One of the great things about running is the low entry cost – even a really good pair of shoes cost nothing compared to a decent road-bike. Maybe that’s why I waited years before trying out a GPS – that and the clunky look of early GPS watches – like something Darth Vader would strap to your wrist so he could monitor your actions and deactivate you if you misbehaved.
The Nike+ Sportwatch caught my eye for its (relatively) sleek styling, decent price (again, all things are relative), and claims of simple operation, which turn out to be true. One touch of a button sets it searching for satellites, and once it has connected with them, just one more touch starts it timing and tracking. One final touch at the end of a run and your route, time, distance, elevation and pace are all recorded, to be downloaded automatically when plugged into a USB port with internet access.
You can interact more if you wish – scrolling thru functions is easy enough even with sweaty or gloved fingers – but you may not have to, since you get to choose which function is displayed in extra-large easy-to–read numerals (I like to see my pace, a moment-by-moment coach which has turned out to be very instructive), plus a second in smaller numerals.
I haven’t tried any other GPS watches to compare, but then again, I haven’t felt any desire to. My Nike+ is a faithful tool and I never run without it!
Quibbles to be aware of: I find the pace displayed while I’m running is often faster than what shows up in the permanent record on the website. Perhaps there is some accuracy-correction going on in the home-ware, but it’s disappointing to see a 6:06 pace on your wrist (cruising down a very steep hill mind you….) and then find the recorded profile shows you were really barely breaking 7 minutes. Elevation can be similarly squirrely, with one beachfront-run registering 95 ft above sea level when I could hardly credit 40’, given I was in sight of the waves across a hundred yards of not very steep sand.
The website is a bit cryptic in its instructions, but I’ve found Nike’s technical assistance very helpful.
Be aware also, that if you let the rechargeable battery go to zero, the watch will re-set to some years-ago date when charged-up again. If you don’t re-set the time and date before your next run, it will get recorded in 2005 or something. All is not lost though, you can e-mail tech. service and they will put you back into the present day.