Tag Archive for nike+

RunKeeper vs Nike+: Running App Smackdown

I’m a geek. If I didn’t have some way to track my running and see progress to give me some incentive, I probably wouldn’t be running. (And I still don’t run as often as I should, but I’m working on it.) When I discovered Nike+, I was sold. I get to run, listen to music and track my runs all at once. I’ve never been a fan of their Flash-driven interface, though, and I had frequent login problems. The screensaver and little Mini avatar crapped out a lot, too.

This summer, some running friends told me about RunKeeper. I used Nike+ on my iPod, so I didn’t have GPS. RunKeeper, meanwhile, has apps for both Android and iOS, and my Android phone does GPS beautifully. But I still had my little Nike+ gizmo in my shoe, so I kept plugging away until those shoes finally crapped out.

That’s when the good folks at Running Central set me up with a pair of Mizuno shoes. I didn’t want to mess with some little pouch to attach to my shoe for the Nike+ sensor, so I gave RunKeeper a shot.

After just one run, I gave up on Nike+ forever. Sure, it has coaching options and a social networking side just like Nike+, but it blows Nike out of the water in several areas.

First of all, RunKeeper has a much cleaner interface. No Flash garbage to slow things down, and the moment you log in you see all of your recent runs. You get a lot more flexible access to the data, and with GPS, you even get a cool interactive map that will even let you see your running data at any point along your route.

Second, the app just runs. The Nike+ iOS app has given me fits, and at times has just locked up completely when I tried to turn it off. I also have to sync through iTunes for my runs to appear on Nike+, where RunKeeper shoots it right up to the RunKeeper server.

Third, while RunKeeper gives me similar audio feedback to Nike+, RunKeeper also sends me an email if I’ve set a personal record or had a better run during a given week. It’s a small thing, but it’s a cool extra little encouragement.

Finally, RunKeeper is lot more flexible with its activities. I may not ever use it to bike or swim, but apparently it will work just fine for those activities.

I’ve only used it a few times now, but I love it. I always carry my phone and iPod while I run anyway, so now the phone has a function instead of just bouncing along in my pocket in case of emergencies. Now I still have my iPod for music, or I can choose to abandon it altogether if I don’t feel like tunes for that day (for example, I’d rather not have earbuds in on a busy road).

If you run at all or are considering taking it up, definitely check out RunKeeper. I’m using the free version and am having no problems with it.

And with that, I’ll leave you with the music that got me through the last leg of my run this morning.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Run For It!

What keeps me running?

As stupid as it sounds, it’s this guy:

I keep this Nike+ avatar on my screen saver and on my Facebook page. When I run, he’s happy. When I don’t, he gets bored and makes smartass comments while he plays paddle ball or video games. They’re subtle jabs, but man, I hate seeing them.

I really didn’t feel like running tonight. I was nodding off in front of the tube, the ground is saturated and mushy, I had some email to take care of… pick an excuse and it ran through my head. I had my laptop nearby, and when I jerked awake I noticed the screensaver had come on. There was the little guy, running right along. He was happy for the moment, but I didn’t run for a few days due to travel and the rain, so he wouldn’t be happy for long. I finally decided to suck it up, grab my sneakers and iPod, and hit the track.

Half an hour later I limped back to the house, sore and drenched with sweat but feeling pretty damn good. And though the numbers I uploaded didn’t reflect it, I had one of the better runs I’ve had in some time.

So thanks, you little bastard. You rock.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

First Run of the Season…

…And boy did it suck.

I probably shouldn’t be so hard on myself as it was on par with how I started out last season, but I started cramping up about a quarter of the way through and it threw off the whole session.

At first I feared my leg conditioning took a step back to before I started karate classes. Time was, any real distance at a brisk walk would cause the outside of my calves to seize up. Fortunately the cramping is already clearing up, so I’m confident that’s not the problem. With luck it’s something simple, like I didn’t drink nearly enough water today (which I didn’t) and it’s just standard muscle cramps. It could also just be the couple pounds I gained back over the winter.

My pace may have been less than desirable, but I did make it through my minimum target distance of 3 kilometers. I’ve also got my Nike+ set up for the new season and my goal established, so I’ve got something to shoot for. Just getting out there and breaking the seal is important, and here on out it’s just a matter of developing the habit again.

Onward and upward.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Plateaus

I hit a definite plateau in my weight loss recently, holding the same weight from late December through the middle of February. I thought I was going to have to start the running program before I saw any change, but then I got sick. That fever and infection knocked seven pounds off me in a week, and I’ve only gained one back since I started feeling better on Monday.

The good news is I didn’t let that plateau discourage me. I practiced my karate as often and as hard as ever, and I continued to set the same weight goal for January and February rather than trying to compromise and find a middle ground. Now that I feel better, I may up the intensity of those workouts and see if I can’t sweat a little more.

I expect the running program will be the next real breakthrough, though. I like that it’s simple and realistic, especially given that I normally hate running. I like how the goal is just to do it, not attach any kind of speed or time limit to it. That should help me burn some weight as well as build up my endurance for sparring matches and our more intense karate class workouts.

I’m also happy to report the same plateau didn’t hit my karate progress. I learned a new speed form that I struggled with at first. Given I spent all of last week on my ass, I worried I’d have some trouble with it again. Fortunately on Tuesday night, the first of two review nights this week, I was able to bang it right out on request, and I nailed it the first time through. Same goes for the two new Judo throws I had to demonstrate. Not too shabby.

Tonight’s the second review, and I’ll finish it by interpreting my kata, Anaku, and doing some form sparring. I’ve been reviewing the interpretation in my head most of the day, so I should do fine. If all goes well, I’ll make my next belt in April.

If anything demonstrates I’m not stuck on a plateau, I would think a new belt would be it.

This weekend I buy some new running shoes for the running program. The high school staff at the district I work for surprised me with a Visa gift card, so I’ll be taking that to the local Dick’s to grab a pair of Nike+ shoes and the Nike+iPod transmitter.

As soon as the warmer weather hits, I hit the track.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.

Drinking the Apple Kool-Aid

One of the Apple execs I met yesterday made a good statement about their products: you don’t get it until you try it.

Apple users extol the virtues of their OS all the time. Three of my friends, including (former) die-hard PC user John Roling, have switched to Mac and vow to never go back. A school in Indianapolis employing a 1-to-1 initiative dropped their PC laptops in favor of MacBooks and couldn’t be happier. A Minneapolis-area school switched their 8 buildings from PC to Mac and offered to load Windows for anyone who wanted it; not one teacher requested it.

The rest of us ask “It costs how much?

The MacBook I purchased in December was my first real experience with a Mac, and it’s been growing on me ever since. Wednesday, on the way up to Chicago for our Apple briefing, my superintendent and I stopped off at the New Lenox School District 122. A teacher showed us how she used Macs, and I picked the tech coordinator’s brain about the back end. Both of them couldn’t be any happier with their Macs, and the downside on the back end is far from a deal-breaker.

That night, we hit the Apple Store on Michigan Avenue. I played with an iPod Touch. I fiddled with an iPhone, then browsed the MacBooks, Apple TV, and the iMacs. I chatted with the sales reps, and I damn near came home with an iPod Touch for the Wife.

Yesterday we sat in on the briefing, learned about Apple’s sales and growth, and got a lot of hands-on experience. We created a podcast in Garage Band in minutes (complete with pictures), and fiddled with a lot of the features that would really help in an educational setting, such as the built-in Dictionary and the Speech text-to-speech engine. We even got to see a lot of the thoughtful extras, like Webclips.

We drove home stunned.

Sure, I still have a few beefs. The closed nature of some of their products, for starters (the iPod Touch may be open to more developers soon, but the iPhone will be AT&T-only for some time). The lock-in to iTunes. The lack of true GPS on the iPhone and the Touch (every time someone tried to show me the triangulation feature, it failed or at least failed to build directions off of it). The way the Nike+iPod is restricted to the iPod Nano. And, of course, the price tag.

Yet it’s hard to argue with the value. Like people say, most of this stuff is just cool to use. Apple has put a lot of thought into the layout and design of both the hardware and the software, and I’ve heard nothing but good things about the system’s stability. OS X is loaded with features you just don’t get on Windows (or at the very least aren’t as polished in Windows), and the iPhone and Touch interfaces are an order of magnitude better than the Palm’s (there’s no stylus to lose, either).

The Wife scoffed when I told her I almost brought home a Touch for her. She had been looking at one of those credit card-sized photo viewers to show pictures to people, and she carries a calendar and address book in her purse. The Touch would fill all those functions and then some, saving her space in her purse and give her a much better screen and interface to boot. When I got home, I sat her down in front of my MacBook and gave her a tour of the Touch on Apple’s site. Sure enough, she’s impressed and looks forward to getting one in the near future.

Even tonight, despite my irritation in being forced to purchase an iPod Nano if I want to use the Nike+iPod gear when I try the Cool Running 5k plan this Spring, I found myself pricing out both the gadgets and a pair of Nike+ shoes or the Shoe Pouch. All day I’ve been trying to figure out if I should sync the Wife’s iPod Touch with my school MacBook or if I should buy an iMac for the family, and she doesn’t even have the damn thing yet. I yammered about Apple crap all night, and the Wife says I haven’t been this excited about computers in a long time.

Right now, if someone asked me what kind of computer they should buy, I would tell them “If you can afford it, buy a Mac. If you can’t, buy the best machine you can afford and slap Ubuntu on it.”

I feel so dirty.

About Mike Oliveri

Mike Oliveri is a writer, martial artist, cigar aficionado, motorcyclist, and family man, but not necessarily in that order. He is currently hard at work on the werewolf noir series The Pack for Evileye Books.