Technology-enabled Training

I'm not sure how people used to determine how far they'd run when training for a race. Drive your car around the block? Count your steps and multiply by your stride length? It sounds like a tedious, imprecise science, and I'm glad to have technology on my side. But even that has proved challenging.

When I moved to Atlanta, I at first depended on Google's walking directions to map out a path and figure the distance. They're quite reliable and the site is obviously easy to use. My only complaint is that it can get messy if I decide to deviate from what I researched because 1) the path is obstructed 2) something/someone seems sketch 3) I had the walk symbol in another direction or 4) I was feeling spontaneous.

Lucky me, when I, for the first time ever, went to get fitted for running shoes (I went to Phidippides in Ansley Mall, and they were fabulous. I highly recommend a visit!), I ended up with the Nike Air Max Moto, which featureds a built-in nook for Nike + iPod. It wasn't compatible with my iPod Video, but six months later, I scored an iPod Nano and was off to the races ... sort of. The product itself is great - it's like a souped-up pedometer that tracks your steps, time and distance, it compiles your running over time and can be synced with Nike.com. I have three complaints. First, the physical design is lacking. You have to plug a sensor into the iPod to talk to the sensor in your shoe. The sensor is so small, it's hard to keep track of/remember to take to the gym with you. Plus, tracker in your shoe has a battery that cannot be replaced, so when it dies, you have to go drop another $40 on a new set (reviews said it lasts about one year, but I have had mine for three with very limited use). Second, no iPod armband (at least that I could find) is designed to work with the sensor, so I actually had to turn my armband upside down so my Nano wouldn't fall out since the case no longer closed. Third, the calibration never seemed to get my pace down so I never trusted the accuracy of its end-of-run report.

Thankfully, I have found a solution to my problems! I joined the iPhone world last month when I started my new job, and the App Store has changed my life. Nike + GPS takes the Nike + iPod software to a whole new level, and it uses GPS rather than your steps to track your run. The result is more accurate, comprehensive tracking of your runs over time. I'm in love, and it was totally worth the $1.99. One of my favorite features is the map that shows your pace along your route - it is helping me as I learn to keep a consistent pace throughout my now six-mile daily runs. There are features to compete with friends, sync with social media and other items I haven't used - but it is sufficient to say that it's an extremely robust and well-thought app. I'm sure my feelings will change when something new and exciting comes out, but for now, I'm content!

How are you using technology to enhance your workouts?

Image via Apple

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