So, just to prove to you (and to myself - I'm still in shock) I shot this video of me looking like crap after my run. You can read a more in-depth review of the Nike+iPod kit after the turn. Oh, and ignore that weird rattling you can hear half way through (when I turn to see what it is). It was my cat squeaking and tapping the cat flap to get my attention.
PTO for an in-depth review of the Nike+iPod Sports Kit
I don't usually use an iPod [pause while everyone draws a sharp intake of breath] so I had all sorts of fun and games getting it all set up and ready, but if you're already a firm follower of the Apple faith, you should find getting it up and running (running being the operative word) very easy. You just need to update your nano, make sure you've got the latest version of iTunes, plug in your special Nike receiver, and replace the foamy filler in your trainer (sneaker) with the Nike transmitter widget.
The Nike menu will appear on your iPod nano, and it's there that you can set up runs, choosing runs based on things like time, distance or calories burned. Sadly for me, the minimum running settings are 20 minutes, 3km or 2 miles. I could have created a custom run of - say - 10 minutes, but then the Nike+iPod would have thought I was a loser.
Before you set off, you should also decide whether you want a male or a female voice to give you your travel/time updates and which tune you want as your PowerSong which is supposed to be the one tune that will keep you powering on through till the end. I chose Diamonds & Rust by Joan Baez. Not because it has thumping power chords (it doesn't) but because I hoped the lyrics might help to keep my mind off the pain (they didn't).
You can also create special running playlists, probably featuring things like "You're The Best" from the Karate Kid, the theme tune from Rocky, Eye of the Tiger and the song from the workout scene of Flashdance. I was too impatient to do that, so I relied on Shuffle, which for reasons best known to itself decided to feed me a constant diet of old grunge tunes. Not exactly a great running soundtrack. Still - it did at least give me an excuse to stop every now and then under the pretence that I couldn't operate my nano whilst mobile.
Even though I'm incredibly lazy when it comes to running (I get up to a slight puff and then stop for a wander), I did find the voice telling me how far I had to go very motivating. In fact, I was surprised to discover my legs going for a sprint finish as I neared the end.
The other really good thing about this service is the web extras. Sign up for the free Nike+iPod account and you can upload your running stats, check out how other people round the country (and soon the world) are doing, and see who's currently top of the leaderboard. Obviously, I'm never going to reach the dizzy heights of even the top 500, but Nike has been clever enough to add a "Personal Goals" section where you can set yourself challenges. I foolishly said I'd aim to run 5 times in the next two weeks and now I very nearly feel obliged to do those 5 runs. I'll certainly think about running *at least* 5 times in the next 2 weeks, which is an achievement of sorts.
So to conclude this entirely too lengthy review (it's a big deal ok, I ran), I think this is an excellent service - so long as you're happy to be wed to both Nike and Apple for ever more. Similar services are available: Nokia has a sports phone with a pedometer that will give you feedback, there's also the BioTrainer, MP3 Pedometers, and the Fitbug and numerous other services. But none of them combine music, online fitness tracking, community and pedometer features in such an easy, accessible and - let's face it - big brand solution.