Sunday, December 16, 2007

A few of my favorite things...

Sometimes you come across something that's so splendid, or makes your training universe that much more enjoyable or efficient or easy, that it's good to share. I'm going to try and do that a little more in this space as I come across them - which, for all the geekery and gadgetry in triathlon, is actually pretty rarely (there's a lot of expensive crap out there.)

First up:

It starts with the iPod Nano:



This is the newest iPod Nano, with video. I have the previous version - or "2G" as it's known in Apple Geekdom (meaning "Second Generation"):



The iPod Nano starts at $149. (Sorry, blogger's going haywire with the images here...)

Now add the Nike + kit. This is a $30 little receiver and transmitter - the receiver goes into the dock connector on the bottom of the iPod, and the transmitter you can put on your shoe - you've probably seen these around. With this combined gadgetry, you can track mileage, pace, time, etc. through you Nano, and then use the Nike + website to track your data - you remember some of us used this last year to have "virtual" races or workouts together. Which is really cool, and probably I'll do that again this winter if anybody's interested, but I found that I really like having my Garmin 305 with me, as it's the consistent feedback monitor I have year round; so I know how fast 5 miles feels in January or July. The Nano, while pretty decent, was never as accurate as I'd have liked for actual monitoring of my workouts long-term. But, with the Nike + kit, you have that little receiver, which is the necessity for what I really want to talk about - the Nike Amp iPod remote:



I have the black one, and got it from Nikestore.com for $80, I think. It's an extremely useful wrist gadget that has an interesting interface for a normal everyday watch (the "watch" is hidden underneath the stylish black band - it really just looks like a bracelet most of the time - until you press a button. It's actually become my daily watch, as well), but has a really low-profile control panel on it too to control the iPod. When I got this, training with my iPod really became second nature - until this point, I had the iPod on an arm band, which was well enough, but changing the song or heaven forbid the volume was always a hassle, especially in winter with running gloves on. With the Amp, the watch talks to the receiver plugged into the iPod, and I can control volume and back/next track right from the watch, with buttons easy enough to manage even with running gloves on. Very, very cool. Timex has recently come out with their own version of this, called iControl, which is probably even more useful - it's an actual standard Ironman watch, with all the usual functions, plus the ability to remotely control the iPod. I think that's about $90 or so.

The only problem now as been headphones, which finding a pair that fits well and doesn't fall out when ears get sweaty, and which stay in place, and which sound good, etc. etc. is an adventure in its own right. But come winter, trying to cram headphones underneath a stocking hat or ear warmers has never been comfortable at all. Problem solved: For Christmas, Amy gave me this:



Cleverly (or unfortunately) called the "Hatphone", it's a Nike hat with a built in pocket for your iPod, with built in headphones and a cable that connects easily to your iPod's headphone jack. The whole ensemble stays easily contained, and best of all are the earphones that are absorbed into the lining of the hat, so there's no hat ramming earbuds into your ears. I ran with it today and it was toasty and sounded very good, to my surprise - you can kind of finagle the headphones inside the hat to be where you want them in relationship to your ears. Brilliant! I think this was about $60 - which is a hella lot for a hat with headphones built in, no matter how much I enjoy it.

Right, so I know that added up, the whole shebang is approaching $350, which is crazy. But I like to think it's a little more piecemeal than that - where your Garmin, for instance, has really one and only one use - to be along on the bike or while running, the iPod and the watch are certainly multi-purpose. Plus, a lot of us already have iPods. A lot of us will have cause to get a new running watch sometimes - could just as easily make it the iControl from Timex. The hat really isn't a whole lot more expensive than any other functional high-tech piece of outerwear (but it's still just a hat...). The cost is easier to absorb, and justify, if seen in pieces, I think, rather than as a single "this will make running in the winter more endurable" kind of cost.

So - if tunes are an important part of your training, and especially if you already have an iPod Nano or are in the market for one, consider all the pieces you can add onto it bit by bit. I've built up this collection of gadgetry over time, and have finally found an easy, seamless way to deal with tunes hassle free for winter running. Now if only they'd come up with an iPod attachment that cut my 5k pace down under 7 minutes...

1 comment:

TZilla said...

Yah gotta love technology!