Rounding into Shape with Nike+

Not everyone is a runner. I sure wasn’t for a good portion of my life. I love physical activity, but always preferred sports to the more boring option of simply running by myself.

But then I tried the iPod and Nike+ combo.

Now, I’m not one to blindly credit technology for improving our lives. So when I say that the Nike+ system changed my mind about running, I don’t say it lightly. But the rich visual summaries of your progress, the focus on improving as a runner and the ability to challenge and compete with others cannot be downplayed — they made me want to run more.

Which is exactly the intent of the product. To get started, all you need is to purchase a Nike+ iPod kit and create an account on the Nike+ website. And if you have a 2nd generation iPod Touch, a 4th generation iPod Nano, or an iPhone 3GS, then the Nike+ functionality is already available in your Apple device — all you need is the sensor for your shoes.

If you break the Nike+ system down into components, you basically have the iPod/iPhone portion and then you have the web application.

And the web app is where all the fun happens.


If you’ve used the Nike+ system in the past, you may know that the service is due for a major redesign. It’s been in progress for some time and the new version is now available, but in beta form. The differences between the two versions is mostly aesthetic — all the same options are available, some with a new name.

The new design is similar to the previous iteration and is broken down into several main sections: Home, Runs, Goals, Challenges, Coach, Map It and the Forums.


This is where you can see your history — how much you’ve run, how long it took, how many calories burned — all the information related to your activity. A person could write all this down in a notebook and review it that way, but I found that seeing my progress in a rich visual presentation really added motivation.

I wanted to keep improving.

Review your history with these gorgeous visuals.

Review your history with these gorgeous visuals.


Want to run faster? Further? More frequently? Set goals for yourself here and motivate yourself. With each goal, you can track your progress and see if you’re on pace or falling behind.


If beating yourself is not quite enough motivation, challenge a friend or acquaintance. You can set challenges to be by invite only or publicly available, and for individuals or teams. Choose people you know already in the system or invite your friends to join. Then get running.

Invite your friends to a challenge.

Invite your friends to a challenge.


For those are interested in possibly competing in events, the new Coach section is interesting. Want to create a training plan for a local race but aren’t sure where to start? The Nike+ website can help.

In the Coach section you can choose from several different programmes. The most common would be for 5K, 10K, half marathon and full marathon distances. The application has training schedules set for each race distance that are based on your current running skill level (Beginner, Intermediate 1 and 2, or Advanced). If you don’t have the time to join a running club or clinic, this is a helpful alternative.

Detailed instructions are available in the coach programmes.

Detailed instructions are available in the coach programmes.

Map It

It seems that Nike has caught on to the fact that modern web users are social in nature, and so the Nike+ application was designed accordingly. The Map It option allows you to map out your favorite running routes and then share them with others.

Other Touches

If all that isn’t enough for you, there are a smattering of other features in this application. It keeps track of all your personal bests and saves them in a section titled “My Records”. You can see your fastest ever run and furthest run, as well as your bests for the 5K and 10K distances.

It also keeps track of your performance in various Goals you set or Challenges you participate in. It’s a nice way to see the highlights of your running history.

Share your Mini.

Share your Mini.

The team behind the app has also created some nice desktop widgets that work with Dashboard for OS X and use the Yahoo Widget Engine for Windows users. These widgets track your Goals and Challenges.

And lastly, you can create your own Nike+ Mini, an avatar that you can use on your own website to share your running information with other people. This is probably not a feature everyone is interested in, but it adds some fun to the experience.

Make the Most of Your Runs

In the end, you still need to get yourself out the door and get running. I can say that as a competitive person who loves a challenge, Nike+ can increase your motivation. But to take full advantage, you need to get others involved.

As I mentioned above, this app was designed as a social tool. For myself, I got into the whole idea when I was visiting my brother-in-law and his girlfriend. She was a runner and, as it turns out, a decent trash talker as well. We purchased our Nike+ kits together and the race was on. Being able to check my progress against hers really made me long to get out and run again.

Even if you are an extremely self motivated person, competing and participating with friends and colleagues will still spur you on. Be sure to get involved with others.

A Word of Caution

I would be remiss not to mention to take care of yourself. If you are going to seriously consider running more or a lot more, then a running clinic is definitely something to check out. When I first started to run, I increased my distance too far and too fast. This will almost always result in injury and that was the case with me. Two years later, I still struggle with knee issues.

Take care of yourself above all else.


Add Yours
  • hey, nice post!

    I’m triathlon addicted and always watching out for nice apps where I could manage my training!
    Nike+ is a really cool thing, but it’s only for runners and you need the nike+ components!

    One week ago I found !
    A really great app. There are also goals, challanges, maps,… and a big community!
    You could also sync your nike+ account with dailymile!

    And the best thing, you don’t need any devices

  • “a 5th generation iPod Nano, […] then the Nike+ functionality is already available in your Apple device — all you need is the sensor for your shoes.”

    I hope you´re a prophet!! Todays iPod Nano (4th generation) doesn´t have the built-in +device. The 5th generation might be presented tommorrow …

    Preferably with the nike+ device instead of a another useless camera (which seems to be integrated in all mobile devices nowadays).

    • Ah, you got me there. 4th gen — updated!

  • I bought the Nike+ for use with my Nano two years ago and it was a genious idea back then though somewhat lacking, however, it seems as if they’ve greatly improved their service since then.

    I just may dig my sensor out of my drawer and go for a run again.

  • I’m a big fan of RunKeeper for the iPhone. While the features aren’t quite as robust as Nike+ or DailyMile, it’s primary feature is the killer app. It uses the iPhone’s GPS to track your runs (or in my case, bike rides). It maps it out on Google Maps with distance, speed, pace and a whole bunch of stats – including elevation maps!

    RunKeeper syncs effortlessly with a web interface where you can share your maps via Facebook, etc. Essentially, you don’t need to do anything but set it up once and get outside. There’s no entering of data each time you exercise. The app does it all.

    The developers are hard at work on new features and from what I can tell on Twitter, they are thinking big.

    Nike+ is a great product from a company in the center of the running world, but I believe it’s more complex for the user than tracking a run needs to be.

  • The Nike web app seems to have a nice interface, well-(re?)designed. But I don’t have the Nike kit; can we see it somewhere? any link?

    If we have to be a registered user to see this beautiful interface in 1:1, could we grab your screenshots somewhere, like on quicksnapper? It would be really nice to see it in the real size.

    Thanks for this article,

  • You can use any generation Nano so long as you attach the receiver. Works fine on my 1G.

  • Take a look at if you’re missing any runs on Nike+… just a little app I created in my spare time.

  • I bought one of these last week and it has been great for helping to keep my mind on my targets.

    Before these i found that i carried less focus and that resulted in less time running and more time thinking about turning round and heading home.

    I plan to take this with me when i travel next month, might be a push to get running while trekking.