DC Does it Right

Wow. Just wow.
I expect this will take several posts, I’ll do a full race recap sometime tomorrow time willing. I just want to leave you with some overall first impressions, and then I’ll get down to the details.

First, I should point out that I haven’t been to Washington, DC in a long time. It might as well been never since I didn’t remember anything about the city that I couldn’t recall from pictures. It’s been that long.
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I headed to DC this past weekend for the Inaugural Nike Women’s Half Marathon. Yes, Nike is celebrating the 10th anniversary of the half and full in San Francisco this year. I’m usually nervous to attend the first year if any event, and try to keep in mind that there’s a good chance for some snafus.

Nope.
Nothing life-altering anyway.

DC is a great place for a race. With a city so spread out, it’s easy to find 13.1 picturesque miles to run. I’m fairly certain that, if they do add the full in the coming years, they won’t have much trouble doubling those views.

But there are other aspects of DC that make it appealing.

Inexpensive public transportation. Once you get the hang of it, the metro is pretty easy to maneuver. And all the employees we met were friendly and helpful. You can take a cab, but you don’t need to. And don’t drive. It’s not worth it.

Lots of green. Parks and more parks. For a city, DC has a lot of green spaces. And they’re clean.
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Free activities. You don’t have to pay a lot to see the sights. Several museums were free, and you can find tours of the older, less popular buildings that don’t charge. My favorite tour of the city was done on foot…our impromptu shakeout run covered 4.5 miles of the National Mall, complete with stops for photos…and a workout? Sold. At no charge of course.
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Sure. You can pay plenty during a weekend in the nation’s capital. Shoot…the food alone can bankrupt you. But you don’t HAVE to spend money to have a good time.

Enough about the city…race report coming up!

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Motivation: Nike+ FuelBand Review

It’s amazing what a little motivation can do. You’ve been on a streak for the last 44 days…you can’t quit now! Must. Keep. Moving.

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When I first saw the Nike+ FuelBand on the wrist of a colleague, I thought it looked cool.

Actually, I barely noticed he was wearing anything other than what I thought was one of those silicone “cause” bracelets.

And then he pressed the almost imperceptible button, and it came to life.

I’ve worn a pedometer for years. I like to know how active I am during the day, especially when I’m not specifically “exercising.” My reasoning was this…I needed to know why on some days I was exceedingly lazy tired by 5pm, and the next day I’d be up all night.

So I tracked. And tracked. And tracked.

The results were pretty telling. Those days when I was “too tired to work out?” I was more active doing normal everyday tasks during the morning. But I wasn’t always walking, so the data from the standard pedometer often didn’t match up.

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Enter the Nike+ FuelBand. 

First, I must say, this is not a replacement for a GPS watch or a HeartRate Monitor.

Because it doesn’t do either.

It estimates steps based on arm swing.

Arm swing? What good does that do?

Well for walking, not a whole lot more than a standard pedometer. But if you stand in one place and move your arms, the standard version won’t register any movement. That’s where the FuelBand takes over. Movement by the arm wearing the Band will be recorded, and translated into NikeFuel (an arbitrary number “invented” by Nike that corresponds to activity/motion).

The device also estimates calories burned based on the height/weight you enter, and a rough estimation of how far you travel based on steps.

But these features are not the best part of the device. The secret is all in the motivation.

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The FuelBand syncs up to your Nike+ account, similar to the GPS watch. You have the option of plugging the device in your PC/Mac’s USB port, or you can sync wirelessly via Bluetooth through the App (currently available on the App Store and Google play)

Basically you set a goal each day, and aim to hit it. After 3 consecutive days of hitting your goal, you’re on a streak. And it continues until you don’t. Then you start again.

It tracks when during the day you move the most. You can also see your best days, weeks, and months.

So great. Does it work?

My experience with the FuelBand has been great. It’s super light, and after an hour I barely noticed I was wearing it.

Like anything else, there is a learning curve. Forgetting to charge your FuelBand, or in my case, leaving it on the bathroom counter after a shower, will certainly derail your streak…without some make-up work anyway.

There is nothing more disappointing than getting back from a great run, attempting to sync your FuelBand, only to find out you didn’t wear it, or that the battery is dead. Luckily, the device lasts roughly 3-4 days of “average wear.”

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And as far as the motivation goes…it has plenty.

Many nights I’ve looked at my FuelBand only to find I have 300-500 Fuel to hit my goal, and that has prompted a run, cycle, or strength workout. Realize because it only works with arm movement, you’ll have to attach the band to your shoe or ankle for cycling. And since it’s calibrated for running/walking, the data won’t be even close for cycling. But that doesn’t mean it won’t register Fuel. Just track your distance another way.

I had to request a replacement band after a month of use. It still worked, but it had battery issue which necessitated charging every night! I was disappointed, until I spoke with a rep from Nike.

Best customer service ever!

They sent me a new one, and when I received it sent my defective one back, minus charging cradle (they don’t require you send back accessories). No days missed…streak continued!

So check it out. Or ask me more questions.

What tools motivate you?

*I received no compensation for the above review. All material and opinions are my own.

Tomorrow’s News: Anticipation