My “yayyoufinishedyourthesis” present from my husband was an ipod nano. I began hinting for it a few months in advance, and Scott was (understandably) confused. “You want…what? Do you even listen to music?” The answers to those questions are “YES, ABSOLUTELY!” and “I will now.” The problem, I discovered after several short-lived attempts to get back into running, is that will is not enough. I’d managed to dig myself a deep “out of shape” hole after two years of nearly no physical activity. Running hurt. I was slow. Very, very slow. Did I mention that it HURT? Worse still, my brain remembered what it was like to be a collegiate athlete, and the comparison between then and now hurt almost worse than the physical pain. Then there’s the loneliness. I’d been spoiled after eight years of running with a team. There was always someone to talk to! Combine the pain with the embarrassment and the boredom, and it’s a tough mountain to climb.
Enter the ipod nano. Motivational tool. Wonderful distractor. Cherished friend. My nano is a second generation, 4GB, lovely green machine that I like to call Nanobot. (Sidenote: I have an affinity for naming inanimate objects. Our computer is Gandalf. My car is Rambo. The car before that was Sapo Verde. The one before that was Pierre…and “random” is my middle name.) The primary reason we chose the nano (aside from the fact that it’s really, really pretty) is the running accessory you can use with it. It’s called Nike Plus, and it’s a $30 sensor/receiver that records distance, pace, and calories burned. The sensor goes on or in your shoe, depending on whether you spend $90 on the official Nike shoes or attach it underneath the laces of a different shoe. Gotta love velcro. 😀 It’s basically a pedometer, and should be calibrated at a track so it records distance accurately. Mine is accurate within 0.02 miles, which I’m pretty impressed with. The sensor relays data to a receiver, which plugs into the nano. You can set it so that either a male or female voice tells you the time, distance, and pace of your run. I chose the fella. I call him Bill (for Bowerman). There is *also* (thanks, Pam…almost forgot about this!) a built-in encouragement function. If I set a speed (for a mile, 1k, or 5k) or distance PR I am congratulated…by either Lance Armstrong or Paula Radcliffe. Whoa! Although I feel like I need to call Paula and tell her that my fastest mile isn’t really 7:15, lol. Nike+ data is uploaded to a website every time you charge your ipod. You can chart your progress, enter “challenges,” set goals, all kinds of fun stuff.
I love my ipod/nike+ combo. I fully admit that my feelings for it are edging towards the obsessive. But I don’t care! It has helped me tremendously. I have to give it most of the credit for the past 7 months of consistent running. Since getting the ipod, I’ve gotten my long run back up to 16. I run 4-6 days a week. I’ve gotten my training pace under 9:00…which while not back to the “college” standard is a perfectly acceptable “old runner” time. I’ve competed in a 5k and a 10 mile race, placing 5th and 4th in my age group, respectively. Hope lives.
Like any good thing, there is a negative side. The sensor battery is not replaceable. When it dies, I’ll have to buy a new one. The battery is supposed to last 2 years, and I haven’t had any indications that this is anything other than true. A bigger problem I’ve discovered recently is accuracy. When I was doing nothing but easy runs everything was working great. Change up the stride length, however, such as for a threshhold run or a race, and the accuracy suffers. In the 10 mile race, Nike+ only recorded 9.5 miles. I’m not sure how to fix this, but it doesn’t bother me too much. I won’t be wearing it in most of my races.
Negatives aside, I heart my nano/nike+. If I was inclined to sing about my favorite things, it would top the list.