Nike Run Club Lost My Data

Nike-Run-Club-Lost-DataShortly before the release of the first Apple Watch, I was sitting on a 75% complete SubdueTheSloth iOS GPS running and biking application. The App Store market was already full of decent GPS apps, and with the release of the Apple Watch, that 75% complete was slashed to about 25%. The UI I had developed for the iPhone was built around quickly viewing statistics while cycling and wouldn’t have translated to the Apple Watch. Granted, I could have just punted and thrown a bunch of yellow numbers on the screen like some app developers, but that’s not terribly usable. Additionally, Nike Run Club and Strava both did almost everything I wanted, and carving out a profitable niche with Apple entering the fitness app market seemed daunting.

Due to the uninspiring iPhone-tethered Apple Watch 1 and 2 and my interest in triathlons, I moved over to a Garmin. Garmin’s software left a lot to be desired, but the battery life overcame just about every negative you could throw at the Garmin ecosystem. Having accumulated years of Nike+ data, I connected Garmin up to my Nike data and ran with it for a while.

Of course, Apple eventually released the Apple Watch 3. Though the battery life was borderline, the rest of the features more than made up for it. I could always use my Garmin for racing marathons, the only distance at which the Apple Watch 3 battery might not be enough for me.

So I returned to the renamed Nike Run Club app. While some of Nike’s system changes annoyed me (seriously, why kill off the web interface?), the app continued to do what I needed it to do, when I needed it, so I didn’t worry too much about the changes.

Fast forward to November 2018. I upgraded to iOS 12 and WatchOS 5, and along the way, some laggy behavior from Nike Run Club prompted me to upgrade their iPhone and Watch apps. The first time I attempted to use the apps after the upgrade, the Watch app said I needed to configure it on the iPhone, and the iPhone app forced me to login. That’s not too unusual in and of itself, but upon login, the most recent run showing in Nike Run Club was June 2018. I’ve run 2-3x per week on average from July through November so needless to say, I was concerned.

Nike seemed helpful…


…at first. If sync was the underlying issue, Nike has a lot of UI work to do on its app. I’m not your average user. I write apps. I’ve written an app with its own sync service. This is not my first rodeo on either side of the ball.


Asking me if I had logged into the wrong account was amusing since I had been a frequent user of their web application where I was typing in the email address manually. I also use different email addresses for different purposes, and fitness apps were always Gmail. Nevertheless, I gave them some other accounts just to move to the next step of support.


To my surprise, the next step of support was, “Sorry buddy, tough luck. You kept a written log, didn’t you? And all of that GPS data isn’t really useful after the fact, is it?”

The caution about manually added runs not counting for challenges cracks me up…like I give a damn about Nike’s challenges.

Needless to say, Nike Run Club and I broke off our relationship, and I’m testing the waters with other apps.

What this episode did remind me of, though, was one of the original reasons I had for developing SubdueTheSloth GPS: owning my own data. I might have to revisit my decision to discontinue development.


Apple Watch Series 3 Battery Life Update

Apple Watch Series 3Back in October 2017, I posted a quick review of the Apple Watch Series 3. The review was more hope than review as I hadn’t had a chance to put the device through its paces, and the biggest question hanging over the review was battery life.

After working on my 5K speed for a while, I finally had the opportunity and weather to go for a longer run outside. I left the house around 4:00 PM without having charged my watch since putting it on in the morning. I ran with my AirPods connected to and playing music from the watch. My phone was sitting at home in Airport Mode.

Unfortunately, I forgot to look at the battery life immediately after the 1 hour and 40 minute run as I stayed out to hike Turkey Mountain with my wife afterward. It wasn’t until about 8:30 PM that the Apple Watch informed me that its battery life was down to 10%.

To be completely candid, I am not a heavy Apple Watch user outside of running. I rarely use it for anything more than looking at the time and weather or reading incoming notifications. As I sit here writing this post, it’s 5:45 PM, and my watch shows 78% battery remaining so it was probably in the 80% range prior to my run.

On the run itself, I was using NikePlus to track both the normal running metrics and heart rate. The Apple Watch had cellular turned on, and I sent and received a few text messages during the 3 hours I was away from my phone. And like I said above, the watch was playing music through my AirPods for the duration of the run.

In my previous quick review, I said that 2 hours of battery life was the absolute minimum I needed for the Apple Watch to be a good standalone tracking device. Based on my experience yesterday, I believe 3 hours is a reasonable expectation, possibly significantly longer if you skip AirPods and music.





Apple Watch Series 3 First Look


Apple Watch Series 3

I don’t like watches.

As a child of the 70’s, I come from a generation whose parents and grandparents religiously wore watches. Watches in those days were a combination of form and function. They were both jewelry and time travel protection, rendering the wearer immune to the time jumps inherent in relying on the microwave ovens and wall clocks of the world that lacked any time server synchronization beyond the occasional reset after the janitor called Time and Temp. Unfortunately, watches had no effect on that tardy slip you got because the school clock had drifted 5 minutes fast by the start of the 2nd semester.

Anyway, where was I? Oh, yeah…I don’t like watches. To me, watches feel like jewelry, and I don’t like drawing any extra or unwanted attention, either positive or negative. They also exposed me to more social interaction, and as an introvert, I prefer to be left alone.

“Excuse me sir, do you have the time?” Nope!

So the advent of cell phones was great for me. When I started carrying a phone full time around 2005, I suddenly had ubiquitous access to the time, and it wasn’t just *any time*, it was the *right* time. I no longer had any practical reason to wear a watch.

When I began running in 2011, I immediately bought an armband for my iPhone and started tracking runs on Nike Plus. Carrying the phone was a bit annoying, but even if I had a GPS watch, I would carry the cell phone for emergency purposes.

Between a 24/7 on-call job and young children, I need to remain in contact when I’m on the run. Leaving the phone behind isn’t an option for me no matter how many times keyboard warriors tell me I should leave it behind.

So during the announcement of the original Apple Watch in 2014, I wasn’t looking for a stylish timepiece. I was looking for a waterproof GPS watch with cellular connectivity. Needless to say, I was disappointed, but there were likely very good reasons Apple’s first foray into timepieces missed my mark.

Primarily, I think the powers that be at Apple genuinely wanted a stylish timepiece with some smartphone-like functions. Tim Cook is over a decade older than me, and he’s more connected to those watch-wearing generations I mentioned earlier. If you do an image search for old pictures of Tim Cook, guess what you find. He’s usually wearing a watch.

Second to Apple’s focus on style, I don’t believe the battery(/power-saving) technology was ready for GPS and cellular. Samsung had its 3G capable Gear S available around the same time, and the reviews I read then said battery life with GPS was terrible. If I could find the review in question, I would link it, but I’m fairly sure it said a run with GPS and 3G drained the battery completely in around 2 hours. That might be fine for faster runners or shorter distances, but my marathon long runs usually last 2-3 hours.

When Apple announced Watch Series 3, I immediately started digging through their website for the relevant battery life details. Fortunately it didn’t take too much digging. With both GPS and LTE enabled, the Series 3 can potentially run for 4 hours. That number is very likely optimistic especially considering that I will be using AirPods for music, but it’s still at least 30 minutes of wiggle room for even the longest of my long runs. 2 hours is my absolute minimum requirement for GPS + LTE + AirPod music, and I’m hoping it holds up.

My Apple Watch Series 3 just arrived on Wednesday (October 10th, 2017). That’s right…this watch hating runner ordered Series 3 immediately upon release. I didn’t go wait in line on opening day because I don’t do that, but it *is* the first product I have ever ordered on launch day.

The setup of the watch with my iPhone 7 and AT&T service was surprisingly (at least to me) flawless. It’s not unusual for Apple’s part of the process to work, but when adding the $10/month plan to AT&T worked without a hitch, I had to pick my jaw up off of the floor. The only improvement I could see in the setup is a faster way to add music to the Watch, and the prompt for adding music should come during Watch setup instead of the first time you open the Music app. I do love the Heavy Rotation music option, though.

On Thursday, I had time to get out for a quick 4 mile run around noon. I left my iPhone at home and headed out with just Apple Watch Series 3 and AirPods. Although I may switch run trackers (or finish SubdueTheSloth) eventually, I went ahead and used NikePlus for this run.

When I started the run, the Apple Watch had already been off of its charger and connected to my iPhone for 6 hours. Over the 40 minutes I was out (warmup, running, cool-down, stretching), I listened to music through the AirPods the entire time. I tracked 2 runs. I did a 5K which lasted about 22 minutes, and then I tracked another 3/4 mile back to my car because I ran out a little too far for my 5K. In between the two runs, I called Sloth Wife from the Watch and talked for about 5 minutes.

When I returned to my car, battery life was still above 70%. As I write this, it’s about the same time of day, and battery life is at 95%. Based on those numbers, it appears that Series 3 will meet my 2 hour minimum requirement. I doubt it will make it through 4 hours, but I’m holding out hope for 3 hours if I don’t make or receive any phone calls.

The next major step is to get Series 3 out for a 9-12 mile run and see how the battery holds up. I’m cautiously optimistic and really hoping I can retire my Garmin and iPhone for normal training runs.

I still don’t like watches, but so far, I do like my little wrist phone gps tracker. Just don’t ask me for the time.

I’ll report back on battery life after I’m able to log some longer runs.