Behind-the-Scenes with Nick Onken

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Photographer Nick Onken is currently in Latin America on a three-week assignment for Nike Running. Details on his project are thin, but this behind-the-scenes video gives us some clues. Enjoy.

TrailRunner: Mac Software that Routes your Runs

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TrailRunner screenshot

We’ve discussed how to use an online pedometer to map and route your runs. Now there’s a new piece of Mac software that promises similar functionality with a much richer interface and a great set of features.

TrailRunner is a freeware application offered by Berbie Software.

“TrailRunner is a route planning software for all kinds of long distance sports . . . . TrailRunner can calculate a route for your desired distance and export directions onto your iPod, giving you a detailed orientation while you are on your way.”

TrailRunner is compatible with the Garmin Forerunner products, promising the ability to “display and manage workouts . . . directly from Garmin Training Center.” Support for the Nike+ Sport kit is available as well. The feature list is too long and too rich to include here, so head over to the TrailRunner home page to check it out for yourself.

At first blush, TrailRunner seemed to be the one killer app I’d like to use to map and manage my run data. The fact that it’s only available for the Mac is a deal killer for me.

Are you using TrailRunner? Let us know in the comments how you like it and if you’d recommend it to the rest of us.

Nike Dumps Crispin for Weiden

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According to various online reports, Nike has dumped ad agency Crispin Porter + Bogusky after a brief 13-month relationship. According to AdvertisingAge, “Nike is shifting its running-shoe and Nike-Plus business back to lead agency Wieden & Kennedy.” While this won’t make much practical difference to us in the short term, the single most interesting item about this is that Crispin Porter was apparently working on the Nike+ website. I’ve stated before the Nike+ site is prettier than it is functional, and an interview with Nike’s Chris Shimojima seems to point at some coming changes to the site. I’m hoping that dumping Crispin for Wieden may help speed that process a bit.

The Lighter Side of Nike+

Nike+ 2 Comments »

Great products frequently inspire great parodies. Here are two of my favorites, followed by my favorite viral Nike+ video. Enjoy the lighter side of Nike+.

That’s your power song?

When I’m running, I hear music . . .

Man Boobs

Winning the War on Smelly Shoes

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Smelly shoes are an occupational hazard for all runners. While it’s generally acceptable for your running shoes to smell a little less fresh than the rest of your footwear, no one likes to have a pair of rancid sneakers hiding in the closet. The problem is even worse for guys like myself who don’t own a second pair of casual athletic shoes. I’ve got a nice pair of boots, some dress shoes for work, and then my running shoes. Let’s just say I have to think twice before wearing my running shoes to work on casual Friday.

So how does one win the war on smelly shoes? I’ve scoured the internet for solutions so that you don’t have to, and I’m listing my favorites below.

Invest in a Shoe Dryer

A shoe dryer is a nifty device that uses thermal convection to dry out your footwear. I picked one up years ago when I purchased a nice pair of boots, but I’ve found that it works just as well with any pair of shoes I throw at it. A shoe dryer is one of my favorite ways to keep all of my shoes comfortable and smelling fresh.

Cat Litter and Knee Socks

Sure, this sounds a little weird, but isn’t cat litter intended to kill odors and soak up wetness? Why shouldn’t it work just as well for your smelly shoes as it does for it’s other smelly chore? Simply grab yourself some long socks, fill ‘em with cat litter, tie off the ends, and stick ‘em in your shoes overnight. When you get up the next morning you’ll find that your shoes are nice and dry. Just make sure that you find a scented litter with an agreeable scent, as you’ll likely be catching a whiff throughout the day.

Also recommended: dryer sheets and baby powder.

Put your Shoes in the Freezer

This one sounds weirder than kitty litter in a sock, but think about it for a second. Bacteria is what makes your shoes smell, and bacteria doesn’t survive long in the cold. Grab yourself a large Ziploc bag, seal your shoes inside, and place them in the freezer overnight. Kids, get your parents permission for this one. Mom probably won’t look too kindly on shoes in the freezer unless you’ve given her a heads up first.

Other tips: antibacterial insoles, drying shoes in the sun.

Wicking Fabrics for your Feet

We all know that wicking fabrics are a lot better than cotton for outdoor sports. Using wicking fabric in socks can help keep your feet a lot dryer than they would be otherwise. I picked up some New Balance socks a while back and, while they’re not perfect, they’re a lot more comfortable for exercise and daily wear than 100% cotton socks. And, if you’re not into synthetic wicking materials, try out these bamboo socks. Wicking socks won’t solve the smelly shoe problem, but it does help, and it makes things much more comfortable for the sweaty-footed among us.

Have any of these tips helped out? Have I missed a tip that I should have included? Head down to the comments and let us know!

Taking Advantage of the Nike+ API

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Using the Nike+ website to track your runs is fast, easy, and rewarding. Go on a run, upload your data, and you’ve got immediate access to graphs, analysis, run comparisons, and more - everything a gadget runner could want. Well, maybe not everything.

There are those who take issue with the manner in which Nike displays the uploaded run information. The run graphs are pretty, but they’re not terribly accurate. The site is 100% Flash, as are the widgets that they provide for your blog (see the 400mToGo challenges page, for example). It frequently takes hours before your run data is reflected in your challenges. I could go on.

If you’re unhappy with what Nike+ provides, and you’re geeky enough (or determined enough) to strike out on your own, there are a couple of options. While Nike+ doesn’t advertise their API (correct me if I’m wrong on this one), a public API does exist. Every bit of the run data that you upload to the Nike+ site is available for retrieval, for you to do with as you will.

Runner+

An excellent example of the Nike+ API in action is Runner+, a third party website for Nike+ data analysis. While they use the same data that the Nike folks do, they present it a little differently, the biggest difference being in the way they chart your runs. Runner+ also features personal profiles, lively forums, challenges, and running groups. The team and the community over at Runner+ are a great bunch of folks. I highly recommend visiting.

If you’d rather strike out on your own, below are three options to consider.

Nike+ iPod Stats Wordpress Plugin

Mark Rickert over at ear-fung.us has whipped up the Nike+ iPod Stats WordPress plugin that will display your stats on your WordPress blog. Mark has provided excellent instructions for getting the plugin up and running, including a copy-and-paste code snippet to insert in your template for those who aren’t comfortable typing in the code themselves.

Rasmus Lerdorf’s NikePlus API

For those of you who are confident in your coding skills and want more control over the display and analysis of your data, PHP’s very own Rasmus Lerdorf put together a PHP5 implementation of the Nike+ API. Grab the code here, read his comments about Nike+, including brief comments on the API, here, and check out another write up, with an example of the SimpleXML object the code returns, here.

Eric Wroolie’s C#Nike+ API

For those who are more comfortable on the .NET side of the house, Eric Wroolie has put together an implementation of the Nike+ API in C#. Included is a discussion of the difficulties he faced in getting the code to work along and some code snippets. While the full implementation isn’t linked in the article, Eric has kindly offered to email it to anyone who requests a copy.

Review Roundup: Garmin’s Forerunner 405

Reviews, Technology 6 Comments »

The Garmin 405 has been on the market for a few weeks now, and runners have had enough time with the product to start sharing their impressions. Below is a selection of reviews that I’ve rounded up for your reading pleasure. Enjoy!

Let me know in the comments if I’ve missed a review I should have included. Do you have a 405? Let us know what you think!

Day One Review: Garmin Forerunner 405 watch, GPS fitness done right

Its ability to acquire GPS satellites is noticeably improved. In fact, it was able to get a fix while we were still indoors, showing us the correct time within minutes of charging. When we went outside, it was ready to start tracking our 1km test walking route. Along the way, it didn’t drop the GPS signal once, even though we were walking under numerous trees. And the heart-rate monitor literally didn’t miss a beat.

Training - Forerunner 405

Tune in as Jake, avid runner and spokesperson for Garmin, gives you a simple overview of the hottest fitness watch on the streets and trails — the GPS-enabled Forerunner 405.

Review: Garmin Forerunner 405 HRM

I’ve been testing out the features of the Garmin watch for the past week and am very satisfied with the purchase. Unfortunately, I don’t have any experience with the Forerunner 305 so I can’t make any direct comparisons with the 405’s predecessor. Below are a few aspects of the 405 that were most important to me as a runner.

Garmin Forerunner 405

I am still happy with my Forerunner 305 but the Forerunner 405 does look sexier. The difference is not as great as the style improvement between the Forerunner 301.

Garmin Forerunner 405 first impressions & review

Hey, it now looks like a watch instead of a PDA on my wrist! With that being said, I am not as impressed with the size of it that I thought I would be. It’s still a gigantic watch. In fact, if you hold the 305 and the 405 next to each other side-by-side, they are the same exact thickness!

Garmin associate puts Forerunner 405 to the test at Disney

The 405 was the easiest one for me to see and be able to watch my pace and heart rate zone. As much as I have loved the 305, I think the 405 in a very short time has taken the place in my heart where the 305 used to live.

Lost and Found: How I Recovered A Missing Nike+ Run

Nike+, Technology, Tips 13 Comments »

The Case of the Missing Run

I went out for a quick two mile run this weekend, running with my Nike+ Sport Kit as always. When I went to upload my run data, I plugged in my iPod, launched iTunes, and nothing happened. Nothing! iTunes never gave me the “Your run data has been uploaded . . .” message, and my latest run didn’t show up on the Nike+ website. I knew that the run was recorded in my iPod - I could tell by viewing the Totals data listed in the History section of the Nike+iPod menu (Nike+iPod -> History -> Totals) - but no matter what I did, I couldn’t get the run to upload.

I tried the usual tricks: Close and open iTunes, unmount and mount the iPod, relentlessly Google the symptoms. While my Google searches turned up a lot of great tips, nothing seemed to match my particular situation. Thankfully, I was able to learn enough from the troubleshooting steps to resolve my problem and upload the missing run.

Read the rest of this entry »

400mToGo Challenges Are Now Public

Challenges, Nike+, Running 2 Comments »

400mToGo Challenges

We’ve been showing off our private Nike+ challenges since 400mToGo went live. The invite-only challenges began well before 400mToGo was a twinkle in Scott’s eye, and it’s been a blast sharing them with you. While the invite-only challenges have been a lot of fun for our friends and family, the 400mToGo team has decided we want to spread the challenge joy. Starting this month, all of the 400mToGo challenges will be open to the public.

Challenge Categories

The monthly challenge categories are Most Miles, Fastest 1 Mile, Fastest 3K, Fastest 5K, and Fastest 10K. We’ll also be opening up our Most Miles 2008 challenge. If you think you’re up for it, head over to the Challenges page and join up!

April’s Winners

Congrats to deewiles (400mToGo’s very own Cory) for winning the Most Miles April 2008 challenge. Major kudos to derekjmorris, a running machine, who swept the remaining April challenges. Keep up the hard work, guys. Things are about to get a lot more challenging.