Nike + Running App Review

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I was an early adopter of the Nike + Running experience. I have always been a fan of the Nike Free and vowed to never buy a different running shoe after a couple bad experiences testing other brands. Because of that I also added the Nike + shoe sensor and Nike + Sportband to my collection a few years ago. 
 
The honeymoon was great. We romped around like teenagers. Ducking away for a six mile run here and there, but it was not long before my new partner was leaving their laundry and getting lazy.

The Situation: My biggest issue with the Sportband and + Sensor was that it did not track my runs accurately. The signal dropped out at random intervals and left me shortchanged. The final straw was my second half marathon when it recorded just 7.1 of my 13.1 miles. There’s not much point in tracking your run if it does not track your run.

So I gave up tracking my fitness, until I bought an iPhone 4. Among the new apps I downloaded was RunKeeper. It allowed me to use my phone’s GPS or manually enter runs when I used a treadmill. It tracks cycling, hiking and elliptical training, which gave me freedom to do a varied expercise program.

But like Facebook stalking an ex-girlfriend, my mind yearned for the old days and forgot the fights.

I read that Nike's running app received a new update and hailed as the sexy girl at the party (I’m paraphrasing).

I downloaded the app and logged in to my old Nike + account. She greeted me, not by a chilly stare wondering where I had been the last few years, but with a warm towel and a slideshow of all our best moments. Every past run I logged was there (still missing miles, but she remembered). The information was even converted to Nike Fuel.

With new app in hand (literally, I run holding my phone) I took off for a run. It worked great. Then I took it inside on the treadmill and it worked again. Since I hold my phone I didn’t need a sensor. It uses the phones' internal sensors to gauge how far I’ve run. The information was spot-on and it was easy to confirm since the treadmill gave me information.

The Problem: All appeared happy again. Nike + and I started our second honeymoon, but it wasn’t long before old habits creeped in. While the old problems had been fixed, Nike picked up an annoying new one — it didn’t care about my heart.

I use a Nike watch that syncs with a heartrate monitor when I run, but the watch only displays current beats per minute and the average once I'm done. There is no included calories burned or any way to track mileage.

I already know I’m buying the iPhone 5 when it comes out. I held off getting the 4S since my phone was only a year old (incremental upgrades are nice, but I’d rather see you after you shed 100 pounds than watch you lose each pound day by day).

The big feature I am excited about is Bluetooth 4.0, which enables devices to get information from each other rather than just pairing up. Communication is key to any successful marriage.

RunKeeper touts Wahoo Blue’s heart rate monitor. It works using Bluetooth 4.0 and displays my heart rate while I run and logs it when I’m done. No manual input. I could buy it for my iPhone 4, but I don’t want the dongle attached and we’re only a few months out from getting a new phone anyway.

You can already pair a heart rate monitor to the RunKeeper app.

Nike + does not have a way to sync a heart rate monitor with the iPhone — they have a $150 watch and a $70 monitor you can buy. This makes zero sense to me. I don’t want to buy a gaudy watch in addition to a new heart rate monitor. I simply want a new HR monitor to work with my phone that I already own.

Yes. It makes perfect sense to just buy Wahoo and use it with RunKeeper and once again leave Nike + pining away for me, but RunKeeper wants money for some of the websites features. I already pay a gym membership and I’m not keen on spending more per month to track my runs. The Nike + site is free and I love the interface. It’s clean, clear and sexy. The costs for the HR monitor are all up front, plus I’m already in the market for a new one.

Additionally, RunKeeper can track other activities. Nike + Running wants to turn me into Forrest Gump. Sometimes I don’t want to run, but walk, hike or hop on the bike.

If RunKeeper and Nike hooked up, it’s offspring would be the perfect fit.

The Conclusion: I’ve lived this long by using my watch and HR monitor without much complaint (both are Nike). I find it odd that Nike, which spends billions on Research and Developement and has been cultivating this Nike + running feature for six years, still does not have a way to track your heart rate on the iPhone. Instead they want customers buy a new watch and a specific monitor that only pairs with their brand of watch.
 
For now, I’m leaving the sexy girl at the party for the one that is a little more homely, but cares about my heart.

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Mike Loveday

I started my journalism career in college as an entertainment writer and eventually moved into the Sports Editor position. After graduation I worked as a Stringer for the Wilmington Star-News and covered Track & Field and Lacorsse. After eight months I was hired as a General Assignment Reporter for the Topsail Voice. In 2006, I was hired by Student Sports as a general assignment writer and moved into the role of Editor for MDVarsity.com. Purchased by ESPN in July 2008, Student Sports relaunched as ESPNRISE.com and I was promoted to the Contact Sports Editor in charge of football and lacrosse. In 2009, I took over lacrosse full-time. I am currently the Founder and COO of LaxRecords.com and the Mid-Atlantic reporter for US Lacrosse and where I manage the Nike/US Lacrosse Top 25 voting panel and a staff of four freelance journalists.