It is kind of fitting that yesterday I completed my 500 mile milestone on Nike+. Originally, I started using Nike+ because it was the only app that I could use on my iPod touch that would keep track of runs using the accelerometer.
After a while, I adapted a script to export the stats into a text file that I could share. I continued to use Nike+ because I had friends using it. But, recently the number of friends actively using Nike+ has been dwindling. Also, I found the app iSmoothRun which also worked for treadmill running and used the iPod’s accelerometer. iSmoothRun had the added benefit that it could use Bluetooth Smart devices (heart rate monitors and footpods) and could export to a whole slew of running sites — like Nike+, Strava, MapMyFitness, Movescount, Garmin Connect and more.
Since I started running outside again, getting my runs into Nike+ wasn’t much of an issue since there was the script tcx2nikeplus. But, Nike+ the site has always been unstable and slow. Often times I cannot sync with it because of maintenance (usually at night past 11pm PST). Using the site itself is a test of patience because each click resulted in a long wait. The trophies were really great, but they had a habit of not showing up after I earned them, which is most demotivating. I also never understood the point of Nike Fuel.
This is not to say that the Nike+ site is all bad. The ideas that they have behind it are great. The trophies, if they worked are an awesome motivator (usually pushing me to run more in order to earn Bronze, Silver and even Gold trophies). The different color levels are really nice also. I really liked some of their non-hardcore data analysis, for instance the break down of when I run most (by days and also by times of day).
So, about hitting 500 miles on Nike+… I figured this would be a good time to break away from Nike+ and start using a different platform that is more open to third parties. I had been trying out Strava for a bit and really like the clean and fast interface. Strava recently worked with both Suunto and Garmin to allow for automatic synchronization of their respective sites to Strava. This makes it painless to have runs all in one place.
I recently picked up a Garmin Fenix 2 and have been using it for a month, uploading everything to Garmin Connect and having that mirrored over to Nike+ (using the tcx2nikeplus script) and Strava. The GPS accuracy on the Fenix 2 is not that great and I just picked up a Suunto Ambit3 to replace it — my first run with the Ambit3 showed that the accuracy on the Ambit3 is much (much) better than the Fenix 2. The Ambit3 uploads its runs to Movescount, which like Connect, automatically sends the runs to Strava too.
Unlike Nike+, Strava lets me export all my runs without any problems. Strava provides an API like Nike+ and because of this, I was able to adapt my Nike+ export script to also export my Strava statistics into a nice text file for reference (script here). Using the Nike+ Data Exporter website, I was able to dump all of my Nike+ runs into individual TCX and GPX files. From there, I imported all the TCX files into Strava and now I have all my run history in Strava.
So, after more than a year of using Nike+ to track 500 miles of running, I have now moved away from it. I will be using Strava for all my run tracking now. If you run or cycle and want to be friends on Strava, you can find me here.