updated 11/24/2006 10:11:53 PM ET 2006-11-25T03:11:53

Nike + iPod Sport Kit & Air Zoom Plus running shoes      

As a dedicated but not very competitive runner, I was positively floored by how quickly the Nike + iPod combo improved my run. A wireless sensor pod slips into a cutout beneath the footbed of Nike+ running shoes, while a tiny receiver plugs into your iPod nano (the only model currently supported).

Walk around to wake up the receiver, choose your run — distance, time, calories — and take off. The device reports in a male or female voice how you’re doing at regular intervals, or a tap of the center button gives a live report, relaying distance covered and pace.

When you’re done with your run, you plug into your computer and sync with iTunes, then log on to nikeplus.com to see the stats of your current and prior run. Set a goal — such as 40 miles in four weeks — and the site shows where you are in attaining the goal. It was a total thrill when, after a long run, Lance Armstrong’s voice congratulated me for reaching my longest run since I began using the device.

Though the sensor is meant for Nike+ shoes, you can get creative with some Velcro strips and attach it between the laces of any running shoes. The only bummer: The sensor’s built-in battery, which Nike estimates can last approximately a year or 1,000 miles, cannot be replaced, which means plunking down another thirty bucks when it dies. Still, it’s a small price to pay for the personal performance boosts I’ve achieved in just two weeks of use.

— Joe Hutsko


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