It is Winter and the weather is kind of challenging when it comes to long training runs for a marathon. I usually try to run outside whenever I can, but that is easier to do when you’re heading out for a Seven Mile run and not for a Sixteen mile run. Early this year (2014) I went out for a long run into cold weather and it was so cold that the Gatorade in the bottles of my running belt froze while I was running. So, I am training for a marathon again and this last Saturday the weather was not good for a long run, so I decided to use my Nike Plus GPS watch and the Nike Plus Shoe Pod Sensor to run inside on an indoor running track. I was not looking forward to run in circles for 15+ miles, but I wanted to get my long run in no matter what.
I have used the indoor running track randomly, but it is usually my last choice when it comes to running. As mentioned, I prefer to run outside and usually don’t let myself being stopped by cold weather. When running on the indoor running track the Nike Plus GPS watch by itself is pretty much useless as it cannot reliably track the distance or display the pace correctly at all. I do have the Nike Plus Shoe Pod that connects to the Nike Plus GPS Watch, but this last Saturday when I tried to use it I was out of luck. As always I connected the two and initiated the run, but after 30 seconds the thing was dead and the Nike Plus GPS watched showed only garbage data. I stopped my run, killed the existing run on the watch, synced the Nike Plus Shoe Sensor with the watch and tried again, but this time it did not even bother to start. It looks like the battery in the Nike Plus Shoe Sensor was empty – even though I have not really used it that often. I did run 16 miles on Saturday, but had to manually time myself and of course relied on myself to determine the appropriate speed (average pace). It was not much fun.
I reached to Nike’s Support Team over the weekend, but that experience has been less than satisfying so far. I received a response that I was most-likely facing an empty battery in the sensor, but no word on how to fix it. I still have another answer outstanding from Nike, but did do some research on my own and it looks like the only fix in this situation is to buy another Nike Plus Shoe Pod or Sensor. Apparently the sensor retails for about $19.00.
I am a bit ticked off by this now. Why does this thing run out of battery so quickly in the first place even though I have barely used it? Why has Nike not designed this Shoe Sensor in a way that it allows consumers to replace the battery? I did find some people who posted instructions on the Internet on how to manually replace the battery in the Nike Shoe Sensor, but really (!) – is this really what it takes? I hate throwing away a perfectly fine electronic device (Nike Plus Shoe Pod / Sensor) just because the vendor (Nike) is trying to make some extra money by forcing runners to by a new shoe sensor when the existing one stops working. I hate adding unnecessary electronic waste to our environment – due to the nature of this device it needs to be recycled properly and it should not be thrown out with the normal trash.
I have been a big fan of the Nike Plus GPS watch so far, but this really makes me rethink the situation. Two weeks ago the watch almost ran out of battery on a 15 mile long run even though it was fully charged before the run. I know that these devices don’t last forever, but would I really go back and buy another Nike Plus GPS Watch with the Shoe Sensor?! Why would I not pick a competing device like the TomTom Multi-Sport GPS Watch which offers way more functionality than the Nike GPS Watch – including tracking of indoor runs?! Garmin offers the Garmin Foot Pod as an optional device to allow tracking of indoor runs or treadmill runs. The Garmin Foot Pod even comes with a clip that connects the pod to your shoe – something that is only available from 3rd party suppliers on the Nike side and when not using a Nike running shoe. So, there are definitely alternatives to the Nike Plus GPS watch with Shoe Sensor combo. I do “live” inside the Nike Plus eco-system and track my running through their website and I would hate to lose that data, but on the other side it would not be the end of the world. There are also websites that allow you to export your data from Nike and import it to websites like Garmin Connect.
So, at the moment I am not a happy camper. The weather forecast for where I live is not pleasant at the moment and I see another indoor long run heading my way if things continue the way they are right now. My plea would go out to Nike to re-design the shoe sensor, but I also know that this will probably not happen. Nike laid off all the engineers working on the Nike Plus hardware earlier this year and my expectations are low. Boo Nike 🙁