Wednesday, February 17, 2010

The Nike + System

I wanted to share some tips I've learned in working with the Nike Plus system for the past four years. For those of you that aren't aware of this, Nike offers a Nike Plus system that monitors your distance through an iPod (either Nano, iPhone or iPod Touch – any size storage). It consists of putting a shoe sensor in your Nike+ shoes syncing the iPod with the sensor and setting your preferences with iPod (miles vs. kilometers, Basic vs. distance/time mode, etc.). Each time you sync your iPod with iTunes, it sends you running information to the Nike + website, which keeps track of all of your runs.

What I noticed after using this system on and off for a number of years are that there are times where the iPod will have a hard time syncing with the shoe sensor. I'd be surprise if you don't run into the same experience now and then. I'd like to offer some things to try when this happens to you:

-Try shutting down your iPod and restarting it. I've found this works to fix it 70% of the time.

-Go to your iPod setting for Nike Plus and try to re-sync with the sensor. Sometimes, with multiple sensors being at an Athletic Club, Race Events, or if you have multiple sensors in your house, it will lose the connection. Re-syncing fixes this.

-Lastly, you need to check the sensor. One of things I didn't realize (until after spending a half an hour trying to get the sensor synced) is that each sensor has a battery in it. I thought the sensor was a receiver with a magnet or some type of marker and the power source for keeping track was the iPod. But that's not the case. How long does it last? I haven't had any sensor last more than a year but I put in around 1000 miles a year. So if you push the sync button on the sensor and you still can't get the iPod to find the sensor (after trying the two steps listed above), your battery might be dead.

Now, concerning what sensor to buy. If you have a Nano or an older style iTouch or iPhone, you will need to get a sensor with an attachment that plugs into the bottom of your iPod. This will run about $29.95. If you have an iPod iTouch or an iPhone, you just need the sensor, this runs $19.95.

Finally, a quick observation on calibrating the system for distance. You have two options in calibrating the distance, either Walk Method or Run Method. Either method is fine, but one thing I've learned is that the last method that you use, determines the distance for either walking or running. If you are a walker, this will probably not be a big deal, but for running, it is. That's because your stride, time and turnover rate of your feet determine the distance. So, if you are primarily using this for running, use the run method, for walking, the walking method.

One more item to note on calibration. Remember to calibrate it at a pace that you normally either run or walk. I've found that if I calibrate it for running on my easy run pace, when I do my speed or tempo workout, it doesn't give me an accurate distance (comes up short). I believe this is because the time is faster and the calculation can't account for the quicker speed. So using your tempo speed (which is normally between your slow easy speed and quick speed workout pace) might be the best to use if you want to have a calibration that you don't need to adjust all the time.

I actually keep two sensors in two sets of shoes. One for the shoes I walk in, the other for the shoes I run in. I use a Nano for my running shoes and my iPhone for the walking shoes. And of course, I calibrated each accordingly.

If you have any quick tips that you would like to share, please do. Write me at

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