Tag Archives: apple watch

Running with Nike+ on Apple Watch

Time to answer some questions about using the watch on its own.

The Nike+ Running Club app has been deeply integrated into the Apple Watch now since they introduced the GPS version. But I feel it is only now that it is all starting to come together and work as a holistic system.

Do you still need the phone with you?

No, you can now just run with the watch. I have the Apple Watch 4 with both the GPS and a paid cell line connected to the watch. This, in theory, means that I have everything I need to make this work. You don’t really need to have the cell service connected to track your run, but I like the security of being able to call for help (for me or anyone else that has problems) or to pull up a map if I get lost.

There are some features that you can only setup by using the companion app on the iPhone, including: shoe tracking, route details (trail, road, etc.), and note taking. But the core items for running now work independent of the phone. You also have to use the phone app to configure the screen layout options for the Nike+ displays on the watch. Very odd, but I guess they do this to keep the watch interface as simple as possible.

Some other observations with this: if you want to use the watch during the run and have your phone with you, you’ll probably still need to start it from your watch. Occasionally, when I start it from my phone it will appear on my watch, but mostly it doesn’t.

Can I Run with Podcasts?

When I run I tend to listen to podcasts which now have an app on the Apple Watch, since iOS 12. You’ll need to pair you Bluetooth headphones to the watch to make this work. However, it doesn’t support playlists, so this means that after each episode ends, you have to switch over to the podcast app and select another to listen to. This works well and I haven’t yet had that screw up the run tracking.

To achieve this while running and using the Nike+ run club app, single press the button on the Apple Watch (not the scroll wheel) and select the podcast app. Not the ‘now playing’ app as that won’t help you. Once in the podcast app, select the option in the top left corner to go back to the list and select another episode. Once you have it, press the play button.

I’ve noticed that the watch will switch back to the run automatically if you wait long enough, but I generally just take care of this myself by double-clicking the scroll wheel to switch to the last app used. In this case, that will take you back to the Nike+ app.

What About the Guided Runs?

The iPhone app offers a large selection of guided runs where a coach or celeb will talk o through various different run types. This is now available on the watch. You have to make sure to download the in you want to your watch before you set out, it once it is there I found that the integration works really well.

These runs are typically very high quality, with good banter between the coaches and any celeb guests. They will help you understand differently paces and keep the weekly grind more interesting.

This week, for instance, I did a speed run hosted by a British coach (Coach MacRae, Sally?) that did a six minute warm up, a pause for a stretch, then followed up with a minute at mile pace (9/10), three minutes at 5k pace, a few more minutes at 10k pace, then a few more minutes at recovery pace. It was unusual to do a speed run that got slower through the progression, but it was quite a refreshing approach.

Recorded on Apple Watch. Tweeted from iPhone in NRC app.

These guided runs are well implemented and work really well. If have Apple Music, they will integrate with a sound track, but I don’t pay for that!

Completing the Run.

At the end of the run, you can simply stop and wait for the watch to detect this, or slide the screen to find the pause button. Once paused, you are presented with the options to ‘resume’ the run or to ‘stop’ it.

It the gives you a results summary screen and may announce some congratulatory commentary from a famous runner/celeb.

If you scroll to the bottom of the results you’ll see the ‘done’ button. Press this to finish it all up.

Updating the Stats.

Once you are back with your phone, you’ll be able to update the stats and other info in the companion app on the iPhone.

Tracking the mileage on each pair of shoes is very useful if you are putting in a lot of miles, although you’ll know when your shoes are done by the way your legs and feet feel at the end of a run. For my running style and shoe combination I can get around 400 miles per pair. That may be significantly more for some people, or less for others. The only way to find out is to track the shoes.

Awards

The Nike+ app does like to award achievements as you progress through the various programs. You may get a trophy for running 3x per week, for example. For taking part in the Sunday 10k.

Will You Miss Anything Running Without The Phone?

The camera. As a blogger it is helpful to have the camera with you to snap a shot for the page, or to memorialize a glorious sunrise. But at this time of year it is fine as it is mainly pitch dark when I run in the mornings.

The playlists. If you are going on a long run and want to string a number of podcasts together, this can be a pain. You’ll have to manually select and start each one on the watch. You also need to make sure that they downloaded to the watch. It is worth noting, however, that you can use Apple Music playlists just fine.

Social Media integration. Possibly. You cannot do any of this from the watch. You have to do it when you sync back up with the Nike+ app on the phone.

Summary

I’m loving having the freedom to run without my phone. It is quite liberating but still allows me to collect the stats I’m interested in and listen to music or podcasts. Today I ran 12 miles with just the watch and my Bluetooth headphones, and everything worked perfectly (again).

I’ve been up since 6:30 am, I ran 12 miles while listening to podcasts with just the watch, I took my son trampolining and tracked my exercise there with the watch and paid from some stuff using Apple Pay. It is now 9pm and the watch still has 22% power left. Pretty. Darned. Good. 🙂

Nice work, Nike!

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Marathon Training Update & Nike+

Early mornings can suck sometimes. Especially when you have to run on a holiday. 

But then you come across a view like the photo above and it’s all worth it. Very few others saw this site. All of time waited for me to witness this. 

My Nike+ training plan gave me a relatively light week last week but is stepping it up this week. 

I had several speed runs last week which I still find tough to get motivated for even though only last for half an hour at the most. 

I had two speed workouts; one that was 12×200 and another that was 8×400. All with short recovery times because the mornings were chilly. 

The Nike+ Running Club app on my phone has now broken one of the nice new features! It no longer repeats the info from the phone on your Apple watch. Twice this week it crashed on the watch but kept running on the phone. In fact, it never really started up properly. 

I had to delay my Friday long run as we decided to have a family breakfast and I couldn’t run after that! So I ended up going out on Sunday morning for a 12.75 miler in the temperate weather that hit this weekend. 50F is rather surprising for February. 

Later that day, Nike+ asked me to update my run programme and when it did this it put down a 12.5 mile run for Monday too. What a cow! I think “Nicki” (my name for the voice of the Nike+ app) has got it in for me. 😦

This week is going to be tough with the 12.5 miler today, a benchmark run, a 6 mile recovery run and then an 18.5 miler on Friday. 

I’m going to have to increase my food intake as I’m starting to feel like my legs are very heavy and underpowered. 

Nike+ Niggles Resolved

Mostly.

Last week Nike released an update for their Apple Watch and iPhone app. 

One of the major things that it fixed is something I had commented on in these pages before: when you start the run from your phone it doesn’t put any info on your watch! 

Thankfully, they seem to have resolved this along with putting some additional thought into the solution. 

For one thing, once you start the run on the phone and then get going , if the watch loses contact with the phone it will politely ask you if you wish to continue the run from your watch. Nicely done, Nike. 

Also, if you are running this way and you pass a distance milestone (each half-mile in my setup) it will announce the distance through your headphones that are connected to the phone, but also do a little chime on the watch so that you know you are progressing. 

All-in-all this was a nice update from Nike and I haven’t seen any new problems from it. 

On Friday morning I followed along with my running plan and completed a sixteen mile run. 

To do this on a Friday morning met hitting the streets right around five AM so I could complete it and still get into work on time. The picture above shows the view from my front window. 

It was very cold at 8F (that’s including the windchill; 20F actual) but it was beautiful out. The full moon illuminated the streets perfectly and was enhanced by the snow fall from the previous day; so, while it wasn’t quite full daylight, it was very easy to see without a flashlight. 

To get to sixteen miles I had to make up a new route as all my usual runs of that distance would take in State Parks or Trails and they were all covered in five inches of snow. 

So I concocted a route on the roads of Trooper and Skippack that gave me the necessary distance. An out and back route that wound through some pleasant neighbourhoods and skirted along the side of the Evansburg State Park. 

I wasn’t fast but a steady 8:35 pace was pretty good for that early in the morning and being so  dry thoroughly wrapped up (this makes it harder to run). The route had quite a lot of rolling hills, hence the elevation number above. Notice that t also has my heart rate recorded! 

The rest of Friday was a struggle as I was tired and very hungry(rungry). I didn’t help myself as I was in such a rush to get the run started that I didn’t eat beforehand and I only took half a Clif bar with me; oops. I managed not to eat too much junk though. Honestly. 

Nike+ Running Club Update #3

Another week goes by and more quirks are experienced.

Firstly, and perhaps most annoyingly, I had problems with the Apple Watch Nike+ during my long run last week. I was scheduled to run 13.5 miles (on a weekday morning which is, in itself, ridiculous) but at mile 5.5, the damn app just stopped working.

I tried to restart it on the watch but it came up as starting afresh. I didn’t have time to investigate too much as I wanted to complete my run, so I just started the app on my phone and continued for the remaining 8 miles. When I got home I checked in the log and it did at least still have the data for the first run. Phew. 

Then what do you do at the end? The training programme only lets you put one run towards the goal for the day. You cannot combine the efforts. So, after playing around a few times, I gave up and manually created an entry for the 13.5 miles and attributed that to the training plan.

On the Friday it had me doing a 4×400 meter speed run, with 4:30 mins recovery. It was only 21F outside that day so there is was no way that I was going to hang around in the cold for four and a half minutes between each set of reps. I did 1.5 mins and then started out again. This meant that by the last set I was pretty knackered. 

For the route, I found that the cul de sac behind my house was almost exactly 400m around the perimeter. The first run took 6:28… not too bad. The second was faster at 6:08 and then the following sets were back up at the 6:28.

Again, the speed run requires that you keep the phone in your hand so that you can press the button for the start and end of each rep. This makes me feel a little uneasy running hard with a cellphone in my hand.

More on the Nike+ Running Club Experiment

As I progress through the marathon training programme concocted by the Nike+ app, I am enjoying the challenging runs that it is assigning me. 

After last week’s benchmark run it has started to add pace requirements to the runs that I do. Currently, they are all well below the pace that I generally run at which seems a little strange. Perhaps this will adjust as the programme continues?

On Sunday I decided that I didn’t want to do the suggested exercise which was to tryout the Nike+ Fitness Club application. Instead, I opted to run 12 miles. 

The run went well and was an enjoyable run on the Perkiomen Trail from Schwencksville. 

On completing the run, I chose to categorise it as an ‘Other’ event as I had already competed all the runs for that week. 

Come Monday morning and a new training week and guess what? The app tells me I need to do an 11.5 mile run. On a Monday morning. After doing 12 miles the day before. Bugger off!

I tried to reclassify the previous day’s run so that it would count as this one, but to no avail. There’s no way to edit the assignment of previous runs; even the website doesn’t offer a way to do this. Boo. 

Because of this, the app thinks I bailed on the long run for the week. :-(. 

I did actually go out and do a four miler but that isn’t twelve miles!

Roll on to Wednesday morning and the prescribed run was a speed run with 8x800m intervals and 2:45 recovery (strangely specific). 

I wasn’t too happy about this as that’s a lot of intervals but opted to hit the streets. Running track intervals on the road is tough as you have to allow for traffic and the ground is not flat; hills in fast intervals. Yuck. 

For the recovery periods I simply jogged a little and ended up running a total of around 7.5 miles. 

Did you notice how vague that was?

Why? Well, the speed test only counts the distance you run during the speed intervals and not what you cover in the recovery. 

Four miles is all that counted from the 7.5 I covered. Grrr. Not best pleased. 

Any way, one useful thing you can do with these 800s is use them to calculate your estimated marathon time using the “Yasso 800” approach. I know this is a correlation prediction rather than a causation, but it is fun to play with numbers. 

After some finagling of the numbers I worked out that my marathon time would be 3 hours 43 minutes. That’s pretty close to my current expectations of my performance. 

Back to the Nike+ stuff: I’m not best pleased that I have to run the speed tests with the phone in my hands. As I got sweaty I was worried I’d drop my phone. I think I’m going to stick some strong magnets inside my gloves so that they will grip the metal plate in my phone case and take some of my worry away… I’ll let you know how that works out. 

Have a fun week running. 🙂

Fast Tracks New Year Day Run

Happy New Year everyone.

The club’s traditional New Year’s Day run at Valley Forge Park was this morning. It starts at General Knox car park and heads out on the rolling hills of Yellow Springs Road, then takes a sharp right up the vertical challenge of Diamond Rock Road. There were around thirty people at the start point consisting of Fast Tracks members and other from various running groups in the area that we meet with for regular runs.

This run is certainly a challenge as the hill of Diamond Rock is a constant climb and just seems to get worse as you progress; ending with a section that is around a 20% incline (if my cycling memory serves me well).

There were a few of us at the front and we stopped to take a picture at the bottom of the hill (I wasn’t in it; I took it). 

As we started up the main part of the hill there were four of us. Three of us made it to the top within a couple of seconds of each other, although I was there first. 😉

One of the club members lives near the top and had kindly left a few drinks out for us (much appreciated). We all waited a while for the bulk of the group to catch up and then decided on routes back down.

Most went back along the road, but a small group of us decided to do the Horseshoe Trail that connects onto the op of Mount Misery and takes you back to the start point. This is a nice route that runs along the ridge at the top of the hill and is (again) rolling hills.

Parts of the trail get quite technical and it comes at you quite fast too. I missed a couple of turns due to my unfamiliarity with the route, but the people I was with spotted it within a hundred feet or so.

There was a log book partway down the trail and a few people stopped to sign it and some chose to take longer route down the mountain and around the Creek Trail. I stuck to the plan and did the Mount Misery Trail, getting back first out of the group. I rarely run with the groups so I’ll take whatever I can get but will add that it is not a race. I just finished first. Some people were running up the hill with a child in a jogging chair; now that’s dedication.

After hanging back in the parking lot for a while waiting for people to come in and to say a few ‘happy new year’ greetings, I headed back to the car and home.

Here I am in my new Fast Tracks running shirt that I picked up just yesterday in anticipation of the run.
In total the run was 6.9 miles, but, oh those hills! Nike+ Run Club doesn’t seem to give elevation details in the app or in the site.

The Apple Watch worked well today with the distance announcements coming out of the speaker on the watch rather than my iPhone. That made them much easier to hear rather than having them muffled by the case on my arm. Nice touch.

I wish you all a happy new year and hope you enjoy your running in 2017.

Fast Start

This week I finally gave in and started on a more general fitness regime to supplement my running. 

After researching a number of apps that tie into the Apple Watch, I decided upon the Seven fitness application. 

The aim: seven minutes a day for seven months. 

Simple, huh? The app is quite game-based and gives you three ‘lives’ each month to allow you to miss an occasional day. As you complete sessions it unlocks more feature and rewards. 

The app is full of ads that can be removed for a $2 purchase but I’ll wait until I’ve used it for a while to see if it sticks. 

I’m on day two (not much) and I can certainly feel some extra aches and pains from the workout. I already know that the Apple Watch integration is terrible and crashes/hangs often. However, the app itself seems robust. 

It has lots of configuration settings for voices so you can customise for the type of voice you respond best to. It gives clear instruction and has animations to show what you are expected to be doing in each exercise. 

It would have been good if they had tied the app into the Apple Watch sensors to measure the various activities (jumping jacks, running on the spot, etc.). Clearly it would not work for all activities (push-ups, dips) but tying in for the others would have been cool. 

After doing the seven minute session, I then went out on a ten mile run. 

Boy, was I fast!

I’m not sure whether it was the abundance of Saturday morning runners on the trail or that I was already ‘jacked up’ from the earlier workout, but I flew along for the first mile getting 6:30 at the one mile mark. I suspect the GPS may have been off, but I was still shifting. 

The other miles were around 7:20 and slowed once I hit some hills. 

There were plenty of ‘rabbits’ on the trail for me to run down and overtake. Groups from local running clubs, casual runners, and slow bike riders (one of whom was singing at full volume and happy as Larry as she was passing me by; hilarious). 

By the end of my eleven miles I finished with an average 7:37 pace. I’m quite happy with that given the temps were close to 80F. 

My Lumo Run hasn’t turned up yet. 😦  I was hoping to be able to write about it this week and start improving my running deportment. 

18 Lush Miles

Sitting recovering outside a Walgreens may not seem like a nice way to recover but they take Apple Pay and sell Starbucks Moccachino’s so that where I ended up. Shame on Dunkin Donuts and CVS who don’t accept it. 

Any way, I got out fairly early today while the temps were in the high sixties and hit the trails. I started in Collegeville, PA and ran towards Betzwood. 

Most of the trail is shaded by trees and it is a well used section. There are three water fountains and my running club also hosts water stops on Saturdays along this route, so it was perfect for a day that promises to keep getting hotter. 

Today I was helping things out. 

I cleared many large branches from the trail for the bike riders. 

I helped a frog get across the wide trail without getting stomped or riden over. 

I gave directions to two sets of cyclists that had become lost. 

I waved at llamas (and I think one waved back; very weird). Chased bunnies and squirrels. And scared a few chipmunks. 

I ran on the Perkiomen trail, the Schuylkill River trail, the Betzwood trail, the Audubon Loop, and managed to run through the grounds of my company. 

By the end of my run it was 80+F and I was completely burnt out but I’m starting to feel better now I’ve been sitting writing this for a while. 

My music today was an 80s throwback session. The whole of Frankie Goes To Hollywood’s Welcome to the Pleasure Dome album, then two albums of It Bites. All of it very enjoyable for a long run. Apple watch makes it very easy to choose more music while you are out on the trail. 🙂 

My phone says I averaged an 8:17 pace but I don’t think it paused properly when I stopped for water or to give people directions, so I may have been slightly faster. That’s not too shabby for the distance. 

Time to get myself together and get on with the weekend. 

New Start Point

To celebrate the bank holiday here in the U.S. I thought I’d try starting from a different place on my run. 

Hunsberger Woods are on the outskirts of Collegeville, PA and near Ursinus College. They were given over to the public in 1994 and is a lovely starting point for running the Perkiomen Trail. 

A gentle downhill into some meadow lands start off the run, with a little stream crossing and an odd little outhouse building. The paved trail quickly gives way to a mown grass pathway that leads around the other meadows. Eventually it will drop you out on rt. 29 right near an entry point to the Perkiomen Trail. 

The temps were in the high 60s and with a little humidity from recent rains, but it was perfect weather run a run. 

Through the miracles of modern tech I can post a running selfie set-off by my apple watch.  

What a lovely day! 

Have a nice holiday if you are celebrating Independence Day. I shall be riding in Philly with my Union Jack cycle shirt on; that’s asking for trouble on parade day. 🙂

A Number of False Starts and Stops

I have been technology challenged today. After forgetting to start mapmyrun for my ride to work today, I had to manually enter it once I got to the office… then I went for a walk at lunchtime and thought I’d use the Apple Watch exercise tracker for a change… I opened it up and found I hadn’t saved my last walk. I went to save it and hit the wrong button… boom. Lost it. Damn.

This evening I was going to do a quick run in preparation for the 5k on Thursday. The temps are higher in the evening and I need to adjust to be able to run full out. I started mapmyrun on my watch and then did a quick 2.5 mile run @ 7m 15sec pace. Nice… then I went to save it and my sweaty fingers hit the discard button. Bah! I lost more data.

Then it was time to ride home, I setup my iPhone before I went down to my bike… then forgot to start the damn app when I got on my bike. More lost exercise data.

Sometimes I think my brain isn’t wired quite the right way.

In other news, Apple announced lots of exciting updates at the WWDC event for the Apple Watch that are coming in watchOS 2 soon. This will allow the 3rd party apps to access the heart rate monitor and other techs that are built into the watch. This is good news… assuming I remember to start the apps!