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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Hybrid Runner

With this many wires, I should have my own sci-fi show
Running, my parents tell me, used to be a much simpler thing. Back in their days, you ran barefoot and didn’t complain about it, because if you slowed down, you’d be eaten by a dinosaur (I may not have been paying much attention).

But in all honesty, while the basic goal of running has remained the same (get from point A to point B as fast as possible), the equipment has come a long way from shoes with soles made on a waffle iron (I’m not joking). As long as I’ve been running, I’ve always had technical running shoes and moisture-wicking tops. The only electrical equipment I used, however, was a basic stopwatch. But times are changing, and today I went running with my iPod Nano and Nike+ iPod.

For those of you who don’t know, the Nike+ is a transmitter that can be inserted into many new Nike shoes, or attached in a velcro pouch to your regular shoe. The transmitter measures the speed and distance you run, and then sends the information either to your iPod Nano or a Nike Sports band (I swear I’m not being paid by Nike to write all this). Anyways, since I had gotten a Nano last Christmas, I decided to get the Nike+ iPod and try it out.

I started by velcroing the transmitter to my shoe, and attaching the receiver to my iPod. Then the first problem occurred to me…I already had an arm-strap for running with my iPod. How would I get the iPod to fit in it with the receiver attached? I looked at the back of the strap and saw it had to bands of velcro, one at the perfect height for my modified iPod. Perfect, I thought, its like it was made for it. I looked closer. There on the strap it said, “for NIKE+iPod”. Oh well. iPod one, me zero.

I set my iPod to play my running playlist, made sure the volume was low enough that could hear what was going on around me, and set out. Feeling very high-tech, I started the interval timer on my watch (it beeps at three and one minutes intervals alternately, telling me when to walk and run), my stopwatch, and my iPod. With all my clocks running, I started to jog down the street. But there was a problem. No music. I twisted my arm so I could see my iPod screen. Everything looked right. I stopped and turned the volume up and down. Still no music. After about 30 seconds of fiddling around, I realized my ear-phones weren’t plugged in. I plugged them in and was treated to a blaring blast of music, having left the volume turned all the way up. iPod two, me zero.

With all systems go, my run really got under way. I love running to music, especially anything with a fast rhythm. A remnant of my marching band days, I still feel the urge to run in time with the music, so the faster the songs, the faster I run. After about two running intervals, a slower song came on just as my walk break started. I slowed down, paying attention to my breathing. As I did so, I glanced down and saw the transmitter on my shoe. It just sat there, taunting me. I know you’re walking, it seemed to say, and I’m recording ever step you take. I sped up. iPod three, me zero.

As always, I sprinted the last bit of my run, stopping the timer on my watch as soon as I hit the finish line. Suddenly, it occurred to me that I had only read the section on starting the Nike+ and not the one on stopping it. I hit a few buttons, and a voice announced in my ear, 31minutes, 21 seconds. I must have jumped 10 feet into the air. iPod four, me zero.

I figured out how to stop the iPod, and after my cool down and a big glass of water, I uploaded my results to the computer. I knew had run just under 3 miles at just over 10 minute mile pace, but my iPod apparently thought I had run 3.14 miles at 9:57 pace, which is considerably faster. Hmmm. Looks like I managed to beat the thing after all.

P.S. If you want to see the times for my runs, scroll down to the bottom of the page. I figure now my mom and dad can know if I’m staying on my running schedule even when I’m back at school.

P.P.S. A shameless plug: all my running equipment, from my shoes up, came from Track Shack (except the iPod Nano). Both the Nike+iPod for the Nano and the Nike+Sports band can be bought there.

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