There are great gadgets that make distance running more exciting. The ones I have been using are the Nike+ system and since shortly the Garmin forerunner 305.
The basic Nike+ system uses an accelerometer and a receiver. The accelerometer goes in your shoe and the receiver in your iPod nano. For only 30 EUR your iPod is upgraded to a device that keeps track of speed and distance while you run.
The nikeplus website (http://nikeplus.com) gives you the usual running stats but its main asset are the challenges. Challenges are races of various types that can be issued by any registered member. The challenges can be very motivational and can you push to do that extra mile to stay ahead of your competitors.
There are many disadvantages to the Nike+ system: the variation on the distance measurement is about 5-10% of the measured distance, the accelerometer needs to be replaced very 1000 – 2000 km, calibration is necessary, the Nike+ website is completely flash driven and uploading your workouts to Nike+ needs to be done via iTunes.
Lately there is the Nike+ GPS app for the iPhone. But come on … seriously, running with a device with the size and the price of a Cadillac tied around your arm?
Recently Garmin's forerunner 305 price dropped to 135 EUR. The forerunner 305 is GPS enabled and doesn't need any calibration whatsoever – even the time is set right automatically. The collected data is way more accurate than that of the Nike+ system. The package contains also a heartbeat strip. It is neat to track your running routes on http://connect.Garmin.com together with your speed, distance, elevation level and heartbeat. Main disadvantages of the forerunner is that its software is windows/mac only and that its website does not have Nike+'s motivational challenges.
Nike+ in Ubuntu with Nike4all.
Nike+ uses iTunes to upload your workouts to the Nike+ website. For long time it was the only reason to boot my xp partition on my old desktop – time and again it were very frustrating experiences: it took forever to boot, then iTunes needed to start and in between my virus scanner and windows xp insisted on updates and scans.
Fortunately I came across Gilestro's Nike4all tool. This tool can upload Nike+ workouts from your iPod within Ubuntu.
There are both a widget and a command line version. The command line version is better documented and works flawless. Since I have installed it on my Ubuntu desktop I haven't booted up xp anymore. The command line version can be found on:
In the link above Gilestro has written a straight forward how-to on how to install and use Nike4all in linux.
Andreas Diesner has developped a tool which enables Ubuntu to communicate with several Garmin devices. The installation can be found on Andreas' website:
Now your pc is able to connect to your Garmin Forerunner and upload its data to the Garmin website. Go to:
Connect your forerunner via usb, sign in and hit the upload button in the upper right corner. The site will search and detect your forerunner and propose some options to upload your workouts.
The best of both worlds
Garmin has the accurate measurements, Nike has the motivational edge. But officially you cannot upload your Garmin workouts to the Nike+ website.
Fortunately Angus Smithson developed an online tool which enables you to transfer your Garmin workouts to the Nike+ website:
This tool provides three options: With the first option you can convert a local TCX or GPX file and upload it to Nike+. With the second and third option you can convert and upload a workout from http://connect.Garmin.com directly to Nike+. Option 2 only transfers your speed, distance and heartbeat data without the GPS map, whilst the GPS map is also included when option 3 is used. A prerequisite for options 2 and 3 are that the workouts are “shared” when the tcx2nikeplus tool is used.
Ever since I have found this tool I use my Garmin for the measurements, my iPod for the music and Nike+ for motivation.