Friday, May 27, 2011

Nike+SportsWatch GPS Firmware Update: Average Pace!, Improved Instant Pace and Shoe Sensor Calibration

When I updated my Nike+SportsWatch GPS last week I received the following details for a firmware update:

Firmware Update 1.0.11

This update is required for all users of the Nike+ SportWatch GPS and includes the following:

• Adds average pace metric

• Improves instantaneous pace calculation when running with GPS and the Nike+ shoe sensor

• Improves auto-calibration of the Nike+ shoe sensor

• Fixes reset issue when charging with certain USB chargers

• Exits the lap summary screen when a button is pressed

• Fixes issue with calorie display during long workouts

• Additional minor bug fixes

Source: Nike+Connect Firmware Update "Details" when SportsWatch was connected.  

Update 5/30: I have now taken 5 runs with average pace and it seems to work just fine. This essential element makes the NIke+SportsWatch a far more complete running tool. 

Update 6/2: Ran with shoe sensor alone, GPS turned off,  after 5 runs and about 30 miles of shoe sensor and GPS which is how the sensor is supposed to get calibrated. Excellent results 5.93 miles exactly the same as measured by GPS. Previous to the firmware update the shoe sensor got dramatically inaccurate over time from factory default settings. In addition to indoors using the shoe sensor alone should be more accurate on  winding trails and where buildings and mountains can block the GPS signal. Will next test on single track trails.

Instantaneous pace appears far less erratic although I rarely use this metric. 

I am still seeing inconsistencies in GPS track ( takes a 1/4 mile or so to lock on to exact path/road) and heart rate (first 5-10 minutes have all kinds of spikes).

Nice update Nike! 

Now if stats on the smaller upper line could scroll... or one could pick both the smaller upper metric and the lower larger one on auto lap.  I find I am constantly pressing the button to see distance, heart rate and pace when on auto lap as the larger bottom area remains dedicated to the current lap time

Wednesday, May 04, 2011

The only Peregrines on the trail today were the Saucony kind but I did see 2 great blue herons, 5 beaver dams, a huge goose, 1 runner, and 2 walkers

Took a drive over the Newmarket NH to run the  Sweet Trail, a new out and back trail of about 8.5 miles. Named after donors it is Sweet indeed.

Through magnificent forests lined with old stone walls.

 By at least 6 glacial and beaver created ponds

and over ancient stone bridges

I saw 2 giant blue herons take flight, a very noisy goose, heard lots of other birds, and saw only a few other people the whole time. The beaver dams were impressive and well built.

The Sweet Trail crosses 2 towns, Newmarket and Durham, and is entirely on conservation and NH Fish and Game lands. Mellow single track on pine needles with some roots and rocks of course. This is New England after all!

 In the 1970's Aristotle Onassis the oil tycoon, proposed building one of the world's largest oil refineries on this land by Great Bay.  A plaque deep in woods marks where the center of the refinery complex would have been. This spot would have been in the middle of some huge tanks. Well, the locals stopped him dead in his tracks and since then various organizations have preserved this land.

This would have been the center of a $600 million oil refinery

Oh yes the shoes, almost forgot them: Saucony Pro Grid Peregrines. I have previously reviewed them in depth here.  This was my first run on New England trails in them and they performed just fine. Good grip on all but slick wet rock. Climb well. Plenty of rock stab protection for this type of trail. 

I used my Nike+SportsWatch in the woods and under tree cover for the first time. I have posted several times about the Nike+SportsWatch  here and here and with the exception of not showing average run pace I have been very impressed with its ease of use and flexibility.  I was planning on clocking the out leg and comparing distance to the return but got off on a side trail I could not resist.
Start the Sweet Trail off Bay Road in Newmarket about 1 mile from center of town.
With the exception of a short segment on the return where the tracks don't overlap exactly the GPS seemed to handle tree cover and lots of turns just fine.

Sunday, May 01, 2011

Review: Nimble Saucony ProGrid Peregrine Trail Runner is also a Mighty Fine Road Runner

I have had 2 pairs of the Saucony ProGrid Kinvara and have liked their low (4mm) heel to toe drop and light weight. My only complaints has been that the combination of light soft, foam and minimal upper makes the Kinvara somewhat mushy and sloppy for me.
Saucony Peregrine

 I saw the Saucony ProGrid Peregrine at Outdoor Retailer this winter. Saucony offered to send me a review pair.  I sensed that while a trail runner the Peregrine might solve some some of the minor issues I had with the Kinvara, on the road, while also being a lightweight responsive trail runner in the mold of the Inov-8 295 and 305's.  I am always looking for that elusive shoe that performs equally well on trail and roads. Could the Peregrine be a shoe for all terrains?

After approximately 40 miles of hard pack gravel trails, muddy Utah single track and  a good deal of pavement  I am very impressed with the Peregrine. It is indeed a close cousin of the Kinvara. It shares the same 4mm drop, and  roomy, non restrictive toe box.
Roomy Non Restrictive Toe Boxes
Peregrine (left)                     Kinvara (right) 

Differences between Peregrine and Kinvara:

  • Peregrine has a more traditional upper with a welded on overlay of ovals to reinforce the upper. It also has a  secondary fabric over the instep (see below). The Kinvara's only has light welded instep reinforcements under the upper. Peregrine while not a stability shoe has a very small piece of hard plastic down near the outer sole on both sides of the arch. The Kinvara has none. 
  • Peregrine has a real heel counter vs. a mininal heel counter on Kinvara 
  • a deeply lugged sole for Peregrine vs. a blown rubber midsole with reinforcement patches for Kinvara. While I have not had sole durability issues with my Kinvara,  I retired them when the upper got sloppy  the Peregrine clearly has a more durable outer sole.
    Kinvara (left)        Peregrine (right)
  • The outer sole on the Peregrine is narrower in the heel and mid foot and about the same in the forefoot.
  • When the more reinforced and traditional upper is combined with firmer heel counter, narrower overall footprint and lugged sole the Peregrine feels more responsive and supportive, especially on the road. And few would want to take the Kinvara on a trail, the Peregrine's true home!
  • The Peregrine is heavier at 9.7 oz vs. 7.7 oz for Kinvara.  Not much heavier in my view based on what you get for those 2 oz. 
  • The total stack height for Peregrine is 24mm heel/ 20 mm forefoot vs. 21mm/17mm for the Kinvara
* Weight and stack height from Running Warehouse.

On the Trail:
I ran some muddy, non technical single track in Park City's Round Valley last week.
Round Valley, Park City UT looking towards Park City Mountain and Deer Valley
Western mud can be very sticky due to the clay and most shoes end up with a block of mud which one has to scrape off on rocks. Peregrine evacuated the mud very nicely indeed. I was pleasantly surprised.

While the trails I ran weren't particularly rocky, I felt sure footed and didn't feel any "rock stabs" through the sole.  Peregrine is a great Western trails shoe. A test of rocky, rooty New England trails will follow this week.

On the Road:
The Peregrines are proving to be an excellent road shoe. A bit slappy due to the lugged sole they are very responsive and well cushioned. The combination of more substantial upper, the lugged sole, and thus higher overall height, give a great ride on pavement. A touch firmer than Kinvara, likely due to the narrower heel and firmer outsole material, they have a great road feel and sense of directed forward motion.

Under 10 oz. trail runner which can handily double as a very capable road runner. Not sure yet if it is better road or trail runner as it handles both well. So far no compromises on either trail or road with a single shoe. Low drop at 4mm for more a natural mid foot running form. Roomy toe box. Deeply lugged, durable sole has great trail grip.

None so far. Have not tested on technical rocky rooty single track as of yet.