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Good news for runners who use non-Nike shoes: The Nike+iPod Sport Kit has given me accurate milage results when used as described in the Podophile shoe mod. I’ve done several simple tests, and have been quite happy with the results.

Yesterday, I ran until I had reached 2 miles on the iPod counter. Then I stopped that session and started a new one, running back to my starting point. The reading: 2.03 miles. So the reading of my pace and stride were consistent over two separate runs.

Next, I jumped into my car and drove the same course. The odometer hit 2 miles just a few yards before I reached the stopping point of my run. My odometer only measures tenths of miles, so I’m not sure how many hundredths it was off, but my guess is less than five.

Today I mapped out a three mile course on Gmaps Pedometer and went walking. When I reached the end of the course, the iPod read 2.84 miles. Again, I took out the car and drove the course and my odometer read 2.9 miles. Good enough for me.

The results are absolutely within the range of what I had expected from the Nike+iPod Kit (if not better). It should be noted that these were done with the default calibration. If you’re a stickler for pin-point accuracy, or your results aren’t as good as mine, you can manually calibrate the unit (requires that you know the exact distance of a course, like a quarter-mile track). I suspect that the default calibration will be acceptable for most runners.

The question I can’t answer is whether the accelerometer would be any more (or less) accurate in a Nike+ shoe than under the laces of my regular running shoe. That would require me actually getting the Nike shoes to test, and unless the good people at Nike send me a pair for evaluation (size 13, please), I probably won’t be doing that.

Overall, I’m extremely happy with the results I’m getting from this product, and very thankful that Nike and Apple made it possible to use it with alternative running shoes. As for Nike, they don’t need to worry about me….they’re still getting my money. I just bought a Nike iPod armband for my wife, and I really like some of the new running clothes they’ve just introduced. Ca-ching!

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67 Responses to “Nike+iPod: Accuracy with the Podophile shoe mod”

  1. Jason says:

    That truely is great news. I haven’t run in Nike’s for years and would be a little nervous about spending $100 on a shoe that may not perform like what I am use to running in. I have one question for you. I have never run with my current iPod and I am curious as to what headphones you use while running. I like the sound quality of the Apple earbuds but am not sure that they would stay in my ears if I ran with them. Any input would be appreciated. Thanks

  2. Podophile says:

    Hi Jason -

    This will be the subject of an upcoming entry, so I’ll go into more detail then, but the best headphones I’ve found for running are the Sennheiser PX-100. They’re the traditional, over-the-head style with foam pads that rest on your ears. Amazon sells them for just under $40 (there’s a more expensive white version, too). They have a very comfortable, snug fit and they sound great. I’ll write more about them soon.

  3. For running specifically, I use the black Nike earbuds they sell at the Apple Store. They have a curved bar that is adjustable and holds the bud to your ear. Decent sound and hold on tight too.

  4. ashpole says:

    Hi Podophile,

    This is great! I’m a little middle aged(!) and would like to use the Nike+iPod kit, but I would only use it for walking – does it still register your steps without having to pound the ground when running?

    Also, why don’t you set up a PayPal donation link for $1 each to get a pair of Nike trainers – you’d certainly get my dollar and probably enough to test them out for us?

    Mike

  5. Andy says:

    Great post!

    I have considered the kit, but here in Denmark/Europe, it’s not for sale yet. I think the price for the special Nike shoes (only) will be around $200-250, so this post is really interesting!

    Is is possible to change the settings to metric/kilometres?

    I use the standard white earbuds from Apple when running. I have run more than 70 miles with those earbuds without problems.

  6. Podophile says:

    Hello Andy – Yes, you can change the settings to metric.

  7. Beth says:

    Thanks so much for doing these tests and showing how you attached it to your shoes. I’m looking
    forward to getting one very soon.
    And Jason, I use the apple earbuds that came with my ipod. I really haven’t had any problems with
    them. Maybe sometimes I pull out the wire with my arm while running- but that’s not really their
    fault!

  8. Beth says:

    “The question I can’t answer is whether the accelerometer would be any more (or less) accurate in a Nike+ shoe than under the laces of my regular running shoe.”

    Well, I foung this link where they did some tests on the device with the Nike shoes. Note the stats for accuracy that are given by both RW and Nike. Seems that your tests are right on!

    http://www.runnersworld.co.uk/news/article.asp?UAN=2343&v=1&sp=

  9. Diego says:

    This is great! I already have a pair of running shoes. I don’t want to by a new pair just because nike wants me to. My only concern is: Will the transmitter crash if I’m running and suddenly starts to rain? Anyway thanks man for this great idea!

  10. Susan says:

    That’s just brilliant. Just brilliant.

  11. Jeffrey says:

    Headphones:

    I actually use Logitech Curve Headphones. The work well and sound good for less than $15 dollars.

  12. Step says:

    Thanks so much for this!! I’ve been eagerly waiting to make sure this would be the case! I’m fairly opposed to buying Nike shoes, not to mention that they won’t fit my (wide) feet.

    You rock!

  13. Podophile says:

    “Also, why don’t you set up a PayPal donation link for $1 each to get a pair of Nike trainers – you’d certainly get my dollar and probably enough to test them out for us?”

    Thanks for the suggestion. However, I’m actually so pleased with the results I’m currently getting, that I’m not really too interested in how well it works with the Nike+ shoes. I’m sure the big running magazines and websites will be testing them soon enough.

  14. ashpole says:

    Podophile,

    No problem! One question though (yes, I was serious!) does the gizmo in the shoe detect walking steps, I’d like to use but can’t run!

    Mike

  15. Podophile says:

    Yes, it tracks walking distance quite accurately (but I’m not sure it keeps track of the number of steps).

  16. Michael says:

    Jason,

    I always run with my iPod too and have found the Apple earbuds to be terrible. I bought some Earbuds a few months back that warp around the ears (black or white available) by Pioneer at Target or Target.com for only $9.99. Hope this helps.

  17. sean says:

    I’ve been using these for a while: http://www.bestbuy.com/site/olspage.jsp?skuId=5335657&type=product&id=1051826204520

    They work well enough and are cheap.

  18. thespiderman says:

    I also won’t wear Nike shoes, but wanted the Nike+. As soon as my transmitter arrived, I took out the insert in the left Brooks running shoe of mine and got out a single edge razor blade. I had looked at a pair of Nike+ shoes at a local store and saw where I’d need to place my transmitter. I put it in the right spot of my shoe and traced around it with a pencil. I then used the razor blade and carved out my own place for a transmitter. It doesn’t look all beautiful and smooth, but the transmitter fits in the place and after the insert is put back, I can’t tell. I can’t feel anything different. I’ve run regularly with it and it works wonderfully. I’m not worried about permanently damaging my shoes, because the transmitter is in a place that won’t receive any wear. The shoes will get enough mileage to be demoted to “lawn mowing” shoes and I won’t care at all if they have a hole under the insert. I can just fill it with a rag or part of an old sock and I’ll never notice. This takes care of any concerns about rain or losing the transmitter.

  19. wuster says:

    I recently bought a pair of Adidas Microrides, and it has an opening on the side where you can slide in your transmitter, where it coincidentally pinches snuggly at the center. I have ran a few times and it seems to be working perfectly.

  20. Sornson says:

    I’m curious to see how accurate it is on a track. Try finding a local track to run on. It gives you a flat, smooth surface and you’ll know your exact distant rather than trying to retrace your exact path in a car.

    I bought a nike tail-wind about 3 years go, Nike’s first attempt at a pedometer. It came with a sensor, rather large compared to this, that you attached to the shoe laces of any shoe. The sensor communicated with the watch through FM radio signals. I tested it out on a track – ran 1 mile (4 laps) and it was accurate to about 4 steps, to bad it had a crappy interface and the button on the sensors fell off.

  21. Andy says:

    Also interested in the Nike+; I have the Nano and a very good pair of Asics, so therefore am not up for shelling out on a pair of Nikes. Been reading this blog and I am happy to hear that UK and Stateside runners need a solution.

    You may all be interested in knowing that I am currently designing a waterproof rubber ‘pocket’ to hold the transmitter onto the laces. I’m a qualified product designer and have facilities for design, development and small batch production.

    So if anyone is interested watch this space…

  22. Mary Ann says:

    Love the site, and have used all the info to add Nike+ipod to my brand new Mizunos!

    Not sure where to post this question: Any ideas on the best running case for the nano that will also accomodate the nike+ receiver?

  23. Rich says:

    I cut a hole in my shoe’s tongue and slipped the transmitter in there but its been extremely inaccurate (I ran 4 plus miles and it showed as 1.23). Is there a reason placing it in the tongue would be any more inaccurate than in the laces? I tried to calibrate twice and each time I got an error message saying the distance didn’t match the reading.

  24. Podophile says:

    Hi Rich -

    There are a few things you’ll want to check. 1) Make sure that the transmitter is logo-side-up. Someone reported that it is inaccurate when used upside-down. 2) Make sure the transmitter doesn’t move around inside the tongue while you’re running. You may need to stuff some tissue in to secure it. 3) Make sure it’s oriented length-wise, not sideways. 4) Try to slide the transmitter down the tongue, toward your toes. This will help keep it as parallel to the ground as possible when standing still. If it’s near your ankle, it will probably be more perpendicular to the ground.

    If these tips don’t help, try my “shoe mod” with velcro under the laces. If it still doesn’t work, you may have a defective transmitter.

  25. Rich says:

    Thanks for the tips, I am not sure how secure it is in there and am not even sure it is right-side-up. I will try again tomorrow and if not, put together the shoe mod. Thanks again.

  26. Jamie says:

    “I cut a hole in my shoe’s tongue and slipped the transmitter in there but its been extremely inaccurate (I ran 4 plus miles and it showed as 1.23). Is there a reason placing it in the tongue would be any more inaccurate than in the laces? I tried to calibrate twice and each time I got an error message saying the distance didn’t match the reading.”

    Hey Rich,

    Had the exact same problem in my first run with the Nike+iPod today. I had the transmittor mounted on the back of my tongue towards the top (with duct tape) just to see if it would work (as a temporary solution)… I ran .5 miles to calibrate it and it came up as .1 miles (pretty much the same ratio as your 4 mile run which came up as 1.23 miles on the iPod).

    Going to try mounting it horizontally under the laces as Podophile suggests and I’ll report how it works out for me in tomorrow’s run.

    Here’s hoping!
    - Jamie

  27. Jaris says:

    Hi,
    can somebody confirm me if it can be used with units in Km instead of miles?
    Thanks in advance.

  28. podophile says:

    Jaris – Yes, you can switch from miles to km on the settings screen.

  29. eric says:

    loved you suggestion on how to use non-nike with the +. velcro is a good idea, but even easier
    is to place a small slit in the tongue and slip the reviever into it. most tongues are mulit layered so there is a
    so there is a natural pocket.

  30. Michael says:

    Hey Rich or Jamie I was wondering if the tips solved your problems with the inaccuracy of the unit? I was having the same issues.

    Thanks,

    Michael

  31. mmdmurphy says:

    I keep seeing “ipod nano” I have the 60 gig iPod video (yea, I know that dropping it could be BAD).

    Any problem using Nike+ ipod with Video ipod?

  32. Podophile says:

    @mmdmurphy – At this time, the Sport Kit only works with the nano.

  33. Dave says:

    A pushbike is the best thing for measuring courses barring perhaps GPS. Most bike computers are accurate to 10 metres and are very easy to calibrate accurately themselves, either with a bit of maths or a tape and chalk.

    Bikes are a great way to explore routes because you can easily cover 50+km and you can measure distances accurately, and even gradient with some computers.

    I guess that stuff exists for runners and GPS can do all of it, but if you already have a bike, all that can be yours from about EUR 20.

  34. Big Laker says:

    Great idea! Thanks for the tip. I just got my nano and Nike kit today. I don’t have the Nike + shoes and haven’t decided if I’ll go your route or just cut a hole in the sole of my shoes. Either way, thanks for testing this out.

  35. zippewa says:

    Love your site! It prompted my to get the nike+ system which i love. HOWEVER…. have you heard of any malfunctioning kits? i continue to get “shorted” about a half a mile for every 5K. Which in turn thorws my pace calculation way off, and recently ive discovered that even the time is wrong. I ran a 5k race in 23:55, and it said 30 minutes! I wear Asics GT-2110s which are awesome for the transmitter, as the velcro sticks to the material of the shoe tongue beautifully, and doesn’t move at all. I calibrated once on a track, but it didn’t seem to help much.

  36. Podophile says:

    Yes I have read reports of defective kits that give wildly inaccurate results. I’ve also read that Apple has exchanged the bad kits for people in their stores with no questions asked. I haven’t tried it myself. If you take it in to exchange it, report back and let us know how it goes. (You shouldn’t even need to mention that you’re not using the Nike shoes… just that your distances and timings are very inaccurate.) Good luck.

  37. ae1177 says:

    The reason for the inacurate mileage when just putting the sensor in your laces or the tongue could be the angle or direction the sensor is in the shoe. Because its an acelerometer and not a pedometter it is important the sensor be laying face up, forward and parrallel to the ground. I had similar problems until realizing that positioning was causing my problems. Runing on a 1/4 track I have been getting better than 99% acuracy over 6 mile runs, usually I end up about 5 -10 yards short of my goal.

  38. Byron says:

    I am having a lot of trouble in the accuracy of my unit(s)(Yes, I have bought two, thinking there might be a problem with the first unit), however I don’t run or walk with it but instead use an elliptical trainer. While the machine says I have gone 2.5 miles, I have results as small as 0.13 miles to 3.45 miles for the same period of time.

    Do you think this is because my foot always stays on the ground on this trainer, and it is just my legs swinging back and forth?

  39. roamphilly says:

    Is anyone sucessfully useing a nike+ipod on an elliptical machine?
    My knees are shot
    so I see the ipod & elliptical machine often.
    But I just can’t get the nike+ipod sensor to read any leg motion.
    Is it a bad sensor or just a lack of impact due to the ellipical
    machines design.

  40. podophile says:

    I’d be very surprised if you could get any kind of accurate reading from the Sport Kit with an elliptical machine (or cycling, for that matter). The foot motion is completely different from running. You could try walking with your Nike+iPod to see if you have a bad sensor or not. The kit measures walking just fine.

  41. grace says:

    i just got this kit for my birthday and am fiddling around with it. i googled “nike + ipod without shoes” and found your site. great website! i read most of your articles regarding how to modify shoes, but the article in which you quote EETimes (Inside the Nike + ipod sports kit) seems to suggest that shoe mods and poches might interfere with the accuracy. i’m not all that electronically saavy, so i might have misunderstood the article. can you let me know if modifications with calibrations keeps it accurate enough? also, what about duct tape? i was thinking of creating a pouch-like device with duct tape and velcro (so as to not have to directly apply the velcro onto my sensor)? thanks again for all your help.

  42. Adam Hemming says:

    First of all, fantastic site! Thanks.
    Has anyone else found that whilst road running the kit is accurate, but really quite inaccurate if used on a treadmill? (unless its the treadmill that is inaccurate?).Must be the different running pattern.

  43. Daniel says:

    Hi and thanks a lot for all of your help with Nike +. It’s a pleasure share all of these experience with all of you.
    I found a much more easy solution. It’s so easy, i used a tiny Adidas Pocket attached to the laces of my Saucony where i usually keep the keys of my home for keep something else… the sensor, and i have to say that it works perfectly.
    I checked it comparing the results with my Garmin Foretrex and it fits perfectly.
    Hope to be useful.

  44. When you calibrate the Nike+, it lets you calibrate running and/or walking separately. For the elliptical trainer, has anyone tried calibrating the walking side of the Nike+ while actually on the elliptical trainer? That may solve your problem, though I haven’t tried it myself. When I do, I’ll report back.

  45. Podophile says:

    I think the problem with elliptical trainers isn’t the speed… it’s more likely foot motion. On an elliptical machine both feet are moving back and forth continuously, but while running or walking one foot is planted on the ground while the other foot (and your body) moves forward. I believe the sensor takes into account the time your foot is at rest and the time it is in motion. If both feet are always moving, then a critical piece of data is missing. I think this also explains why results with Nike+iPod on a treadmill are so inconsistent: Though it simulates running better than an elliptical, your “planted” foot is moving backwards as opposed to your body moving forward. Just an educated guess on my part.

  46. Brett says:

    Another method you can try, which also works quite well, is cutting the finger off of an old pair of knit winter gloves. Stick the transmitter in the finger and either sew or staple the finger to the tongue of your shoe under the laces. When laced up, it’s snug, secure, and doesn’t move a centimeter.

  47. Hazel says:

    Has anyone tried putting the nike transmitter in one of those velcro key pouches that you can slip through the tops of your laces? I thought that might be an effortless alternative, make it easy to move to an alternate pair of shoes, and provide some protection to the device. I was wondering if it would work that way?

  48. Jacki says:

    Thanks so much for this post! I was thinking of getting the Nike + system for my husband for Christmas, and am thrilled to know that the shoes aren’t necessary!!