Shoehacking

Did I ever tell you that I like running? Probably not, as all I’ve been blogging about so far was web development or technology-oriented stuff. And even if I tried writing about something else for a change, I ended up with a Greasemonkey script, damn it.

Anyway, I like running. Not long ago, I’ve decided to try out the Nike+iPod Sport Kit, which seems to have gained significant popularity among some runners. If you haven’t heard of it, the Nike+iPod kit is a neat accessory that turns your iPod into a workout companion. While you’re running, it measures your distance and pace, and gives you voice feedback on your performance.

So I got myself an iPod Nano and the kit, which consists of a receiver that is attached to the iPod, and a sensor that should be placed in your shoe. Nike “strongly recommends” that you buy a special pair of running shoes that have a little pocket under the insole where the sensor is supposed to go. However, I already had an excellent pair of Ecco Receptor shoes that I found very comfortable, and I wasn’t keen on switching just because of the sensor issue.

Suspecting I wasn’t the only one on the globe with this problem, I googled around and found that I have two options: buy a special holder for the sensor, or hack it into the shoe somehow — I chose the latter, of course. I came across this blog post, which has a nicely collected list of hacks (as well as commercial products) that people invented to use their sensors with non-Nike+ shoes.

The method that I used is a modified version of the first hack shown on that page. In the original method, the sensor is tucked under the shoelaces and kept in place with a small piece of velcro. I didn’t use velcro, I just stuffed the sensor under the laces, but first I wrapped it in a tiny ziploc plastic baggie. Here are the ridiculously simple instructions:

Step 1. Put the sensor in a plastic baggie

Putting the sensor in a ziploc plastic bag

Step 2. Stuff the baggied sensor under the laces

Baggied sensor tucked under the laces

The use of the plastic bag has two major benefits:

  1. It makes the sensor sit tightly under the laces, making it virtually impossible for it to fall off.
  2. It protects the sensor from dirt and rain (yes, I’m tough enough to run when it rains).

I have now run about a hundred kilometers with the sensor attached like this, and it never even got loose. If you’re looking for a quick hack that doesn’t involve any sort of shoe surgery, I recommend you try this one. It might not work with your shoes as well as it worked with mine (the spot under the laces needs to be quite tight), so go for a test run first and make sure the sensor sits steadily after a few hundred meters. Have fun!

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