Sunday, January 06, 2008

My run is a videogame -- wanna play with me?

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!

14 comments:

v said...

You don't even need the new shoes - just buy a shoe wallet ($5) and slip the sensor in there. The wallet is fastened to the top of your shoes, but I've been using this system for over a year and it still is accurate.

You're much faster than me!

Jane said...

can definitely appreciate the shoe-hacker approach! I've read that modified sneakers of other brands does work, although forums (like metafilter) suggest it might not work as reliably as the carved out sole in official nike+ running shoes. I decided to wait until I needed new running shoes anyway, and buy a pair of the nike+ shoes. (I used to run Nike and switched to aasics and new balance for awhile -- but nikes fit my feel pretty well). I personally like the in-shoe design and think it's worth it to use the full system with the shoes... but if nikes don't fit your feet well (my husband can't run in them) a shoe wallet sounds like a great backup strategy!

Robin said...

Re: fitness MMO with ties to real-world data, etc. --> OMG yes! Such a good idea!
'Grinding' takes on an entirely new (and more constructive) meaning...

Matt said...

Did you happen to see Dennis Crowley's talk at SxSW last year? He talked a bit about 'dropping 8bit gaming metaphors' onto the real world using nike+.

October said...

Just yesterday, I was telling a friend how much I missed running and how I wanted to be able to run again (I'm soooo out of shape), and I made a goal to be back into a consistent running routine by summer. This makes that goal even better!

It would be nice if their service included a way to add people as friends on your account, etc. Or... maybe they do have that feature and I haven't found it yet.

At any rate, I'll be starting off my year with a cool gadget and a new outlook on my exercise routine! Yay!

Ian Timothy said...

I bought a shuffle then I found out about the Nike+ stuff.

Sigh.

Going to have to save up again before I can get this setup.

A game tied to nike+. Somehow, the movie 'Run Lola Run' comes into mind.

Run fast enough, reach certain points in time, prevent or engage in certain interactions and you can change the history for that day.

sebatan said...

hmm....but the sonsor doesn't measure the puls right? for real statistics i cant do it without the frequency...so in this phase the sensor is only a toy.

Larry Ferlazzo said...

Not a comment on your post, but I couldn't see any other way of contacting you.

I thought you might be interested in an article that has just been published by TechLearning about using video games to teach English to recent immigrants:

http://www.techlearning.com/story/showArticle.php?articleID=196604915

Counter Strike said...

I really like the Nike+ system. I had another system that went on my arm and I didn't like it nearly as much. Cool post and cool idea!

FUNNYMAN said...

Exercise and video games? Interesting...

'O' said...

Great idea. God forbid people actually enjoy their exercise. It might be cool to combine a Nike+ based running game with this real world FPS being developed for Google's Android challenge. Not that we need more games with a basis in combat/war (the police in London probably don't want to see another "Assassins" rehash), but being chased has a different vibe than a straight-up race. My college buddies created a Matrix-inspired game where one person was directed to various pay phones on campus to get the location of the "exit" while designated "agents" gave chase. Ah, geeky good times.

Singapore Unity Tuition Agency said...

Man I remem my AirMax.. It was really like walking on air...

nmasters said...

Hi, Just invited you to a challenges on Nike+ - hope you will join this.. :-)

Derick said...

There are other sites and gadgets popping up that work with Nike+. I found a facebook app that posts my runs to my wall and displays other data on a separate tab.
There are also other sites like runnerplus.com that are similar to Nike+, but they accept data from other devices like Garmin as well. You can add friends on this site, but they should be someone you already know, since they don't really offer a search.