“Are we running today?”
My wrist buzzes and the screen on my Apple Nike+ Watch lights up, tempting me to lace up my sneaks and hit the pavement.
Here’s the truth: I’m not good with wearable tech devices. I forget to charge them, find them obnoxious, or just stop using them after a while. As an active person with a smartphone, I figure that everything I need is already in my pocket—anything more is superfluous.
Except when I’m running. When I finally went all in and bought my high-tech Garmin GPS watch on Black Friday last year, it was after months of careful research and review. As a marathoner who had just started ultra running, it was necessary to have a device that could track my pacing and mileage during training. Plus, my Garmin came with a chest strap heart rate monitor—the most accurate way to measure an athlete’s energy expenditure and effort during a workout, and an important accessory to track training and recovery.
I wore my Garmin for every run, but I have to admit that I probably don’t take full advantage of the device. Although I have plugged some of my workouts into it—a helpful tool for speed workouts outside—I usually just use it to check how fast and far I’ve run.
So when the new Apple Nike+ watch hit the market, I was intrigued. After all, before I shelled out the big bucks for my Garmin, I used the Nike Running app (the same technology in the Apple Watch) to track my runs and totally loved it. Older iterations of the Apple Watch didn’t accurately track speed or exertion—fine for the casual runner, but not ideal for someone training. And on the old watch, there was only enough storage for a few short playlists, so if you used music as motivation you were out of luck.
By some act of God, I got my hands on the new Apple Nike+ watch—and although it was sleek, sexy, and very cool, I wasn’t exactly hooked after wearing it for a weekend.
And then Monday rolled around.
It started like any normal Monday, with a five mile run before work. I grabbed my wireless headphones, set my watch for an open run, and took off. My iPhone in my back pocket, and activating the Run app on the watch cued my playlist to start. As the music pulsed through my earbuds, my speed increased—and so did my heart rate, the screen showed me.
Incoming emails and texts also glided into the screen, but they were easy to dismiss. Nothing important—or important enough to stop my run short to check my phone. I could get them later.
I finished up my morning workout by hitting “end” on the watch, and a screen with my stats flashed in front of me. It also instantly uploaded to my phone, so I opened up the Nike Running app to check out my mile splits in greater detail. Yes, I was impressed—but the game-changing moment didn’t happen until later in my day.
I don’t know about you, but as soon as I get to my work desk I get a bit hypnotized: Emails, calls, reading, writing, and editing stories. Often the only reason I get up from my seat is to go to the bathroom or to take a quick walk around the block to grab lunch. It’s terrible, I know, but that’s what happens when I get in the zone.
*Bzzz* Time to stand!
After a few hours at work, my watch reminds me to pick my butt up and move around. Helpful, but not completely groundbreaking.
Then I catch a glance of a story about fake news sites on Facebook, and feel myself getting angry. My watch buzzed again, and I was annoyed. Who is texting me right now!? But it’s not my BF asking me what I want for dinner—it’s a message from the Breathe app, suggesting I take a one-minute break to breathe. I’m not sure if it could tell that my heart rate was skyrocketing, or if it was just good timing, but the reminder is exactly what I need. One minute and a mini meditation sesh later, and I felt way better.
The three-bill price tag is a little staggering, but if you’re an active person and want to disconnect from your phone I think it’s worth it. I’ve particularly liked seeing how my activity throughout the day undulates—sometimes my watch tells me that I’ve walked seven miles in a day, and other days it looks like I’ve barely made it off the couch. As a city-dweller who spends a lot of time in the car commuting, that tool is really beneficial.
I also like seeing my emails, calls, texts, and other notifications come in. Usually, it’s clear that I can finish what I’m doing and respond to it later. That strange anxiety that creeps up on you when you’re in the middle of a meeting, meal, or movie and can’t check your phone kind of dissipates—and for me, that works.
And as an athlete, I’ve really enjoyed using the watch. The workout app has been clutch—I’ve tracked my progress at three different workout studios in LA and it was seriously surprising!—and I’m a fan of the running app. When I start training for my 50-mile race in the mountains, I’ll probably switch back to my Garmin because it measures elevation. But until then, I’ll stick to my Apple Nike+ watch.