I made two purchases recently to help me with my training. First, were a pair of Sennheiser MX75 headphones. I wanted headphones that fitted more securely while I ran. I stopped using the original iPod headphones last year. I always thought their sound was ok for running at least. The fit was terrible though. I had to adjust them a lot and the cord caused lots of vibration and noise. I started using some Sony Fontopia headphones that I'm not even sure when I bought. I think I had bought them to use on an airplane, since I like in-ear headphones for riding in planes. Anyways, those were much better than the iPod headphones, but they still required occasional adjusting while running and had problems with cord noise as well.
So I ponied up for the Sennheiser headphones. They are as good as advertised. The fit is exceptional, though I had to try a few of the different ear pads before I go the best fit. The sound quality is good. Not as sensitive as the Sony ones, but better imaging. My only complaint is the cord. It is long and gets twisted easily. It can be a real pain sometimes.
The other new purchase was a Nike + iPod Sport Kit. This has seemed like a cool gadget that would be particularly useful to me, but I had two concerns. First, I don't wear Nike shoes and I'm not going to buy the "special" Nike+ shoes. I'm a bad overpronator, so I wear Brooks Beasts. If I wore Nike shoes, I would have lots of knee pain. So I was concerned about keeping the pedometer sensor attached to my shoe. Turns this is not a big deal. I slide it in under the laces near the toe of the shoe and it is very secure.
My second concern was with the iPod sensor. It attaches to the dock connector on the Nano, but I have Marware armband that fits very tightly over my Nano. I've been leaving the end flap open on the armband. I guess there is the possibility of sweat getting in that way, but it seems pretty but it seems pretty unlikely.
Using the Sport Kit is really easy. I need to calibrate mine. I have some pretty accurate routes I've drawn up, so I know it's a little off right now. My stride must be slightly longer than average. I'll do that later this week when I run some 400M intervals at the Santa Teresa High School track.
Uploading the workout data to Nike is the best part of the Sport Kit. Unfortunately I had some more Windows Vista problems. iTunes was unable to open a connection to the internet, though it could open a connection to the iTunes Music Store. To fix the problem, I had to re-enable Windows Firewall. That wasn't a typo. iTunes could not connect to nikeplus.com with the firewall turned off, but it could with the firewall turned on. It doesn't make any sense, but it's true.
Once I was able to upload my workouts, I had a lot of fun using the tools on nikeplus.com. It was really interesting to see the graphs of my pace throughout a workout. I could really see where hills were that slowed me down or when I "caught my second wind" and was able to pick up the pace nicely. It really gives me a good idea of my potential. I'm very confident in being able to run under 60 minutes for the 10K next month (I ran faster than that over a longer distance this weekend.) My new goal is to get under 55 minutes. I've looked at some VDOT tables, and I actually think I'm capable of around 50 minutes, but I doubt I'll hit that on my first 10K.