At just $19.95, the Milestone Pod provides a lot of bang for the buck. Today I tried mine for the first time. Let me walk you through my first run.
For the uninitiated, the Milestone Pod is a little lightweight gizmo, about the size of a Dove chocolate, that you snap onto the laces of one shoe. It uses an array of sensors and an accelerometer to measure the position of your foot 200 times per second while you run or walk. Sophisticated algorithms, based on extensive knowledge of biomechanics, turn all that data into useful information about your pace, distance, cadence, footstrike (heel, midfoot, toe), leg swing (how high you raise your heel toward your butt), impact rate, stride length, and—perhaps most importantly—the lifespan of your current running shoes.
All of this information syncs with the tap of your finger into a free app on your phone, where it is presented in fun graphics that show the changes in your mechanics over the course of your run. When your cadence picked up, did your pace? When you ran faster, was it with a longer or shorter stride? How did your footstrike change during the run, relative to time on your feet? Relative to your pace?
If you’re starting to get excited, you should be. Let me reiterate: It costs just $19.95. It uses one user-replaceable watch battery. You don’t have to turn it on or off—it just knows when you’re going for a run. One battery provides about 6–8 months of use. You can’t feel it on your shoe.
And, my web-footed Northwest friends, it’s waterproof. No matter what Egon says, you can cross streams with this thing.
So here’s what happened when I opened the box.
First step, I put the battery in the pod. Keep the box handy, because you’ll need the last two digits of the code on the bottom to finish linking your pod to the app on your phone.
Next, I downloaded and opened the app. Free. Piece of cake. I registered using my email address (more on that later) and gave the app a few useful pieces of information about myself, like height, weight, gender, age….
Then I paired the pod with the app. That’s when you refer to the box, but you can find the code inside the pod if you pitched the box.
You’re prompted to select your shoe model and size from a list. In this case I chose an older pair of Nike Zoom Vomeros. The app asked me how many miles I already have on the shoes so that it can keep track of the life left on them. I said 200 miles, an estimate; if your shoes are new, start at zilch.
Just about ready to roll. I clicked the pod on the laces of my right shoe. It’s a snap! (Listen for it, so you know it’s secure.) I hiked up my socks, did a primal squat, and went for a run with my funky friends Louis and George.
I did not notice the pod during the run. It stayed right where it was supposed to. Also, though real-time delivery of some metrics is in beta, I appreciated not being interrupted.
Take note: The Pod knows the difference between a run and you just fidgeting in the driveway or doing some light drills, etc., beforehand. It intelligently trims off both your pre- and post-run dawdling and any stops you make. So what you see is net time, and not gross time.
When I got back home after the run, all I had to do was click the little “sync” button in the upper, lefthand corner of my phone’s screen, within range of the pod (about 30 feet). Voila! My run was revealed on my phone:
When you “tap for details” on that screen above, you get an almost dizzying amount of information. It’s impressive. I am going to dump a series of screenshots here for you to see what the Milestone Pod told me about our first run together. Click them to enlarge.
You are also presented with an opportunity to calibrate your pod. Had I known this course to be of a different length, I could’ve done so. You could first test the accuracy of the pod on your local track, if you like, and make any necessary adjustments. In lane 1 of a 400m track, a mile is four laps plus 9 additional meters. It’s kind of fun to test their accuracy at different speeds, too.
Three final features of interest I want to share. First, you can adjust which metric you want the app to focus on, and you’ll receive more information via email about it. Second, with one click you can export your running log from the app to your email. It shows up as a spreadsheet and includes cadence, footstrike pattern, stride length, etc., so you can compare one run with another and see progress over time. Third, PRC can send you rewards—or at least praise—for racking up the miles! When the app determines that your shoes are probably worn out, we might send you a coupon to put toward new ones. You’ll just have to try it and see….
I’m pleasantly surprised at the friendliness of this entire interaction with the Milestone Pod. It also tells me a lot of stuff about my mechanics that was heretofore available only via a pairing of an expensive sportwatch and a special chest strap. Time, and maybe a follow-up post, will tell if I make good use of this data.
While this reviewer discounts the notion that there is one, transcendent, correct way to run, there are some generalities to be made about the efficient ways a machine shaped like a human being can move. The Milestone Pod could help you identify and address energy-wasting hitches in your giddyup. It can also help prevent injuries, by both recommending timely footwear replacement and alerting you to potentially damaging ground impact rates. Anything that keeps you healthy allows you to be consistent, and that’s where you’ll find your smoother, faster groove.