There are many ways to make running a bit more exciting (and possibly a bit more productive). Starting out too quickly is something that many people, including myself, do wrong. A quick burst of energy can be great while training for short sprints and speed, but doing this when you set out on a two mile run is not smart. Luckily there are some ways to manage your pace and track your training.
For a long time, I have been considering getting set up with the Nike+ SportBand ($59) and a new pair of kicks. Its simple and provides basic time, distance, and pace data. The watch style seems easy to wear and the ability to run with or without an iPod is great. The biggest downside that many user reviews mention is the inability to replace batteries for the Nike+ sensor that you place in Nike+ compatible shoes. At $20 a pop, these sensor replacements would really add up over time (most users say they buy replacements every year, or after about 1000 hours).
Yesterday in an Adidas store I noticed a small box placed randomly above some running apparel. Funny that I never heard about their similar miCoach system ($139). After checking out multiple reviews from 2010, it seems the Adidas fitness system provides a better look at your fitness and complies more information. Perhaps the selling point for spending twice as much money upfront is that the miCoach Pacer provides feedback about your running habits. If you start out too quickly, it will tell you to slow your pace. If your heart rate gets too high (yes it comes with a small monitor for that), you’ll know to slow it down or take a rest. Similarly, a sluggish day on the track will result in pleasant British voices coaching you toward your running goals.
If voices in your head doesn’t make you want to choose the miCoach over Nike+ then maybe the ability to replace batteries in the shoe sensor will change your mind. If you plan to use the running system over five years of exercise, Nike+ would cost you $59 for a SportBand plus $20/yr for sensors. Adidas miCoach cost $139 upfront, but you can get the sensor ready for another 6-8 months of running with a $1 battery. Total cost comparison over 5 years: Nike+ $159 | Adidas miCoach $149. The only option that would make Nike+ cheaper is if you already own or plan to buy an iPod nano, iPod Touch, or iPhone. These devices come ready to connect with Nike+ so you can skip the SportBand. Still, you’ll pay at least $100 over five years for sensors.
Garmin makes a range of GPS connected sport watches which range in price from $130 – $350. Polar makes similar devices with a focus on heart rate monitors that can cost up to more than $400. These might be great for a professional training for marathons in remote destinations, but the Garmin Connect user interface is likely to provide more bells & whistles than someone just starting to use running analytics would want. In case I forgot to mention, you’ll need to buy an adaptive clip to use a Nike+ sensor with any other shoe. The miCoach shoe sensor clips onto any type of shoe right out of the box.