Inspired Running: Nike+ running app, Spotify premium, and bluetooth earphones

Note: this post was written in 2014 and much has changed since then. Please visit Spotify or the app store for your device and see what features are offered now.

original post, Oct 2014:

There’s nothing like going on a great run especially when you are inspired. I like running, but I really *love* music. Running is a great way to get out, have a good workout, and enjoy music without distractions, but a good music mix is what really makes my runs inspired. So the big challenge is finding ways to keep music mixes fresh and runs inspired.

Here are the tools and tricks that I use:


Apple iPhone
An Apple iPhone is my main platform. This hosts my running and music apps, plus (as opposed to an MP3 player) it keeps me connected for any calls that may come in while running.

Nike+ Running App:
Nike+ Running App is a nice tool for runners. This app, combined with your phone’s GPS, lets you track your route, pace, and distance. It works with your phone’s default music player, too, and gives you audible voice-over information about your run (distance, time, pace). As you’ll see, I choose to bypass the phone’s music player in favor of Spotify.

Spotify Premium music service:
Spotify is a fantastic commercial music streaming service. They stream 20 million songs to over 40 million users. Finding songs and creating playlists is simple. You can also find playlists that other users have created (such as running mixes). If you haven’t tried it, Spotify is free to try out. The Premium version of Spotify also lets you listen to any song, on-demand, without ads, on your mobile phone for $10 a month.

Bluetooth headphones:
I’m not a big fan of headphones with a wire connection to a hand-held music player. I always manage to catch the wire on something and either:

A) drop the player on the ground (bad, breakage) or
B) rip the headphones off my head (pain, embarrassment)

I’m not crazy about those big clear-plastic armbands that people use to strap their smartphones to their biceps, either. Too clumsy and awkward for me.

Solution? Bluetooth headphones or earbuds. There are many options available (with better features), but I’ve settled on the NoiseHush NS560 Bluetooth earbuds. Yes, it does have a wired connection to earbuds. To avoid the wire problems listed above, I clip the Bluetooth receiver to my waistband or a pocket and then snake the cord under my shirt up to my ears. After pairing the earbuds with my phone, I can fiddle with my phone all I want without tripping over a cord. Features I like about it:

  • it’s loud. Some are underpowered. This one is loud enough for me.
  • it’s cheap. If it breaks, I don’t care. I’ll just replace it.
  • it has Next / Previous / Pause buttons. I’ll typically listen to a playlist in shuffle mode. If I don’t like a song, I can quickly hit the “Next” button and not have to fumble with my phone. Same thing with the “Previous” and “Pause” buttons.
  • it has a decent-sized battery. I can use it 4 or 5 times before needing to recharge it.

It’s far from the best Bluetooth earphones out there, but it does the job.

Problem with the Phone’s Music Player:

On an iPhone, the Nike+ Running app natively integrates with the phone’s default music player. This lets you choose a playlist, an artist, or shuffle-mode for your run. That’s great, but after several runs, I’m often wanting new music. So that involves:

  • connecting my iPhone to my PC
  • starting up iTunes
  • finding new songs that I want from the iTunes Store
  • buying each song
  • creating a new playlist
  • downloading and syncing the new songs

Most of the time, this is WAY more trouble and time than it’s worth. Plus at $1 – $2 a song, it adds up quickly. Too often, I end up keeping the same music which is then no longer inspiring.

Enter Spotify. Now, I can run the Spotify app on my computer and make a new playlist and it automatically shows up on my phone, ready-to-go. No downloading or syncing is needed. Or I can find any playlist that anybody else has made (e.g. other running playlists) and add them. Or pick-and-choose songs from many playlists and create my own. The result is new music, found quickly, that is instantly available for my next run.

Yes, there are many other music streaming services available. But because of these features and ease-of-use, Spotify is my music drug of choice.

Using Spotify with Nike+ Running app:

So to use Nike+ Running app with Spotify and bypass your phone’s native music player, do this:

1. First, go to Spotify. Start playing whatever music you want – a playlist, an artist, an album, etc. While the music is still playing, press the iPhone’s Home button to get back to the home screen. The music will continue playing.

2. Start the Nike+ Running app. Press the “Run” button at the top like you normally would to start a new run. Now, under the “Music” setting, select “No Music”.

basic run

select no music

3. Press the red “Begin Run” button when you are ready to go.

Now Spotify will continue to play music and Nike+ Running will give you voice-over messages about your run just as it usually does. And if you have Bluetooth headphones with Previous, Next, and Pause buttons, you can skip or pause songs without even having to touch your phone. In fact, I usually hit the “Begin Run” button in the Nike+ Running app and then stuff my phone in a pocket. No need to touch it again until the end of my run (especially with Nike+ Running app’s cool auto-pause function).

Additional Tip:

Check out the following post to see how you can go on runs and listen to Spotify WITHOUT using any data from your phone’s data plan!
Blog Post : How to listen to Spotify using no data from your phone plan

Feel free to leave me any comments of how you keep your music fresh and runs inspired. Happy running!

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