Run Like You’ve Never Run Before: Reviewing Nike+

On: September 22, 2008
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About Sarah van der Land
I obtained my first MA in International Business Communication at the Radboud University Nijmegen in 2006 on improving HIV/Aidsprevention documents in South Africa ( After graduating, I worked in advertising as a junior strategist for THEY. Six months later, I returned to academia where I co-authored a book on ‘how advertising influences you unconsciously’ at SWOCC (part of the UvA). And just recently I worked at the VU University on a project concerning Second Life. Currently, I am an PhD Candidate at the VU University Amsterdam, conducting research on Virtual Worlds.


“In long distance running the only opponent you have to beat is yourself, the way you used to be.” – Haruki Murakami (Japanese novelist, marathon runner)

What increases a person’s motivation to start running? And if a person’s already an experienced runner, what helps him or her to cope with the loneliness of long distance runs and improve their performance? Nike and Apple recently established a collaboration called Nike+, which intends to support runners combatting motivational issues. From a New Media perspective, two applications of Nike+ are of our particular interest: the GPS sensor and the web 2.0 social community site that has been established by Nike+ to virtually connect runners all over the globe.

Nike+’s promotional video

Evaluation of Nike+’s features

One of the key features I love about Nike+ is that the application allows you to set up a goal before running and provides you real-time data on your run. This is great for several reasons. In the past, when I was training for a race and want to go for a 10K run, I’d have to plan a fixed 10K route beforehand and stick to it. With Nike+, I’m able to experience the freedom of running wherever I wish, while keeping track of my distance. This increases the levels of spontaneity and unexpectedness in my runs. Secondly, during my run, my Nano will tell me when I’ve reached the ‘halfway point’ and congratulating me when I’ve ‘achieved my goal of running 10K’. And if I happen to achieve a personal record, Lance Armstrong will congratulate me as well.Such features add an element of competition to running, which makes running less dull and more interesting.

What I currently miss in Nike+ as a ‘fanatic runner’ is that the application does not offer an interval training programme. To improve your speed and performance on races, interval training is a must. But yet, interval training is something most runners do not particularly enjoy. Nike+ would be more interesting for professional runners if it would offer a feature that indicates if your current speed is inline with your set goals, or if you should take it up a notch.

Another point of critique with respect to the GPS system, concerns issues of privacy. Recent research has shown that it is relatively easy for hackers to track the runs of Nike+ users. For instance, if President Bush would use his Nike+ in Washington D.C., within a couple of weeks vicious hackers would exactly know what his favourite running route was, and hence they would be able to stalk him.

Nevertheless, taking these issues into account, Nike+ is a great application to keep runners motivated. Nike+ increases the running experience by bringing Nike+ runners from all over the world in contact with each other on a virtual 2.0 platform and creating elements of competition. And doesn’t every runner secretly want to know where he or she stands in comparison to others?

Interested in Nike+ ?

Check here for an inspirational movie.

* By placing the sensor in a small plastic bag and tying your shoelaces over it, you are able to avoid paying 110 euros for a pair of Nike Airzoom shoes, and hence have the freedom to choose your own running shoe brand.



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