more time outside in a week than I used to spend in a month, some new muscles, and many, many pairs of sneakers. But I honestly started for the Nano.
My husband had written a paper about the Nike+ Sport Kit, so we had one sitting around. My shoes weren’t Nikes, so I never gave it much attention, but when I found out there were ways to use the kit with other shoes, the wheels started turning. I wanted to find a new way to exercise. I hated the gym. So, sure, I’d start running. And for that, I’d need a Nano. I mean, right?
I bought the Nano in Michigan after Christmas in 2007. In January 2008, I tied the sensor onto my shoelaces with a plastic baggie and a rubber band and went for my first outdoor run since high school gym.
(The baggie turned out to be a bad call; the sensor bounced around too much and by the end of my run it only recorded about .2 miles. Granted, I’d probably only run about .8 miles, but still.)
I ordered a proper shoe pouch, calibrated the Nano, and tried again. And again. On my 26th birthday, in January of 2008, I woke up and went for a run. I ran 3.09 miles in 32:01, and I know that because it’s still there on my Nike+ account. My whole running history is there.
That Nano came with me on almost every run from 2008 until earlier this year. I have the little chafe-scars on my hip from the case’s clip to prove it. (I may have been an early Nike+ adopter, but I was sadly late to Body Glide.) During this time, I was still a reporter, and the Nano was also my primary recording device for interviews, so the little guy had lots of adventures together: We’d travel to LA, wake up early, go for a run, spend the day doing 2 dozen interviews, then wake up and do it again the next morning.
Earlier this year, though, the Nano started freezing when I’d try to launch Nike+. A couple of times, I thought it was really and truly dead — and though it always eventually popped back up in my iTunes, it was clear that I couldn’t count on it. I reluctantly switched to running with my phone, and I accumulated an impressive amount of shirts with pockets and shorts with serious drawstrings to keep it stashed away on longer runs when I couldn’t stand to have it in my hand.
And then, because running is so sexy, the sweat started wrecking my touchscreen. So that wasn’t going to work long-term.
I spent a weekend obsessively researching Garmins. I tried running with my husband’s Nike+ sportband. I considered what it would mean to me to leave Nike+, and I thought about triathlons and bike computers and the merits of miles per hour vs. minutes per mile. I read insanely long GPS accuracy test blog posts. I decided it was so close to the holidays that clearly it would be silly to buy something for myself.
And then, on Tuesday, I woke up with a sense of clarity about the whole thing and went out and did this:
The “are we running today?” sticker sold me. As did the perfect little track ovals the GPS drew on its first trip out of the box.
There are still a few things I need to work out about the way I view stats on the run, and I’m sure having a GPS instead of just a shoe sensor means I’m in for another round of “Oh. Am I *that* slow?” I have 30 days — well, 27 now — to decide if it’s a keeper. But so far, I think we’re going to have many, many lovely mornings together.