There was an Adidas booth at the runner’s expo for the Gate River Run last weekend. In the booth, they were demonstrating their new tech: miCoach. The gist of this collection of devices is this: via a foot pod and heartrate monitor, the central device sits between your MP3 player and earphones and tells you if you’re working at your target intensity. You can still hear your music and use your own MP3 player, but you’ve got a coach with a mute button. The workouts can be programmed in detail: mix any number of minutes at a number of intensity ranges (easy blue to maximum-effort red).
I’ve been on the fence about migrating from my Nike+ to something with a bit more functionality. I love my Nike+ and consider myself one of its original fanboys, but … the fact is that Nike pioneered the tech, then left it to founder. They upgraded the website and made an iPhone app, but the iPod app is essentially the same original version. There’s still no real workout management tool beyond “create a run of a given distance or time”. As I start to get more technical in my runs, adjusting speed and intensity, the Nike+ is beginning to show its cracks.
Not that everything about the miCoach is better than the Nike+. The revamped Nike+ website, for example, has a few more social features—challenges, etc. It’s not exactly DailyMile, but it’s not horrible. The miCoach site isn’t much more than a data sink and management tool. Adidas says that social aspects will be forthcoming, but we’ll see.
I looked into a Garmin ForeRunner, as the Virtual Partner tech is very sexy: a little digital avatar telling me if I’m on pace, above, or below. It’s similar to what the miCoach does, and I imagine the two sets of features will continue to converge. That the new ForeRunners also have heartrate monitors is another great selling point.
But then there’s the cost. We’re talking $400, easy. Not exactly an impulse buy.
So we’re back to my original point: the Adidas miCoach. This is the Baby Bear in this Goldilocks story. It’s got a decent price point at $140, all in. It’s engineered to work with your existing MP3 player. It doesn’t have GPS. Instead of a Virtual Partner, it’s got a voice in your ear telling you to speed up or slow down. And, of course, you’ll look like a gargoyle: heartrate monitor, foot pod, miCoach, iPod with controller watch, and earphones.
But I am nothing if not a data junkie. Hopefully, I’ll be able to crack open and mine the data from the miCoach as easily as I can the Nike+.
So I bought one. It arrives tomorrow night. We’ll see how it goes.
Update: Holy tiny technology, Batman! Here’s a picture of the miCoach pacer and iPod nano in the palm of my hand. It’s much smaller than I had thought it would be.