I’m not sure if running a 10K on the Sunday of Daylight Savings Time was the best idea. I’m not a morning person on the best of days so trying to get those miles minus an hour and meet friends for brunch was a bit tricky. But that’s the beauty of a virtual 10K race – you run the miles WHERE you want and WHEN you want. After some unintentional peer pressure Friday morning, I decided at the last minute to register for the Nike Women’s 10K. Okay, I’m a sucker for a cute shirt too! So that was a plus too. There was just one problem – everyone was being asked to record their 10K times using Nike+ Running App.
I really had no idea what that was. I thought that I might end up having to purchase and extra gadget but it turns out Nike+ Running App is free and available for both the iPhone and Android phones. Although there is a sensor available, you can run the app by itself on the phone. The only other requirement is that you sign up for a Nike+ account. According to the Nike+ site, the app uses a combination of the phone’s GPS and accelerometer to gather information such as your mileage, pace, calories burned and it works indoors or outdoors. You can then share stats from your run through various social networks such as Facebook, Twitter and Pinterest.
Before you start a run, you open the Nike+ app and click on the “run” button which gives you the option of several types of run – a basic run, a distance run, a timed run and a speed run. For my 10K, I chose a basic run but with the other options, you are given your previous personal best times or distances and encouraged to beat those times. Once you’re off on your run, you have the option of receiving feedback from the app which gives you your elapsed split time and pace, as well as the total distance of your run to that point. You can choose frequency at which you are given updates in time or mileage or choose to have them off completely. You can also take a peek at the map, in case you get lost and even program in a ‘Powersong’ list to give you a boost for those times you’re feeling low on energy or about to tackle a giant hill.
To complete your run, you simply touch the pause run and then end button. You can then record your feedback on the run and are given the option to share that information with friends through Facebook, Twitter or Pinterest before it’s uploaded to the Nike+ site.
I liked that the app was user friendly with lots of graphics – it was so easy to use that I installed it onto my mom’s iPhone so she could use it to keep track of her walks. I thought the voiceover giving me info on my pacing, time and total distance updates during my run were handy. It saved me from constantly looking at my Garmin and scrolling through the screens. I was also able to adjust the distance on my route post run which I found handy because the mileage recorded through the phone GPS system is sometimes slightly different than of my Garmin. I hadn’t seen that option on other running apps before. Nor had I seen an app that let me track the mileage on my shoes, that was definitely a nice touch! But my absolute favorite part of the app was the ‘get cheers’ option which put a post onto my Facebook page. Every time someone liked or commented on the post, I would hear a crowd cheering on my run. Each time I heard the cheering, it put a big smile on my face!
I do wish that the app had an option to program in run/walk intervals as I’m not a continuous runner. I also would have liked see an auto pause option for the times when I had to stop unexpectedly. It wasn’t always easy to reach into my pocket and pause the run, only to restart it shortly after. I just let the clock keep running while I was stopped for traffic. Finally, even though I had connected my Facebook and Twitter, I couldn’t get the app to post a run summary to either account. I was able to do it once on my desktop but not from the app itself.
Overall, I was pleasantly surprised by the Nike+ Running app which I’m going to keep using as a backup for my Garmin watch which has died on occasion after I’ve forgotten to charge it before my run. And it definitely gets a thumbs up for being free so that you can get into running without spending a lot of cash on gadgets. So for anyone thinking, they need to spend a lot of money on a GPS watch, no more excuses. Download the app and just get out there! Here’s how it compares to my Garmin 610.
As for the virtual 10K, I ended up running 7 miles because it was such a nice day out! And brunch was a blast and it’s especially nice to have friends who don’t mind waiting for you and eating around your training schedule!