I finally got the Nike+ running system (a sneaker sensor + IPod interface)... and I LOVE IT.
My run is now a videogame, and I want you to play with me.
Here is a link to my first Nike+ run. Before you click on the link, you can guess wildly how far you think I run and what my speed is. How close were you?
(In case you're wondering about that big dip in the middle, I've designed my regular run so that halfway through I have to slug my way up a very steep incline, about 40 degrees. So I basically am reduced to walking speed for 90 seconds as I drag myself up it -- but it's hard and awesome and I like it that way!)
So why do I love Nike+? For tons of reasons -- the collaborative and competitive challenges on the Nike+ community, the virtual trophies I get for fastest mile, fastest 5K, longest run... and I definitely love the "power song" feature -- you can identify one song on your ipod as your power song to give you a boost when you really want to kick it in. Just hold down the center button and the song comes right up. (If you're curious, right now, my power song is "Dard e Disco" from Om Shanti Om, and yes, I am also trying to learn the choreography for that number, thanks to youtube.)
But most of all I love Nike+ because the real-time feedback it gives me on my speed is an unbelievably powerful improver of performance.
Evidence: The run that I did in 39:32 today usually takes me 41:30 on a good day, 43:00 on a slow day. No kidding. I cut 2 minutes off my best run just by paying closer attention to my speed and getting constant feedback about it!
I am a creature of habit when it comes to running. Since I've lived in Berkeley (six years now), I've had about five different running routes that I've really loved. What I like to do is stick to a single running route for a long time, and keep chipping away at the time it takes me to complete it. I was hoping to eventually get under 40 minutes this spring on the run that I've been doing for quite a while, but I thought it would take 6-8 weeks to cut off that much time. It's pretty shocking that the first day out with my Nike+, I blow my best run time out of the water. But wait a minute -- it's really not shocking at all. That's the second principal of my manifesto on why games are better than reality -- better feedback. It is SO true!
Now for the important part. I don't know anyone else who is running with the Nike+. If you are, let me know -- we can be Nike+ friends (or enemies!) and collaborate or compete on challenges. Drop me a line. If you aren't on it yet, the system is ridiculously affordable (if you have an iPod nano already, you basically just need to buy new Nike shoes with a slot for the sensor) and the online community is free, which is crazy, because I would totally pay for the service they provide.
Speaking of which, if anyone from Nike is reading this and wants a game designer to develop an MMO around Nike+, just let me know. The world is waiting on an alternate reality MMO with physical input, and I think a fitness MMO or fitness alternate reality game with Nike+ would just kill. I am ready to make it for you! ^_^
UPDATE: I went running this morning as a result of receiving my first challenge! (From a friend in Sweden!) How fun to be running with someone across the world. Here is my latest run -- about 10 seconds slower than the first run, but I was on slightly hillier terrain, so overall I think it was a better performance! Not to mention it's still two minutes under my best time prior to Nike+. Amazing!