How Does the Nike GPS Watch Work

When I first started running, all I was concerned about was losing weight and not hurting myself. However, as I ran more and more, my focus started to shift. Suddenly I was looking for ways to extend my distance, increase my speed and improve my stride so that I could run faster and further while expending the least amount of energy.

The evolution to this mind frame typically coincides with an intense need to track as much data about your run as possible. By seeing the distances that you run, the speed that you run them, as well as the individual mile times from your run, you begin to develop a better and more realistic picture of how you are running and where you need to improve.

I spent a few weeks looking at all of the popular GPS running watches and eventually settled on the Nike + GPS watch, largely due to a recommendation from a friend that I trusted. Since I purchased the watch and have now been using it for several months, I feel like I can provide an accurate description of what you should expect from this watch, as well as a brief overview of how the Nike GPS watch works.

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What Comes With the Nike GPS Watch

Included in the box are:

The Nike + GPS watch

A USB cable that connects the watch to your computer

A Nike foot sensor (you attach this to your shoe, or put it in the specifically designed slot on your Nike shoe)

Instructions and packaging materials

After you have unpacked everything that came with the Nike + GPS watch, the first thing you need to do is download the Nike + Connect software. The instructions for how to do so are included with the watch. This software is one of the most crucial elements in tracking your data, as the software interfaces with your watch, downloads the data, then uploads it to the Nike + profile that you are going to create while setting up your watch. You will need to make some choices while you are configuring the Nike Connect software, such as whether you want to use miles or kilometers, what you want your splits to be, and what the default display units should be on the watch. Note that you can change these settings at any time from the Nike Connect software, if you decide that you don’t like your choices.

Once the software has been installed, you will need to connect the watch to your computer with the included USB cable.

***It took me more time to locate the USB connector on the Nike + GPS watch than I care to admit. If you are also having difficulty finding the connection, you need to flip up one of the ends of the watch band, as it snaps into place there.***

Once the software recognizes the device, it will download any necessary updates for the watch and apply the settings that you chose while you were installing and setting up the Nike Connect software. After everything is finished with the setup, you should probably leave the watch connected, as this is how it charges itself.

How Does the Nike + GPS Watch Work in the Wild

When I first wrote my Nike GPS watch review, I was still awash in the glow of someone that was incredibly happy with simply having the ability to accurately record information from my runs. While I am still really enjoying the watch (and it has stood up remarkably well to the beating that it has taken), I have found that there are some minor flaws that a perspective buyer might want to know about before investing in this watch.

1. Sometimes the GPS syncing can be slow

While this is certainly the exception as opposed to the rule, I have found that there are times when the watch takes a very long time to synchronize with the GPS satellites. However, this should certainly not be a deal breaker, and helps to highlight one of the main reasons you should be considering this watch over other options. Remember that foot pod that came with the watch? You can use that in conjunction with the GPS function! This means that, even when you can’t sync with the GPS, you are still getting run data with the foot pod. It also means that you can track treadmill runs, too.

If you decide that you only want to use one of the sensor options, you can choose the sensor settings from the Run menu on the watch. This menu is accessible by pressing either of the black buttons on the side of the watch.

I have found the foot pod data to be rather accurate, too. I recently ran a ten mile race and forgot to turn the GPS sensor on. The total distance, measured by just the foot pod, was 10.06 miles. That means that, for every mile I ran, the foot pod was off by less than 1/100th of a mile. That seems pretty darn accurate to me.

2. The split beep can be tough to hear

If you configure the watch to beep every time you have gone a specific distance, it can be very difficult to hear if there is a lot of noise. This is a real problem for people that are relying on the watch to tell them when they’ve gone a certain distance, especially for people that are running in a noisy environment like a city. This problem can be overcome by looking at the watch periodically, but I think an option for a louder beep would have been helpful.

3. Occasional distance inconsistencies early on

I don’t know if the Nike GPS watch is capable of “learning” the more that you use it, but this is a problem that I have essentially stopped encountering. I usually do most of my running on the same trail, and the trail has distance markers. The watch is now matching those distance markers almost exactly, on a regular basis, but there was a lot of inconsistency for the first two months that I was using the watch. For example, I would run a certain distance out, turn around, then run back to my car. However, the distance back to the car would be significantly shorter or longer than the distance out. Again, I am no longer having this issue, but is is something that I’ve experienced.

With those problems out of the way, i have found the watch to be beneficial to my running habits, and the ability to share my profile information with friends (you don’t have to if you don’t want to) is a driving motivation in getting me out and running as much as possible. It also feels really good to look at the graphs that the Nike + website provides you of your distances and see that you are improving. You are also assigned a “level” based upon the amount of miles that you have run, and there is a congratulatory video from a professional athlete each time you increase your level.

If you have decided to purchase the Nike + GPS watch, you can do so from a number of different online retailers, such as Amazon.

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