The Nike Fuelband and Nike+ Running apps have become instantly-recognisable fitness tools, but they're nothing without the software that drives them. With more precision and features than ever before, Nike+ has been transformed into a comprehensive coach for the everyday runner, while letting you keep track of all your other daily vital stats along the way.
However, while upping the stats we can see from our runs is a good thing, it's easy to get lost in all the noise of fitness data. To make it a little easier Nike uses its own system known as NikeFuel, its own currency for activity. Much more than just magic beans, NikeFuel points are the diesel in your Nike+ engine, powering you through the day while helping you to maintain a consistency to your workouts that's easy to understand.
While it might lack some of the more detailed running dynamics you'll get from Garmin Connect or Polar Flow, used correctly, Nike+ software can be a great partner for anyone who wants to train for an upcoming race, or just wants to get generally fitter overall. So here are ten simple things you can do to get the most out of Nike+.
Find a coach that works for you
The Nike+ Running app lets you set up customised training programmes to help you reach your target, whether it's smashing a 5K or stepping up for a marathon. Once you've selected the distance you want to go, you can choose the intensity of your several-week-long program from beginner, intermediate or advanced training levels.
Each level will show you the exact distances you'll be running week by week, so it's important to find the one that's right for you before diving into the program.
Start challenging yourself
Outside of your Coach you've also got Nike+ Challenges, which let you compete for bragging rights with your friends. Think of them like bite-sized accomplishments. Creating challenges is easy: set the distance, the duration, and who you want as your competition. Alternatively you can join someone else's challenge. But whatever you decide to do, make sure you're using challenges to push yourself that extra mile.
Nike+ Challenges can also be an effective way of maintaining continual goals that stretch over the course of a year, even when you're not training for a specific event.
Use the heat map
A nifty feature of the Nike+ app is that it tracks how fast you're running at different parts of a course and marks this data on a GPS map. Your fastest lengths are represented with green, moderate with yellow, and your slowest with red. This is hugely helpful data that will help you set a better pace throughout your run, highlighting areas where you need an extra push, and others where you can perhaps turn the dial down a tad.
Keeping a record of your routes and your route performance will be a big boost in improving your game.
Use the Fuelband app for fitness wins
The Nike+ Running app takes care of your more focused exercise plan, but what happens when you're not out pounding the pavements? If you have a Nike Fuelband then you can start keeping track of your minor fitness wins, aided by the accompanying Fuelband app. Want to know how many Fuel points you burned during today's yoga session? This will tell you.
Heck, it'll even inform you how much NikeFuel you earned from grinding your morning coffee.
Keep the data flowing
If you're using a Nike FuelBand, make sure that you're regularly syncing that data with your Nike+ account. A good training programme is also about the activity in between the runs, so it's a good idea to keep an eye on how active you're being throughout the day.
Using the app you can push up your daily activity goal by 10 or 20%, depending on how confident you're feeling, and your new target will begin the next day.
Find the right routes
It's not always easy to find decent running routes, especially when you live in a city, but Nike has a useful tool for finding good and popular routes in your area. This can be accessed through the web-based Nike+ platform, and for each route will give you the distance, the estimated time, and the number of other runners who use it.
This is particularly handy when you're in training and want to make sure you're going to be hitting the right amount of Ks with no interruptions.
Keep an eye on the competition
The Challenge function is great for earning those one-off wins, but there's nothing like a bit of healthy ongoing competition to spur you on. You'll be surprised how much difference it can make when you start adding friends on Nike+, and doing so will give you a peek at how they're doing for this month so you know exactly how much better you have to do.
And if they haven't got Nike+, invite them to try it - you'll probably thank each other for it later.
Make sure the numbers are always right
Once you've logged a run you have the option of adding several bits of additional information. First, you'll be prompted to tell Nike how you're feeling after your workout, be it exhausted or surprisingly energised. Then, by tapping the icon in the top right of the screen you can edit information about your run, including distance, duration and pace.
If you fudge the numbers then you're only cheating yourself, but if, for example, the GPS in your area is a little patchy, you can manually enter the correct distance. Finally, if you're running with Nike shoes then Nike+ allows you to tag your trainers so you can keep a record of their mileage - and so you know when it's time to hang them up. You should also make sure your personal profile is filled out as accurately as possible.
The Nike+ Running app lets you add notes to your recorded runs, and it's never a bad idea to do so. Yes, you can pick a smiley face that best represents your post-run mood, but adding your own notes gives you much better picture of your progress so that, over time, you can discover what sort of workout is most effective for you.
Keep an eye on the big picture
Getting a good time on that 5K is great but you need to always be looking at the bigger picture. The Nike+ software makes it easy to see your progress over weeks and months, rather than just hours and days.
You can even select the Year view to see which months you achieved the most miles in, as well as seeing your average pace, calories burned, and Fuel points earned.
Master your running tech
Check out these other guides to taking full advantage of your running wearables:
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