Difference Between Treadmill & Nike Plus


Many people enjoy running and include as part of their workout routines. New technologies give us a variety of training options to add both workout data and fun to our runs. The Nike Plus can enhance your workout as a stand-alone device or by providing an interface with your iPod or iPhone. The treadmill still offers some benefits and additional control over your running workout.

Speed, Distance and Pace

Both the Nike Plus and the treadmill will tell you running speed, distance and pace, but they each use a different technology to accomplish this. The treadmill, with its built-in motor and running belt, knows how fast and far you go simply by the speed the motor turns. The Nike Plus uses a small accelerometer in the foot sensor to measure your speed and distance. The sensor detects each time your foot strikes the ground and then relays this information to the Nike Plus receiver. The Nike sensor can gauge your running speed by the length of time the sensor stays in contact with the ground and the length of time between foot strikes.


A treadmill will accurately calculate your speed, distance and pace. After all, you can't go faster or slower than the machine without falling off. The Nike Plus reportedly has a 90-percent degree of accuracy right out of the box for most runners. If you have an overly long or short stride then you will want to calibrate your sensor for best results. For myself, I found the sensor to be fairly accurate with some exceptions. On runs where I was going significantly faster than normal, like intervals or downhill runs, I noticed that the Nike Plus tended to under calculate my distance. Also, as I became a better and faster runner I had to re-calibrate the Nike Plus for optimal performance.

Ease of Use

Treadmills remain extremely easy to use. You can typically get on them, push a button and start walking or running. The Nike Plus System is simple but it does require some initial setup. From personal experience I found it easy to start and stop a workout as well as change my workout music. After many miles I had to replace my original sensor and it took me a little bit of fumbling to deactivate the old sensor and tell my receiver to pick up the new sensor.


With the Nike Plus System you can train when and where you want. It works both indoors and outdoors and does not use GPS technology. In using a treadmill you give up some flexibility because treadmills are located indoors at either a gym or your home and are not easily portable.


The treadmill may have you running indoors but it does offer some training advantages over the Nike Plus. The deck, or running surface, of the treadmill is cushioned for impact. This prevents a lot of wear and tear on your body and joints, especially if you spend a lot of time running on sidewalks or asphalt. A treadmill is also great for pace training and interval training where you are working on maintaining or increasing your running speed for a specific period of time. The Nike Plus allows you to train using your natural running stride just like you will on race day.


You can purchase the Nike iPod Sport Kit for $29. This buys you the foot sensor as well as the receiver unit that attaches to your iPod. The iPhone 3GS and iPod Touch (2nd generation) conveniently have the receiver built into the unit so you will only need to purchase the iPod Sensor for $19. The Nike Plus shoes are convenient because they have a built-in slot for the foot sensor, but you can use Nike Plus without them.

Most of us will use the treadmill at our local gym. The monthly gym dues, however, can add up to significant dollars if you only use the gym for running and do not make use of the additional gym amenities. If you decide to buy a treadmill, then the prices for a new machine can range from $1,000 for a good home model to over $7,000 for a high-end commercial treadmill.


With the Nike Plus you can sync your workout with the Nike Plus website. The website will track and map your running workouts and chart your progress. The Nike Plus website also gives you the ability to communicate with other Nike Plus runners, accept workout challenges, find a coach, set running goals, and learn about special events. Treadmill manufactures include more features in today’s models than they did in the past. Some incorporate personal entertainment options so you can watch TV and listen to music while you run. There is also a virtual trainer option that allows you to upload, download and sync your workouts via a USB device.