RunKeeper Pro

Technology Add a Comment »

We mentioned RunKeeper, an iPhone application to track all your runs, back in August last year, but since then the application has grown from strength to strength. So much so in fact, that there is now a Pro version available in the Apple iPhone App Store. But wait, here’s the best part — the application is completely free for 24 hours! Grab it for free while you can.

RunKeeper

Running, Technology 2 Comments »

RunKeeper for the iPhone

With the release of the 3G iPhone last month, developers have been frantically producing applications for the public, so it was only a matter of time before a decent running application came along that utilizes the GPS capabilities of the iPhone. RunKeeper is an application currently in development that will allow iPhone runners to track speed, pace, running history, and also has the ability to map runs using GPS. If you are an iPhone owner you might want to hold off on any secondary GPS device until RunKeeper is released. View a video preview on the official RunKeeper Web site, or keep tabs on the latest news via the RunKeeper blog.

Fly Like the Wind

Running Add a Comment »

Keep an eye out for new Nike footwear when the 2008 Olympic games kicks off this weekend in Beijing. The Nike Flywire running shoe has been supplied to the US track and field team and weighs in at an incredibly light 96.3g per pair. An even lighter version known as the Zoom Victory Spikes weighs just 90.7g and has been specially developed for middle distance runners (800m). Hopefully the shoe will play a part in the success of the US athletes Olympic mission, but either way, the new shoes, which were inspired by the same material that suspension bridge cables/wire use, will be available to the public in the fall.

Garmin Forerunner 305 vs Nike+ Sport Kit

Nike+, Reviews, Running, Technology 1 Comment »

Last month my wife brought home a Garmin Forerunner 305 that her company wanted her to test out.  She didn’t have the time or the energy to test it herself, so she asked me if I would be their guinea pig.  I couldn’t jump in that mouse maze fast enough!  It was the perfect opportunity to perform a head-to-head comparison of the Garmin Forerunner 305 vs the Nike+ Sport Kit.

The calibration for the Garmin took about two minutes.  You have to be outside when you turn the Forerunner on so it can sync with the GPS satellites.  After I zeroed everything out and strapped on the heart monitor, I was off to the races.

The course that I ran was relatively straight and covered a distance of 1.2 miles.  When I finished the Garmin had recorded a distance of 1.27 miles and the Nike+ chip had recorded a distance of 1.19 files.

So, at the end of the run, which one was better?

Unfortunately there isn’t a definitive answer, not from this weekend warrior.  Personally, I prefer the Nike+ chip because:

  • It has an easy setup
  • The music
  • Better online community
  • Less hardware to manage
  • Much cheaper

However, the Garmin Forerunner 305 does have:

  • Heart rate monitor
  • GPS mapping
  • Lap history
  • Slightly more accurate distance

I would recommend the Garmin Forerunner for the serious, hardcore athlete who models their training after a chapter in Lance Armstrong’s book.  For the everyday runner, I can’t endorse the Nike+ Sport Kit enough.  For the price, I don’t think you can beat the Nike+ experience.

Nike+ Running Shoes Ahead of the Pack

Nike+, Running, Running Shorts Add a Comment »

The Detroit Free Press reported results on Tuesday of the 2008 Consumer Reports running shoe survey. Top of the list? The Nike Air Zoom Vomero+ series available for both men and women.

The survey, which involved testers running a total of 1,240 miles on 205 pairs of running shoes, rated shoes based on stability, cushioning, fit, weight, breathability and flexibility. Here are the official top three winners:

1. Nike Air Zoom Vomero+
2. Brooks Glycerin 6
3. Adidas Supernova Cushion 7

Run to the Beat

Music & Audio, Running Add a Comment »

Run to the Beat

Listening to music via your iPod when you run is more than just multitasking or an opportunity to listen to music you simply enjoy. There’s actually a science behind how music can motivate and inspire a runner to greater achievement.

Recent research has shown that although music does not reduce the perception of effort during high intensity runs, it does improve the experience of the run. So while listening to music will not necessarily make a run any easier, it’s likely that the overall experience will be pleasurable, and may even trick the mind into believing that your body is not as fatigued as it really is.

Costas Karageorghis, a sports psychologist at Brunel University and head of the Music in Sport Research Group, has been investigating the influence of music on exercise performance for almost 20 years. He is so convinced of the positive effects of music while running that he has helped mastermind Run to the Beat. This unique, half marathon race will take place in London on October 5 which aims to be the first race of its kind that will play carefully selected music at 16 points along the event’s 13-mile route in order to motivate and inspire runners.

“Our research has shown that lively, upbeat music stimulates the part of the brain associated with locomotion - the motor cortex,” says Costas Karageorghis. “It also needs to have a strong rhythm and, ideally, should have some association with physical activity, either through the lyrics or by association.”

Simply listening to fast music on its own however won’t magically make you become a fast runner. To really benefit, runners should listen to music with a tempo similar to the pace at which they intend to run, so that a runner’s stride can be synchronized with the rhythm of the music. A perfect example of this was when two-time 10km Olympic champion Haile Gebrselassie, from Ethiopia, reputedly listened to the song Scatman by Scatman John when Gerbselassie broke the world indoor 2km record 1998. This song has around 135 beats per minute.

So next time you’re preparing your playlist in iTunes before you go out on a run, make sure your music is carefully selected. Good tunes with the right bpm might not only make your run more enjoyable, but may even shave a few extra seconds off your personal best.

More information:
Run to the Beat race site
Tune in, work out (The Guardian newspaper)

Going for Gold

Running 3 Comments »

Jordan Desilets, going for gold

An update to this article was posted on July 6, 2008.

We are delighted and honored to have had the opportunity to interview US-based steeplechase athlete Jordan Desilets. 27 year-old Jordan from Michigan in the United States is a national champion and will be taking part in the 2008 US Olympic Trials later this month. If successful, Jordan will be representing his country in the ultimate athlete’s dream — the summer Olympic games, which take place this year in Beijing, China.

  • Thanks for taking the time to answer our questions, Jordan! Could you give our readers some background information about your running level and experience?
    I started running the mile in the 4th grade and still hold the elementary record. In high school, I had a mile time of 4:15, and a 5k time of 15:16. I moved on to Eastern Michigan University where I was coached by John Goodridge and dropped my time to a 3:59 mile, 1:51 800m, 8:24 Steeplechase, 13:52 5k, and a 29:17 10k. I was a national champion in the steeplechase in 2004, and 6th at the 2004 Olympic Trials. I ran pro for 3 years for Reebok. I am now qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials in the Steeplechase and hope to fair well there.
  • What distances and races do you typically run?
    Mid-to-long distance, the mile, 3000m Steeplechase, 5,000m and 10,000m.
  • How often do you train?
    6-7 days a week.
  • What time of day do you prefer to run?
    In Michigan summers, I run first thing in the morning or at night… no one wants to run when it’s 90 out with 100% humidity.
  • Do you eat a special diet?
    Nope…but I probably should. :)
  • What advice would you give to runners wanting to improve their times and run faster?For most road warriors (weekend 5k runners), the biggest problem is that they don’t get on the track enough… They typically have a dedicated running regiment of a few miles per day but never actually get on the track for a work out. Running miles can only build-up your endurance strength, but workouts on the track will get you muscular strong. Even if you’re only getting on the track once a week and doing a simple work out of 8 X 400m with about 90 seconds rest, it will improve your racing substantially. Rest and the pace of a workout are very important. The rest and pace should always be accurate to the second to insure consistency when performing the same work out, this will help you judge your body’s small improvements over time. If you have a 5k goal of 15:37, which is 5:00 mile pace, then you should be performing your 400m reps. at 73-74 seconds, which is just a tad faster than goal pace. If you complete this workout with ease, then the next step would be to knock the rest down to 60 seconds instead of 90. Then, if this one went well, you can drop the 400m times to 71-72 and bump the rest up to 90 seconds again… Rinse and repeat!
  • What’s the best piece of running advice anyone has given you?
    Keep running!!! I applied this advice one time when my legs went numb and I was trying to finish my mile in under 4 minutes.
  • What motivates you to keep running?
    The desire to always want to better myself. I always have to set several small attainable goals so I can inch forward every race. When I first started running the steeplechase, I started at Olympics and worked my way back to slower and slower goals until I had a list of about 20 different goals, all for the steeplechase. I think one was the school record, maybe a few meet records, and some surrounding track records of places that I raced at often.
  • What goes through your mind immediately before a race starts?
    Lately its been “I’m just happy to be here.” After two foot surgeries in back-to-back years and over a year-off from running - and now having qualified for the 2008 Olympic Trials - I am happy to be here. Every race seems like a blessing… until about 3 laps to go and my legs are jello, heh, heh!
  • Do you use any running technology, such as Nike+, Polar, Garmin etc… to track your times and/or heart rate?
    No.
  • Do you use any Web sites or computer applications to store and analyze any of your running data?
    No, but I was thinking about trying the Nike Web site. My wife uses Nike+ and it looks kinda neat. As for now, it’s standard running logs.
  • Do you stick with the same brand of running shoe all the time, if so, which one and why?
    No. All through college our sponsors kept changing so I ran in Mizunos and Adidas. I then got sponsored by Reebok coming out of college - just this past year I got a few pairs of Adidas and Brooks. I would have to say my favorite shoes were either Mizunos or the Adidas shoes. As for spikes, I actually bought a bunch of Adistar Steeple from 2001 that I still run in.
  • How often do you buy new running shoes?Well, the general rule of thumb is 500 miles or if you alternate day-by-day you can get 700 miles on a pair of shoes. I normally just wear them until they don’t feel good anymore or the tread becomes decently worn.
  • Do you have sponsorship? If a potential sponsor is reading this, would you like them to contact you to discuss sponsorship?
    As of now, I do not have any sponsorship but I would absolutely love one. As I said above, I have currently qualified for the Olympic Trials, which begin at the end of June through early July, and I am raising money through friends and family to help get me out to Eugene, OR. If anyone would like to sponsor me they can most definitely contact me. Here are a few track web sites for reference: http://www.eugene08.com/, www.usatf.org, www.iaaf.org
  • What events or athletes are you most looking forward to seeing at this year’s Olympics?
    I always watch the Olympics. I just love the whole process from opening to closing ceremony. I will be watching for anyone I know to be out there. It would be nice to see if Bolt can break the 200m record or re-break his new world record in the 100m. I would like to see someone break up Kenya’s 1-2-3 steeplechase sweep.
  • What are your running goals / dreams / ambitions?
    My goals are to make an Olympic team either this year or in 2012, make a world team, get sponsored again, race in Europe, hold an American record, and never get injured again :-)

If you would like to follow Jordan’s quest to represent the United States in the 2008 Olympics, here are some links to the event schedule and television schedule:

TV Schedule | Event Schedule

A Change of Pace

Running, Tips Add a Comment »

Ever since I purchased my Nike+ kit I’ve been relying on the collected data not only for motivation, but to track my training as well. I’m currently on hiatus from any serious training until June, when I start training for the St. Jude Memphis Marathon. My fellow bloggers and I have all expressed the need to train smart. Part of my “smart” training strategy is to give my body a break - especially my knees.

My current regimen now consists of three types of running:

  1. Up to 4 miles outside
  2. Running to the gym (~1.12 miles from my house), working out, and then running home
  3. Up to 4 miles on the treadmill

This has been my routine since early March and it feels great. My knees are holding up and I haven’t had any problems with motivation due to the fact that each workout is different.

This change of pace is helping keep me on track.

Milestone Motivation

Running Add a Comment »

One feature I would like Nike to readdress is the way Nike+ rewards runners with certificates on the Nike+ Web site.

Presently, Nike+ e-mails customized achievement awards to Nike+ members when runners reach certain mileage markers. It’s a great idea and a great way to motivate and congratulate runners of all abilities. At the moment however, certificates are only sent out when runners reach the 100, 500, and 1,000 mile milestones.

I ran my first 100 miles with Nike+ on February 6, 2007 and did not complete 500 miles until over 11 months later on January 19, 2008. That means I went almost an entire year without any extra motivation from Nike+, a long time if you are a novice or beginner runner who needs as much motivation as possible.

It would seem a smart move for Nike to maintain the user’s interest in healthy exercise and to keep them coming back to the Nike+ experience. My suggestion would be to distribute certificates every 50 miles instead of at the 100, 500 and 1,000 mile mark. I think this would reach out more to the average runner and typical Nike+ user who may only run or walk approximately 25 miles per month. Knowing that each additional milestone of 50 miles brings with it a certificate of achievement could really help motivate some people to continue running over a longer period of time.

5 Ways to Cheat at Nike+ Challenges

Challenges, Nike+, Running, Technology 11 Comments »

Gasp! You mean you can cheat technology?! You can, yes, but it’s not only morally wrong, it also won’t help you to become a better runner. We weren’t sure whether to publish this article or not because we certainly don’t condone any of these tactics, but just to prove that it is possible for an insidious runner to cheat the system and to highlight potential cheating with the Nike+ system, we’re going to share these ideas with you.

  1. CREATE IMAGINARY RUNS
    Can’t be bothered to run, but you want to win a challenge? Simply use the Nike Plus Edit Web site to quickly create an XML file based on your imaginary 50-mile run before work today. Add the XML file to your iPod, and then before you know it, iTunes has uploaded your mileage to your open challenge(s). Pure evil personified! ;)
  2. TRICK iTUNES
    Did your run not go so well today? Wanted to run 10 miles but only ran two? No problem! Edit your most recent run before you upload it to Nike+, and trick iTunes into publishing your pretend workout!
  3. CALIBRATION
    Calibrate your Nike+ incorrectly, on purpose. Tell your iPod that you are going to calibrate over one mile, but only run half a mile. Oh how impressed your friends will be when you slash your personal bests by 40% over the space of a few days!
  4. MULTIPLE IPODS
    Why use one iPod when you can have two, or even three?! Attach a sensor to each running shoe and BOOM! A 10-mile run suddenly becomes a 20-mile upload. Slightly expensive, admittedly, but people with a lot of money are probably more likely to cheat than those who do not, don’t you think?
  5. WEAR NIKE+ ALL THE TIME
    This is the least serious way to cheat as technically, it does involve exercise that you are responsible for. Simply wear your Nike+ device wherever you go! Walking around the house, strolling around the mall or the grocery store, all those footsteps soon add up! But why stop the evilness there? If a friend or a relative is going out somewhere, attach your chip to their shoes and ask them to record their mileage on your behalf!

Remember, you can cheat all you want online, but when it comes down to that real race against real people, we will all know who has been telling the truth and who has not. Be warned! :)