Go Go Gadget Running

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?


Hello, old friend.

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:

Nike Sport Watch

Hello, new friend.

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.

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2 thoughts on “Go Go Gadget Running

  1. […] training, I don’t react well. Last week, adjusting to the new watch, I kept seeing paces around 9:40/mile on what was supposed to be a 8:59/mile tempo run. And they […]

  2. […] started running largely because of the gadgets — it was the data, the feedback, the ability to see progress that ultimately got me out the door. […]

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