If you are a college student running on a budget, or really anyone who can’t afford to dole out the big bucks for the best running accouterments, there are several options out there for you. When I was younger, my parents instituted a rule in our household after the discovery of my rather rapid cycling through interests. The rule was that if you took up a new hobby, you had to stick with it for at least a year or two before any big purchases could be made regarding it. For example, I now have a sewing machine and guitar that I had to earn through years of borrowing other’s equipment. This mentality has stuck with me throughout the years, so when I started running, partially because of my childhood rule, and partially because I’m cheap as hell (correction, I just don’t like spending money when there are perfectly good, cheaper options available) I decided not to invest in any serious running equipment, with the exception of shoes and clothes.
Being the anal person that I am though, I needed to be able to track the distances and times I was running, so I did a little research and found the Nike+ app. I’m sure many of you have some vague idea of the Nike+ chip you can put in your shoe to track miles, but Nike+ is no longer just about that chip. My dad has been using Nike+ for years moving from the chip, to bracelet, to watch, but I discovered, you don’t need any of that stuff!
The Nike+ app for iPhone is incredible. I’m sure there are many other apps out there that track your miles and times for free, but this app has a few special features that I really enjoy. Before I get into the things that make the app special, I just want to say that after having used this app, I probably wouldn’t invest in any of the other Nike+ technology because you have to upload it to your profile to see your stats. With the app you can see and listen to your time/distance as you go, so for a person who loves instant gratification, as well as is following a training program, the app is great.
Best features of the Nike+ app:
Social Networking: The app not only tracks your activity, but also allows you to connect with your friends who use Nike+, and pits you in friendly competitions with them. This makes running less of a solitary activity and also gives you some motivation to keep your mileage up.
Trophies: Again a great motivational tool, when you reach certain benchmarks, trophies are added to your profile. There are awards for anything such as running a certain number of days/weeks/months in a row or number of miles logged in a certain time period. Regardless of their triviality, it feels good to rack up trophies.
Motivational Speakers: This is probably my favorite aspect of the app, as silly as it is. When you finish a run or if you set your run for a certain distance, when you’re in the last portion of it, famous runners/Nike affiliated athletes will come on and congratulate or motivate you to keep pushing. I don’t care that it’s pre-recorded, Ashton Eaton can come on my headphones and tell me I’m great any day of the week!
Data Collection: The app does a great job of collecting ones running data including, weather, how it felt, and what surface you ran on and creating not only an individual page for each run, but also graphs of running data for the month.
Powersongs: The app talks to you throughout your run, giving you your average pace at each mile and if you set the distance you’re going to run, when you’re very close to finishing it, it will give you the option to start a powersong. A powersong is a pre-set pump up song of your choosing, taken from your phone’s iPod.
While I may eventually try and acquire a Garmin watch, for now, the Nike+ app is a great resource that not only tells me what I’m doing, but also gives me another level of motivation thanks to it’s personal bench marks.
Another fitness app I love to use is the Nike Training Club (NTC) app . Also free, it provides targeted workouts for strengthening specific areas of the body with great video instruction. Oftentimes when I run out of ideas for my own strengthening exercises I will use this app for some variation, or to target an area that I don’t know any exercises for.