Friday, January 17, 2014

Nike+ Sportwatch GPS Review

On Wednesday, I had a fantastic run. Earlier in the week I had gotten a surprise in the mail; Seth had ordered me a gift: a Nike+ Sportswatch GPS!

As you may have read in my most recent post, I want to really focus on my running with great intentionality this year. I want to get faster. To that end, over the last two weeks, I can gotten down a really good running schedule:

Mondays: Speed work. Last Monday I did an interval run, fartlek style, with a 10:00 mile "base pace" and then fast runs at 8:57. I did this on the treadmill, which was good for keeping pace. This Monday I did an interval treadmill workout, HIIT-style, where I incorporated speed and hills and took walk breaks to recover.

Wednesdays: Hills. Last week I did hill repeats on the treadmill again (thought I think hills are best done outside). I did eight hills at 10:31 pace and 5.0 incline. I did one minute up and one minute "down" to recover. This week, I decided to not do hills since I had done so many on Monday. I had a very exciting run outside where I ran super fast all thanks to being very focused and using my fancy watch (more on that later). I did a mile warm-up, a mile with random intervals, and then the last mile basically as fast as I could.

Fridays or Saturday: Long run. I haven't been doing many long long runs lately, so I did 5 miles last Friday and 5.5 miles this Friday. I'm trying to do these runs a little faster than I used to and focus carefully on form! I was a little tired on today's run from my intense effort on Wednesday, but this was good in a way because it let me practice my mental toughness. I kept persevering through the run, telling myself, "You can do it." It worked -- I was able to finish strong.

So the GPS watch. I took the Nike+ Sportwatch out for its first go on Wednesday. I used to bring my cell on my runs and track myself that way using the Nike+ app and listening to music. With my focus on speed, I didn't want to have to carry anything on my runs, and I didn't want to listen to music -- I wanted 100% of my focus on my running -- speed, form, effort. In this way the watch was great!

It was easy to get the watch up and running (no pun intended) quickly. In the box, you got the following items: 
  • GPS watch
  • Senor pod: For putting in Nike shoes -- this doubles to track your movements if you're out of range of the GPS)
  • USB cord: For uploading data to the Nike+ website and charging the watch
  • Directions booklet

The watch's functions include:
  • Distance
  • Pace
  • Average pace
  • Time elapsed
  • Laps (tracked via a tap function on the screen)
  • Stop watch
  • Calories
  • Clock
  • History and Records

The watch is very easy to use with only three buttons. Two for up and down, and one for select.

It's easy to get started running. Put the watch on your wrist, select "run" on the menu, let the GPS sync (which takes only a few seconds), and you're good to go.

The watch lets you chose what data you want to see on the main screen. There are two main areas where you can see data: a smaller display on the top, where you can scroll through data as your run using the up and down buttons, and a larger main display. You can make these customization using the Nike+ console when you plug your watch into the computer.

For my large display, I chose to see distance. For the main metric for the smaller display, I chose to see current pace, since this is what I am most focused on. Other popular options for the smaller display might be time elapsed or average pace. I have those metrics, plus a few others as options for viewing on the top menu -- I would just have to scroll to see them using the side buttons.

The watch also has functions for tracking laps and a stop watch. These two features use the tap technology. In order to track, you tap once on the screen to start and once to stop. This is also the method for activating the backlight. You have to tap briskly and firmly. The watch is not a touch screen. It took me a little while to get the hang of this, and it might be frustrating for tracking laps. I will need to practice this a bit more.

When you plug in your watch after a run, you get an entire host of data from the Nike+ website. A word of warning: the Nike+ website seems to have trouble with Chrome. Why a world-class company like Nike can't get their site to work on Chrome is beyond me. Firefox works fine though.

The data you get from Nike+ includes:
  • Route tracking
  • Elevation
  • Pace
  • Distance, time, calories, and NikeFuel (Nike's proprietary method of measuring movement for all activities)
  • Splits
  • Notes section

The map tracking your route and the pace and elevation sections are interactive. You can move your mouse along the pace chart, for instance and see where you were on your route and what the pace was. It was interesting to track the intervals I ran on the pace chart. Both this and the splits section are my favorite parts. It's important to note that this same data is available if you are using the Nike+ app on your cell phone.

At a first glance, I really enjoy the Nike+ Sportwatch. I like it's ease of use, how it allows for customization, and the easy to read display, which gives me what I need to know at a glance on my run.

This goes without saying, but I also like that it's on my wrist -- no need to carry my cell anymore. I can really concentrate on running as hard as I can and use my watch to easily track my results. The Nike+ Sportwatch looks to be an excellent tool for running.

At $140, it's a good choice for someone just getting into GPS watching. It might not have all the bells and whistles of a $400 watch, but it gives you what you need, and it provides it well and efficiently. I am excited to continue using the Nike+ GPS watch to track my progress as I continue with my training.

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