Get in shape for ski season with the Nike+ Sportwatch GPS

Comments by Damian Quigley/

Will ski season ever get here? You can’t wait to go skiing and it almost seems that the closer it gets, the farther away it feels. When it does get here, being in good physical shape will elevate your skiing and help prevent unwanted injuries. If you haven’t started preparing, now is the time and what better way to do it than with a new gadget?

Whether you love to run or are just doing it to burn time until the snow flies, the Nike+ Sportwatch makes things considerably more interesting and once the ski season gets here, you can continue to use the GPS-enabled watch to track your activity on the snow. The watch itself is quite simplistic and tracks every metric you can think of, spitting them back at you in an easily digestible and visually pleasing way. Three buttons on the side of a large LCD display allow you to navigate through menus that hold a lot of information without confusing the crap out of you. Sort of like when the first iPod came out and people were like, “What do you mean there’s only one button and this wheel thing?” It just works. The watch is water-resistant and holds the history of up to fifty runs along with personal bests, a built-in stopwatch and a digital clock with numbers so big your grandmother might think it’s overkill.

Before you take it for a spin, you’ll want to download the Nike+ Connect software and sign up for a free Nike+ account. Once downloaded, the Nike+ Connect interface will launch every time you plug your watch in via the USB connection found underneath a hinged piece on the end of the wristband. While the design feels a little bit clumsy sometimes, it’s handy to be able to plug the watch directly into your laptop to upload info while charging it at the same time. A USB cord is also included in case your port is a little out of the way. Nike+ Connect allows you to customize the two display fields on the screen that will show any of the eight available stats—Distance, Time Elapsed, Manual Laps, Speed, Avg. Speed, Pace, Calories, Clock—you want to see as you’re on the go. You can also enter personal information to get accurate calorie counts and set lap/interval options.

While you’re out and about, the watch uses TomTom GPS to track your location and map your route. You can check out your selected stats on the go and use the scroll buttons on the side to cycle through the rest. Use this info to make adjustments on the fly or just let the watch record it all and check it out when you’re done. There’s an optional sensor you can buy that goes in your shoe to track indoor running or for more accurate results outside, but the watch itself is pretty accurate.

When you finish your workout, the watch will usually tell you that you did a great job or give you some other sort of “attaboy.” This is similar to the Nike+ app that uses recorded praise from world class athletes to tell you that you that you crushed it. That said, I don’t really need Tim Tebow telling me that I did a super job. Tim Tebow doesn’t know me and if he did, he’d probably tell me my workout was weak sauce. Cynicism aside, positive encouragement is good on any level.

Now that you know you’re a badass, plug your watch in to see just what that adds up to. The Nike+ software will automatically upload your activity and you can log on to nikeplus.nike.com to review pretty much everything you can think off. The info from your latest workout, as well as your workout history, is displayed through a well-designed interface that is navigated with ease. All of your personal bests, distances, paces, maps, elevations etc. are there and you have the option to enter any additional information or notes that you’d like to keep track of.

If you’ve been skiing with the watch on, the TomTom GPS will enable you to look at a satellite image at the end of the day with your routes and elevation gains displayed cleanly. This is a lot more effective than guessing how or what you did and can be a fun way to set goals for yourself in the backcountry.

Additional features on the watch include a tapping feature on the screen that will engage a backlight or let you mark off lap/run times while you’re out there and reminders that can be set in case you forget to run or are just feeling unmotivated. These reminders could come in handy if you wear the watch full-time but despite it being better looking than some of the competition, the watch may not jive with your everyday style.

Suffice to say that the Nike+ Sportwatch is a great tool for skiers and runners alike. Serious athletes will appreciate the ability to monitor all of their stats and people who need a little motivation or just appreciate the novelty of seeing their achievements on screen will appreciate the ease of use. To find out just how much you can really do, head on over to Nike’s website where you can pick one up and get started.

Pros:

Easy to use, great training tool.

Cons:

Screen tapping is finicky and sometimes doesn’t work as well as it should, data isn’t exportable for use outside of Nike+.

Price: $149 or $169 with shoe sensor.

Website: nikeplus.nike.com/plus/products/sport_watch/