Friday, August 30, 2013

Product Review: Nike+ SportWatch

Well, as you already saw in my last few race recaps - SURPRISE!  I recently purchased a GPS running watch.

For the last ... maybe year or so ... I've been debating purchasing a GPS watch for running.  Although I feel like a total dork admitting it, the last three years of my running hobby have been supported largely by the Nike+ foot pod and the app that came pre-loaded on my iPhone.

Don't get me wrong, I don't mean to downplay the Nike+ foot pod.  It's really a great way for a beginner runner to get going.  Not only is it easy to use and fairly inexpensive, it's a great way to provide motivation when you're struggling to hit your first mile, or even first three miles.  So - if you're a beginning runner, go buy one already!

Foot pod

Clip for pod

However, obviously, there's more to this story.

Somewhere along the line last year, I started to realize that the pod wasn't so great for longer distances.  Although, I have to admit, I did still love hearing the miles tick off over my headphones, and getting the occasional pre-recorded congratulations from Lance Armstrong.  (LOL - actually, I don't hear from him much anymore... I wonder if Nike updated the app to eliminate him after all his doping drama). 

Despite those good times with the pod, the downsides started to add up with advanced training - such as inaccuracy over longer distances, or the lack of way to quick read pace and ensure even training, etc. 

Now that I'm big time with half marathoning a few times a year, these little inconveniences become a much larger issue.  Who wants to constantly be pushing buttons on their iPhone to hear current stats when they're running 13+ miles, am I right?

Yeah, yeah.  Let me toot my own horn a little.  Sheesh!

Anyhow!  Back in early spring, when my husband was asking me to assemble my birthday wish list, I started asking my running friends what they used in terms of GPS running support.  I heard the standard Garmin, Garmin, Garmin response... with one surprise response of "I use an iPhone GPS app". 

Hmm... I was interested in the (cheap) app until I heard "Well... it doesn't really like it when I run in small circles."  Drat, I'm annoyed enough with my pod, I don't need something else to measure my distance wrong, too.

I decided I'd be a "good runner" and look into Garmin options. 

$200+?!  Get outta here!

I love that episode of The Simpsons.  And quick tip - the Miller Brewery in Milwaukee lets you mail out one free postcard anywhere in the world when you tour it.  Guess who got a postcard in the mail that was an exact replica of the above?  Moving on...

As you can tell, I'm worried about my wallet more than my mileage accuracy.  The net result after researching was: no GPS watch, stick with the pod.

Then, the heavens opened last month and the angels began to sing.  I discovered the new Nike+ SportWatch!

After reading a bunch of blogs online about the watch, I decided it was worth a shot.  Since several other people have already blogged about the functionality of this watch, I'm going to direct you to their sites to read more.  No point in reinventing the wheel on that one.  (Just click on those two links to see the reviews I read prior to purchasing.) 

What I will say is that there are two major things that appealed for me in this watch:

(1) Price, duh!  $150 without the foot pod.
(2) If I choose to run indoors, which I often do in rainy or absurdly cold MN weather, I can tell the watch to still track my run by relying on the pod only.

Before I decided to pull the trigger, I did go to two different running stores to ask questions. 

First, I stopped at TC Running Company (totally on accident, really - my friend was picking up shoes and I was just killing time while she paid).  The staff there was friendly as usual, and spoke highly of the watch.  I wasn't really sold on the idea of purchasing it yet, so I decided to mull it over a little.

When I finally hit the point where I knew I wanted it, I happened to be closer to Running Room.  So, I swung in there and asked for a second opinion.  The guy I talked to had a buddy who ran with it, and is the one who has sold me several pairs of shoes in the past, so I trusted his opinion.  While he did try to sway me with Garmin ... and he's right, they are a "better" watch ... I knew for an entry level watch at such a low price point that I wasn't going to budge. 

So, after reviewing the color options they had in stock, I decided to go for the black watch with blue accents (shown above).  I'm sure you're shocked that I didn't go for neon green or something but... this was a pretty big investment piece, and I wanted to make sure I didn't get sick of it over time.  I have a tendency to want to buy new stuff all the time to keep up with current color trends, and I definitely didn't want motivation to buy a new watch because my current one was an outdated color.  After picking the black/blue watch, the sales guy bagged up my purchase and off I went.

I've now run a few official races with the thing, as well as a some training runs.  You can read more about my race day experiences with my watch in those summaries: Webster Education 5K, Crosby Serpent 5K.   

If you've already read those race reports, you know I've been pretty happy overall with the watch.  Aside from it taking a tad longer to link up to satellites in Crosby, and the slightly over enthusiastic instant pace read out in the first 1/4 mile of any run, everything else works great.  (Really - those two minor issues aren't anything, anyway). 

As an added bonus, in the first two races I ran with it on, I PR'd both times.  So obviously, it's helping me find my groove and hang in it. 

Also, I haven't noticed any issues so far with dropping satellites, and I used this on some fairly wooded training runs while I was up at the cabin on vacation the other week.  I can't say for sure if the satellites didn't drop, or if the foot pod just did its job by filling in whenever they did drop, but either way - I never noticed a pause in service on a 10 mile run down a 50-75% wooded trail.  So, that seems like a pretty good test to me. 

And maybe it works as a bear repellant, too?  I say this because I didn't see a single black bear on the trail during my 10 mile run, but did almost bump noses with one two days later while biking the same trail and NOT wearing the watch.  That was definitely an out of body experience...

Hmmm... now that I think about it, that is an interesting theory.  Well played, Nike+ SportWatch!

I guess my point of this post is... I really like this watch!  And if you're considering moving into the GPS world, for under $200 with a foot pod, this watch is a pretty good deal.

That's about all I have to say.  If you're interested, you can buy it at your local running store, or online here:

No comments:

Post a Comment