Recently I got my hands on one of Nike’s brand new Nike+ SportBand. If you’ve heard of the Nike+ iPod thing, it’s basically that, with a watch instead of the iPod. And yes, this means you can’t play your music (unless you bring your iPod along for the ride, or rather run).
Pre-Hands On Thoughts
I heard of the Nike+ iPod setup when it came out of course, and I thought it was a really great idea. I refrained from buying it for a while though to see how well it worked. Unfortunately I got mixed reviews from various friends and people I know through running, mostly bad. The main problem is of accuracy, it seemed ok if you were running on a solid surface, such as concrete, but if you transitioned to something softer, say grass or sand, it either came up dramatically short on the milage for your run, or far too high. Also, many were miffed by not being able to find out how it worked. The general consensus was that it was a basically supped up pedometer.
So of course, I was skeptical when I got the Nike+ SportBand. I thought it was going to be the same thing as the Nike+ iPod, and that it wouldn’t be truly reliable for getting any real data for my runs.
The first thing you must do with the SportBand is calibrate it. I won’t walk you through it, Nike does a well enough job of that themselves.
Once I had mine calibrated, I began using it on my runs. For the record, it’s best if you use Nike’s shoes as they come with a pocket under the insole of the left shoe that fits the Nike+ chip inside. My first run was a short run (I was beginning my training again after a short respite), one that I know to be about 7 miles. The Nike+ SportBand reported it as 6.4 miles. The next day, it again showed a slight discrepancy to what the milage should be, about half a mile short. For the entire first week it remained roughly half a mile short on all of my runs. I am not sure as to the cause, but I may try re-calibrating it to try and fix it.
I haven’t had any real problems with using the device, other than it consistently coming up short on reporting milage. Two of the SportBands that were given to my group have what seems to be minor glitches, one of them cannot hold a full battery charge for more than 10-12 hours (they are supposed to be able to do 14 hours of running straight through, and I assume that running takes up more juice). Another will randomly have a display problem where the top half of the display is completely blank, and at other times it will be showing fine.
The Nike+ Website
When you connect your SportBand after logging a run (or three), the software window pops up, says it is loading the run data and uploads it to the Nike+ website. It then opens the main screen in your browser and shows you a nice graph of your run. The Y-axis is your speed (up is faster), and the X-axis is your distance (to the right is longer). At each of the mile marks a little dot appears on the graph, hovering over it will show you the milage and your pace at that point in the run.
I think that the Nike+ SportBand is a very helpful device for those who are starting to get into running or jogging, or like to do it casually, and would like to track their milage or pace. For those who like to listen to music while they run, the Nike+ iPod adaptor is probably better.
However, for more serious runners who have complicated training regimes and would like more accurate and complete workout data, I hear that Garmin has a few good options.
Quick disclaimer: I did not purchase the Nike+ SportBand, I am part of a group of 14 runners (7 guys and 7 girls) that received them free for the purpose of a trial program we will be doing over the summer.