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January 16, 2010 / elodie kaye

my Coach

Adidas has a new gadget out to answer Nikeplus.  Adidas miCoach has a speed sensor and a heart rate monitor, and the receiver can also link with any mp3 device of your choosing.  The foot sensor ties into the shoelaces, so you can wear whatever shoes you like, too.  The most interesting thing is that it has no display.  It provides all of its information by audio only.  Adidas claims that it will give you real-time encouragement based on targets (presumably speed or heart rate goals), through a pair of headphones.  This is configurable, so you can turn off the nagging, and have it report just the facts.

The marketing for miCoach claims that athletes perform better with voice coaching.  None of my gym teachers were tyrants, but I’ve had a couple of running coaches.  It’s pretty indisputable that we all ran better when Kurt yelled at us.  Once a year, my coach would corral us all before a big hill to test our maximum heart rates.  This hill was about an 8% grade and went up for about 600m.  Each of us wore our own heart rate monitors and he stood about three-quarters of the way to the top.  We’d warm up in groups and then he’d have us run up the hill at 5K speed.  Three times.  If you did not hork your last meal on the final rep, he would yell at you.  Actually, he’d abuse you even if you were slowing down to pass out, but if you didn’t look sick he might holler mean names.  It did give each of us a pretty confident number for our max heart rates, though.

I’m not sure about miCoach.  Maybe if they used the voice of an actual drill sergeant.  Kurt, my old coach, wasn’t in the army, but he was a navy pilot, which seems close.  I’m not convinced that miCoach can be as creative as Kurt.  I mean, I’m sure the computing power exists to simulate Kurt’s tyranny in all its colourful variety, but it seems dubious that my stride length, rate, and heart rate could be correlated to give an accurate picture of overall effort.  Kurt only had to look at our eyes.  miCoach has a much tougher job.

Kurt also knew how to conserve his authority.  He didn’t let out his full bellow often.  During most track workouts he would bark short words or phrases, to make us pay attention.  I think though, he had impact because he was paying attention.  I’m sort of doubtful that miCoach is smart enough to simulate that.

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4 Comments

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  1. Keith Peters / Jan 16 2010 7:49 pm

    Just watched the demo. The voice sounds more like Casey Casem than what I imagine Coach Kurt to sound like. Not sure how well I’d respond to Casey Casem coaching me. If I were having a good day, it might be a wholesome and fun experience. On a bad day, it could get ugly.

  2. elodiekaye / Jan 16 2010 8:56 pm

    😀 No, Kurt doesn’t have a voice suitable for TV or radio, but he really isn’t as stern as this story makes him sound. I sort of expected miCoach would have some different voices to choose from. What do you think, would you prefer having your HR, pace, distance spoken to you, or displayed?

  3. saragracer / Jan 17 2010 9:24 pm

    I think it might be a good way to balance thinking about pace and heart rate, without getting to focused on checking, checking, checking. I’m intrigued, especially because I’m considering a gadget purchase since my NikePlus conked out months ago.

    • elodiekaye / Jan 17 2010 9:46 pm

      That’s a good point about possibly checking compulsively if it’s visual. Because of the coaching I had, I got fairly decent at judging my effort and pace, so I don’t pay much attention to my watch any more, but I remember doing that before. Did you like the voice prompting in the NikePlus system?

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