My Running Gear

Nike vs. Garmin


I’ve owned a Nike+ kit for about 8 months and I recently received a Garmin Forerunner 305 too from my wife as a “gift” but I actually ordered it myself online and paid for it with my credit card, so I’ll merely be charging her for that when the bill comes.  The Bull Runner also wrote a comparison on the accuracy of the Nike vs. Garmin some time ago but was based on an uncalibrated Nike sensor and on one 18-20km run.


One of the things I like about running is being able to measure all sorts of data when I run like speed, distance, heart rate, etc.  Here I compare my experience running with both gadgets for about 2 weeks.



I researched on the internet and found that the biggest complaint against the Nike+ is on accuracy.  Nike+ had a tendency to overstate distance but the user could calibrate the sensor against a known distance.


I previously observed that the Nike+ seemed pretty accurate as long as I ran at a pace similar or equal to my calibration pace.  If I ran slower than that, it tended to overstate my distance but if I ran faster, it actually understated my distance.


I used both Nike and GF305 over a 2 week period and here’s the data:

Garmin vs. Nike+ measured distances

Garmin vs. Nike+ measured distances


Notice that in Run 1 and 6, Nike+ actually understated the distance compared to the GF305 since I ran these at tempo pace, faster than my original calibration pace.


The total discrepancy out of 63km is slightly more than 1km only, or 1.87% discrepancy.  As long as the Nike+ is calibrated at a proper distance and pace, meaning at an average pace that will approximate the pace of most of your runs, it should give accurate enough readings for most recreational runners.



If you already own any of the 3 generations of the Ipod Nano, the Nike+ kit and shoe pouch should cost about 1/6 of the GF305.  However, if you were to purchase an Ipod just for this purpose, you’ll be shelling out less money for the GF305.  Note that the $208 you pay for the GF305 already includes a heart rate monitor, prices of which start at $100 upwards for Polar HRMs.



Nike+ Ipod

One of the factors that kept me motivate to sustain my running effort is the web-based training log on It’s actually more than just a log of your runs since it allows you to interact with other Nike+ users through “challenges” of various natures – i.e. the most number of miles or the fastest run in a certain period.  You get to monitor your progress in a leaderboard and you see your ranking against other challengers, and you get to win a virtual trophy if you top your particular challenge.  Other features of the website allow you to view data on your runs either individually, or in weekly or monthly summaries.  You also get to compare your total distance logged against other users through another leaderboard where you can slice and dice the data by region, age group, gender, or time frame.



Summary of my Nike+ runs

Summary of my Nike+ runs

On the Ipod itself, famous athletes like Lance Armstrong and Paula Radcliffe congratulate you at the end of a record-breaking run, when you run either a personal record for the selected workout or for farthest distances run.  It may seem shallow for some but that feature has kept me motivated to keep trying for personal bests!


Garmin Forerunner 305

I haven’t explored the GF as much but one of the coolest feature I’ve found is the ability to export my running data to the website Motion Based and analyze my run from there.

My Garmin data uploaded to Motion Based

My Garmin data uploaded to Motion Based

Aside from having all the data that Nike+ can provide, the GF305 comes with a heart rate monitor and the GPS data means you can trace your route on a satellite map via Motion Based web-based software that allows you to analyze your run to the point of analysis paralysis. A really cool feature is Player that will playback every instantaneous detail of your run including speed, pace, distance, heart rate, elevation, all while tracing your route on a satellite picture! A variation is to view your route on Google Earth and Google Earth’s built-in player can also playback your route by simulating a fly-through of the route as if you were on an a low-flying aircraft, minus the instantaneous data display.  Another useful feature is laps, which breaks down performance data on a per lap basis.



If you’re into other sports like cycling, the GF305 has a cycling mode as well.  There is also an optional cadence sensor you can attach to the bike to measure your leg speed.  A foot pod is also available in case you want to use the GF305 indoors on a treadmill.  Heart rate and pace alerts are customizable to ensure you hit your training targets.


Summary & Conclusion

Both the Nike+ and the GF305 have their own unique advantages and disadvantages and if you’re trying to decide between the two, you must analyze your needs and priorities before purchasing either.


The Nike+ is affordable assuming you already own an Ipod Nano, accurate enough given proper calibration, provides basic data but lacks a heart rate monitor.  The Nike+ website is a great motivating factor plus music from the Ipod is indispensable for many runners.


The GF305 is great value for money if you were to buy only one running gadget unless you’re the type who needs music to run.  The tremendous amount of data generated is a plus to athletes wanting to measure every aspect of their performance but those looking for just the basic info will find this to be an info overload. 


As for me, I’ll simply be using both Nike+ and Garmin for all my runs.


6 responses to “My Running Gear

  1. I really wanted a Garmin but cant afford that one yet. And I have read reviews about Nike+ and I am not yet convinced to get one. Chronograph na lg muna ng Timex. 😀

  2. Jinoe, it took me many months before I could get a Garmin, and I asked it as a gift pa from my wife! Maybe your fiancee would like to give you one too 🙂 At $200, it provides great value for money already.

    If you already own an Ipod, you can’t go wrong with the Nike+ kit, just make sure you calibrate your sensor. If you were to buy an Ipod pa lang, you might be better off with the GF305 since you end up shelling out almost the same amount of money.

  3. In the meantime that I don’t have a Nike+ or Garmin, I use wikimapia to trace my runs and compute my pace using the calculators available in the web.
    My friend got himself a Nike+ SportBand recently. He advised me to get the 2nd gen, if ever.

  4. x59, I also measure distances on google earth to verify distances of race courses.

    Don’t worry if you don’t have the Nike+ or Garmin, none of the elite runners use them either 🙂

  5. Where can I buy a Garmin 305 in the Philippines?

    I heard there’s a local distributor in Cubao but it’s quite expensive, more than 2x what you would pay over Every garmin owner I know ordered it from the US and had someone bring it home for them.

  6. I’ve not that long bought a pair of Nike+Zoom, and my girlfriend says if I’m good she may buy me an Ipod Nano for Christmas.

    So thanks for the advice and keep up with the running!

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