Nike+ Gets a Big Fat Minus

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Over the passed week I proved unequivocally that the Nike+ program is way under-tracking my runs.  Before I get into my little analysis, I do want to be clear that this could be due to a bad sensor (keep in mind I bought it open-box for $2) or it could be poor sensor placement.  I have friends who swear by Nike+ and love it, but after my experience I’ve found something I like better and that seems more consistent for me so I’m giving up on Nike.

I mentioned in my last entry that I was frustrated after my run on Friday when the Nike+ program told me I had only run 1.74 miles, but when I mapped my run in Google Earth I had actually ran close to four miles.  Things got even stranger when I ran on Monday along the Stowe Quiet Path.  I knew I had run less there than I had run on the Mad River Path, but the Nike+ program thought I actually ran farther; it measured my distance as 2.02 miles, though Google Earth, correctly, mapped me at 3 miles almost on the dot.  Here’s my path from that day, if you’re curious (keep in mind I turn around and run back so the path itself is only about 1.5 miles):

During that run, I had set the Nike+ sensor to calibrate, but I made the mistake of telling it to calibrate a three-mile run.  Since the sensor thought I only ran 2.02 miles it didn’t even give me the option to calibrate, and I was not about to run another mile just to appease it.  Instead, I found a better solution thanks to an old friend; Hank, I owe you one!

Hank responded to my last entry and told me about a program he uses called RubiTrack.  It works with GPS-enabled devices (like my iPhone) and it can actually map the runs and seems to be pretty darn accurate.  I also like that it can sync the information wirelessly with ones computer; a feature that I seriously don’t understand why the Nike software is missing.  All-in-all, RubiTrack makes the Nike+ solution seem antiquated.  That said, the price of the program is rather inhibitive: $14.99 for the iPhone App, $39.99 for the Desktop version.  So far I’ve been playing with the free iPhone version until I decide if it’s for me.

Today, I headed out with both the Nike sensor and the RubiTrack.  I decided to try to calibrate the Nike+ again, first with a mile of walking and then with a mile of running.  I also turned on Rubitrack to test it against the Nike+.  After walking 1.01 miles, according to RubiTrack (and Google Earth), the Nike+ program told me I had only walked 0.20 miles.  That’s it, I officially gave up on the Nike software.  I ran the mile back and RubiTrack tracked me correctly the entire time.

To appease the masses (heh), here is the basic placement of the Nike+ in my Vibram’s:

If you can’t tell from the picture, since that’s a curved area of my foot, the sensor does not sit perfectly parallel to the ground, though it’s pretty darn close.  I couldn’t find a way to center it better, unless I actually put it under my heel.  While that might sound crazy, while I’m running my heels generally do not touch the ground, so I definitely thought of that as an option.  However, when I walk my heels most certainly do touch ground, not to mention it’d be a PITA to take out before swimming post-run.

All-in-all, I think using RubiTrack is going to be the best option.  I won’t need to worry about a sensor in my shoe and I can actually end up with a real map of my run which is pretty exciting.

On a personal-health note, I had a phenomenal visit with the acupuncturist.  I’ll extrapolate in a future entry but I did want to note that while my foot is still in pain and I’m working towards recovery, it’s getting better every day and I do feel I can still run safely.

I am frustrated with my breathing right now, though.  The past two weeks have been quite humid in Vermont and my lungs aren’t handling it well.  I’m finding that I’m struggling to get enough air at times and that makes me want to stop running (in the moment, not for good).  It’s hard to push myself sometimes and without a program like C25K it’s definitely more of a struggle to get out and go.  I’m kind of sad to be saying that only two runs post C25K.  I hope that finding a new program that’s fun and setting some new goals will help keep me engaged and running!

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  1. Hank  June 9, 2010

    The cost of RubiTrack is a bit off-setting, but now that I have had it for a year (and can look back at aggregate information about past runs) I like it more and more each day. Being able to look at past pace, distance, etc. can be really motivating.

    Of course, you are talking to someone who dropped $350 on a Garmin GPS watch, only to later buy an $90 footpod to make it all the more accurate.

    Anyway, we had someone down from your employer today to tour our store. Thought of you!

  2. Lillian Wight  June 9, 2010

    I bought the Nike+ sensor when I bought my current running shoes and ended up having to return it when I realized my iPhone 3G wasn’t actually compatible with it.

    I tried the MapMyRun free app for a while and that wasn’t bad, but the site started driving me batty so I did a search and ended up checking out RunKeeper.

    The free app was amazing. I visited the site and it took me just a couple of minutes at the RunKeeper site to realize it was perfect for my needs. I immediately downloaded the Pro version of the app ($10) and I’ve been thrilled with it ever since.

    The GPS is really accurate, the uploads to the site are effortless – literally! – and the voice prompts are encouraging because they can be configured to include pace.

    By the way, you’ve definitely inspired me to try the Vibram’s. I have ‘flat’ feet that could definitely use some strengthening. As soon as I find a new job (I resigned my current one today:, if you’re interested), I’ll be making them a priority!

    • BarefootInVermont  June 10, 2010

      Thanks, Lillian! I’ll check out the RunKeeper app as well. Hah, this might just turn into a tech blog. 😉

      Congrats on quitting your job; when it’s the right choice it can be such a wonderful relief.

      Thanks for reading and let me know how it goes with the Vibram’s!