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Tech Trends: A Deeper Dive Into The Nike+ Running App

The free app provides an abundance of features for runners to track their mileage and stay motivated.

In a previous edition of Tech Trends, we introduced three of our favorite GPS running apps. Over the next few columns, we’ll go into more depth about what makes each of them worth considering on your next run. Up this week: the Nike+ Running app.

Nike, the world’s largest suppliers of athletic shoes and apparel, are concentrating their digital efforts on apps and software. Instead of continuing to sell the Nike+ GPS running watch and FuelBand fitness tracker, Nike has chosen to refine their app offerings for smartphones and smartwatches (and no worries non-Nike shoe wearers—you can where whatever brand of shoes you want on your feet to take advantage of the app’s features).

An Abundance of Free Features on Nike+

While Nike+ Running lacks a few of the options found with Strava and Runkeeper, the app comes with a very useful set of features for no cost. Plus, there is no “premium” version of the app so you’ll never receive annoying prompts asking you to upgrade to a paid version.

Along with the ability to record the time, distance and map of your run, the Nike+ Running app has coaching, challenge, social features and device/third-party integrations.

For the coaching component, Nike+ Running includes general training plans from 5K to marathon for beginning to advanced level runners. Though not customized, the plans are very detailed and vary in length from 8 weeks to 24 weeks depending on the goal race.

The app also has a couple of ways to make your running a bit more social. In the Friends tab, a running leaderboard ranks your monthly mileage versus your Nike+ Running friends. In Challenges, you can set a mileage total and invite your friends to fight over who can get to that mileage goal first.

Nike+ Running also features a couple of nice device and technical integrations. If you have the Apple Watch, you can keep your iPhone in your pocket and have information from the run relayed to your wrist. Nike+ Running also pulls fitness data from Garmin Connect, TomTom and Wahoo to put all of that information in one place.

RELATED: Which GPS Running App Is Right For You?

Better Feedback on the Run

While this may sound like a small detail, the ability to adjust the orientation of the screen from portrait to landscape mode in the Nike+ Running app is very useful. Reading your phone’s screen while it’s strapped to your arm at any pace is difficult, but when running data is displayed in landscape mode it’s easier to see. Along with improved orientation, the app’s text is provided in a large, readable font.

For those who run with Bluetooth earbuds, or if you simply don’t want to look down at your arms during a run, the app provides audio feedback about total time, distance and pace. This information can be set up to provide information at a variety of distance and time intervals: 0.25, 0.5, 1, 2 miles/kilometers or 1, 5, 10 and 15 minutes.

A Small Price to Pay for Motivation

While Nike+ Running features are free, my favorite one requires a paid Spotify Premium account ($9.99/month). Runners with Spotify Premium can link up with the Nike+ Running app to generate a personalized mix of songs called a Pace Station. After selecting a target pace and the artist or genre of music, a custom station is created. After selecting 8:15/mile and the Rock genre, I spent a 3-mile run listening to a mix of KISS, Led Zeppelin and Robert Plant.

After setup, creating a new or selecting previous Power Stations is very simple. I’ve played around with some other paces, music genres and find the selection of songs to be very upbeat and motivating. Those with a Premium Spotify account will greatly appreciate this feature.

RELATED: An Introduction To Strava