Friday, January 28, 2011
Nike+iPod = Success
So my dear friend Joyce made me a very generous gift for my graduation from grad school -- the Nike+iPod sport kit!!! Today I finally got to try it out.
It. Was. So. Good.
As we know, my purpose in writing is not only to track and document for myself, but also to encourage others who are trying to start an exercise program -- by being specific about what I do, no matter how little, and the positive benefits, no matter how subtle. My last post was very vague, all about how I estimated this and guessed that.
No more guessing!
The Nike+iPod sport kit comes with 2 little items, as you can see in the photo -- a white receiver (for the iPod) and an orange sensor (for your shoe). It's made to be used with Nike shoes and Apple iPods or iPhones. Nike shoes have a little compartment where you slip the orange sensor into the shoe itself and it "senses" your stride, speed, distance.
If you have an iPod or an iPhone, you use that while you run, with the Nike app running, and it tracks your runs, encourages you, gives you a power song to keep going.... basically everything except show up and kick your ass for you.
If you have a newer iPhone or iPod you don't even need the receiver at all, because the gadget is set up to receive data from the sensor already, and transmit it to an account you can set up on Nike.com.
The Nike+iPod kit is $29.99 new on Amazon. At that price, there is no shipping fee. I have also seen brand new kits for as little as $15 on ebay. Of course, then you have to pay shipping. It is a pretty small package. It could fit in a padded envelope.
Now, I do not have Nike shoes, I have Asics. So based on online reading, I also got a Shoe Pouch from Grantwood Technology, in dark pink. There are other pouches out there, but I have this aversion to buying things online unless I know, absolutely, that they will work for me. The product descriptions from the company are not always good enough for me (as I will say more about below).
I just have to say, I love Grantwood Technology. My Shoe Pouch arrived first, in a small padded envelope. In the shoe pouch package was a yellow notecard envelope that said "OPEN ME" on it. Very inviting. So I did. Inside that was a lovely thank you note to me for purchasing their products and expressing how much they appreciated my business. Also urging me to please contact them should I have any problems, and allow them to help me so I did not have any "hassles" with their product.
I mention this note because I DID contact them. I had a problem understanding how to attach the Shoe Pouch to my shoe. I saw that it was somehow laced on, and there were instructions with the pouch, but the instructions did not seem to "go" with the product. Since I had their thank you note handy, I called them up. The nice girl who answered the phone for the company knew the product and understood where I was confused.
From the pictures and instructions, it appears that the pouch is attached by running your shoe laces through these straps sewn to the pouch back. However, my pouch had those straps completely sewn down. The nice girl told me the sewing should have created 4 loops, one at each end of each strap. The laces go through these loops. In the product picture, I can see these 4 little "tabs" sticking out from behind the pouch -- these are loops.
Once she had explained, I was able to see immediately how to attach the pouch. Without their convenient phone number and written invitation handy, I probably would have tried to figure it out myself by wasting time searching online for the answer. The call took about 2 minutes.
Therefore I heartily recommend Grantwood Technology to anyone who owns Apple products -- not just people who also exercise. They've got some great items, so check them out!
Once I got my pouch attached to my shoe correctly, I only had to wait for my sport kit to arrive. When it did, I was so excited!
I just need to stop there for a minute. This thing is for RUNNING and I was SO EXCITED to get it.
Consider it. Blows my mind. Hello -- is this me? Is this my life?
According to the instructions, the sensor could be activated by simply starting the Nike app on your iPhone. So I looked for this app. I don't have an iPhone 4, but I thought I had a 3GS. Unlike with Grantwood Technology, there was no convenient phone number handy for me to call and ask "What am I doing wrong?" I went online, looking for help. No luck.
It turns out I have an iPhone 3G, which I probably knew way back in my brain somewhere. But it was disappointing that the first instruction didn't work for me. And there was no alternate instruction included. I tried plugging the white receiver into my iPhone, and of course it is not compatible.
Apple, I love you, but you tick me off, because I think ALL your products should be interoperable. I think all earbuds should work with all phones, all software should work with all products, and all equipment should work together. I should not have to have one cord to connect my phone to my laptop, and another cord to connect my iPod. And I know this is done ON PURPOSE, in order to compel people to have to keep buying more stuff. I know it is planned obsolescence, and it makes me want to punch you in the neck, Apple.
Now the product information did say that the kit was compatible with ALL iPods, or I would have been ticked in the extreme. Yes the product info says, "compatible with iPhone 3GS and above." However, what is the music app called on my iPhone? It is labeled "iPod." And I cannot recall off the top of my head if my phone has an S on the product name or not.
This is the kind of crap that makes me crazy inside. Mainly because I know that *I* can figure it out, eventually, and many other people can figure it out. But it creates this elitist, snobbish sort of barrier to access, and dissuades people from trying. Just try going into a Starbucks if all you want is a plain cup of coffee, and everyone around you is ordering a Venti Grande half caf no whip with mochalatta shot. WOT??? It's deliberately intimidating. And then the people who can figure it out are supposed to have some sort of smug feeling of superiority: "I'm a MAC user." And I am aware of the digital divide, and stuff like this just plays into that. Please. I have a degree in anthropology and my area of interest is status and class issues. Just read Veblen's Theory of the Leisure Class to see that I am not making things up. This is all on purpose. I find it irritating.
I do have an actual iPod. Not a new one. A first generation Nano. This thing is so old it didn't even come in colors! I am pleased to say that the receiver did plug in just fine and the software showed up. Good for you, Apple.
Well, this was the journey. It was not "hard" exactly. But I did have to have some motivation to proceed. As I've discussed before, and many of us know, there are all kinds of barriers to exercise if you are not born athletic by nature. If you are not motivated, just finding a pair of shorts to wear and driving to a gym is enough of a barrier to think, "I'll do it sommmmmeeeedaaaayyyy..."
And my point has been, when it comes to exercise, what makes a person do it today? And the next day? And the next?
So here I was today, with my pouch laced to my shoes, the sensor tucked inside, and I happen to have an iPod, and now a receiver attached to it. Loaded up with music. Privilege much?
I even just did laundry so all my workout gear was fresh and clean. Ready and waiting. The only barrier I had was... the WEATHER. aaaaahhhh!
It's been cold and snowy. People can and do run in the cold, and I have. But snowy means sidewalks are not shoveled. Parks with trails don't have the snow cleared. And I fell on some ice 3 years ago and broke my wrist. I also hurt my ankle so badly I could not walk for several days, and I limped badly for several months. I am leary of running in the snow.
Today was not too cold - about 30 degrees. That is practically balmy at this stage of winter. So I hoped to give my new gadet / tool / toy / something a whirl.
I suited up and spent a lot of time at home stretching, warming up, doing exercises. I've been reading the book Chi Running, and it gave some additional stretches and techniques to include.
This time I looked at the clock before I started. I put on a slower song to start. I did a lot of the extra stretches as well as all the ones I have been doing all along. I noted that I can bend farther now and I am a bit more flexible. However, the extra exercises really got my heart pumping and my breath going. I checked the clock when I was done, and rather than the 5-7 minutes I had estimated, I saw I had spent 14 minutes on this warm up.
I think that is pretty good. But I would like to caution anyone reading that I had to work up to that. Arm circles, for instance -- I started with 4 only. Now I do 8. Some exercises I did maybe 2 when I began, Now I do 8 of them. Doing 2 of an exercise is just fine. Just do 2 next time as well. In my opinion, it's better to do less than you could, and have some success, than push yourself so far the first time you don't want to do anything more.
Then I got my stuff together and took a long drive to look for a new park to run in. I had to run some errands in this neighborhood anyway. Every park I went to had not had the snow cleared. I had pretty much decided to give up until spring thaw when I had an idea. I knew of a quiet neighborhood with a cul-de-sac nearby. So I drove over there, parked, set myself up, and set off.
I had played a bit with the the sport kit already. I had set up the voice mode (female or male), the power song ("Boom! Shake the Room!" by DJ Jazzy Jeff and the Fresh Prince. I so don't care at all about my music being "cool" LOL, and I love old school hip hop), and I knew I had to "calibrate" to both my walk and my run to the sport kit.
So to calibrate -- you set it all up as I've described, and then you start walking or running. I first calibrated to my walk because I wanted to warm up a bit again. The calibration requires a distance of 0.25 km.
I just want to specify something I have alluded to before. Up until today I have had no idea at all what distance or speed I have been going. I just knew about how much time I spent, and the level of intensity as per my own perceived effort level. I did not go so fast I could not sing along with my music if I chose (my life is a cage but on stage I'm FREE...).
Walking that distance was no problem at all. Calibration done.
Then I tried running it. Ugggghhhh. What happened? I ran until the time when I would slow to a walk. I checked the darn thing and it said the dreaded words:
So I kept walking, then I set it up again, and I told myself I was going to run far enough to at least calibrate it. No matter how hard it was.
0.25 km. That is like 400 meters. Not very far. I just kept going.
Calibration successful! Yay!
Now the issue.... I still had not done a "workout" for the thing to track! I had spent 14 minutes stretching and warming up, then walking to calibrate, and 2 very short running periods. uuuuuuhhhhnnnn....
I still don't like to push myself too hard, too fast. I do not want to end up in pain. I also don't want to be so slow I might as well not bother.
I looked to see the shortest distance I could set it at. Which was one half of a mile.
Now from one perspective, that is a pathetically small amount of distance. I could walk it no problem. And most "runners" generally go at least 2-3 miles per run, or 6-10 if in training for a race. I've been doing this activity for 4 months and I still did not think I could run, without slowing to a walk, for an entire half mile.
Whatever. I do this for me, not so some little machine can tell me if I am doing a good job.
I had been walking while I fiddled with the thing, so I set it to the half mile workout and started.
My shins were a bit tight already. I did some of the techniques from Chi Running. I worked on my lean, my posture, my spine, my stride. I listened to my music. I breathed. I smiled. I looked at the sky. I laughed.
Before I had time to blink twice, a feamle voice said: "Congratulations! You have finished your workout!"
huh wha....??? I barely started! I'm not even out of breath!
I slowed to a walk and looked around. How did this happen? How did I get here?
A half mile? Me? Really?
Was I slow. Oh hell yes. According to the thing my speed is 12.38 miles per hour.
You know what is even slower than that? Sitting on my ass on the couch watching TV, eating chips, and playing World of Warcraft on the computer. That is more than slow, it is non-existant movement.
I remember back in September when I could not run for 60 seconds consecutively without agonizing shin pain. And here I was, weighing the same, body looks the same (I'm pretty sure it does), clothes the same....
But today I could run a half mile without stopping or even being out of breath.
I was so darn excited that I set it for another half mile and kept going. This time I did walk a bit and then run some.
Ok can I repeat that, for all you couch slugs out there who think exercise is a four letter word?
I finished my workout and then I reset the thing so I could keep going.
I was running around a small loop. As I came out of the loop, I could see my car, and I headed that way. As I got close to it, I could see on the iPod that I was close to finishing the mile. If I stopped at my car I would be a bit short, but if I kept going I would hit a mile not too far past.
I kept going. I was walking at this point, because I wanted to cool down a bit, but I kept going until the nice lady on my iPod said, "Congratulations!"
Ok that is another really important thing to note for the exercise-avoidant out there.
I would have stopped, but my little thing-y here told me if I just went a wee bit longer I would be at a mile, a nice round amount of distance. So I kept going. I went a bit longer than I might have -- because I knew how close I was.
That was worth all the hassle right there. I won't say it's worth the price, because mine was a gift, but I kind of think it is worth it.
As it turns out, I didn't work it right this first time. I needed to "end workout" and then start another one, instead of just "keep going." If I had a newer iPod with a spiffy color screen and all the graphics, this might have been more obvious to me at the time. So My New Lady Friend only really recorded the first half mile.
That is fine and dandy with me. It is better than what I had before. Which was... NOTHING.
So this is a nice long blather about the details of my life. Let's recap, shall we?
6 months ago my exercise consisted of running out the door to my class about 10 minutes late, as usual, hyperventilating, and possibly, walking over campus dragging a computer bag with me.
5 months ago I tried running and could not even run slowly for 60 seconds consecutively.
3 months ago I finally had a day where I had to slow to a walk due to being out of breath, not the pain of crippling shin splints.
Last month I went running IN THE SNOW. On a gray, chilly day with nothing outside to recommend the day. Except I wanted to be outside, and I wanted some exercise.
This month I tried doing the shortest workout ever and it was too short for me... so I did it again.
IN THE SNOW.
Today I signed up for an account at nikeplus.com to track my runs.
According to My New Lady Friend, I went for 15 minutes (this does not include the 14 minute warm up, the walking to calibrate the device, the 2 short runs to calibrate, and the walk to cool down, and the cool down stretches I did). I burned a whopping 92 calories.
I don't care! It was great and I can't wait to do it again.
Just wait until spring. I'll be outside enjoying the sunshine. Who knows how far or how fast I'll be able to go.