Gadgets

Smart running insoles to help you improve

Running watches are convenient for tracking route, heart rate, and other types of essential running data, but they can’t track everything. That’s where smart running shoe insoles come into play. Nerve, a London-based startup, has created the Nurvv Run in hopes to help runners reach their goals. They monitor important metrics like pronation and footstrike and providing real-time pace coaching feedback through the Nurvv app. Read our full Nurvv Run review to see if these smart insoles should be your next big running gear purchase.

About this Nurvv Run review review: I used the Nurvv Run for two weeks running software version 3145. The Nurvv Run review unit was provided to Android Authority by Nurvv.

What you need to know about the Nurvv Run

nurvv run review tracker on foot 3

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Nurvv Run insoles consist of two parts. The insoles themselves — which slip under your normal running shoe insoles — and foot pods that attach to the insole clip on the outside of your shoe. You take these foot pods off to charge the system in between runs.

The insoles connect to Android and iOS, as well as Garmin and Apple watches. The Nurvv platform supports data uploads to Strava and Apple Health. Nurvv says more platforms are on the way too.

But why buy smart running shoe insoles over a GPS running watch? There are 16 pressure sensors in each Nurvv Run insole to monitor your running performance. They will track all the standard metrics you’d expect — cadence, step length, pace, distance, and elevation. Additionally, they’ll track metrics you can’t get with a running watch like footstrike and pronation. You can also pair an external heart rate sensor to get that data in the Nurvv app or for real-time heart rate zone cues.

The Nurvv Run system aims to help runners improve their running form, reach pace goals, and reduce injury by providing a unique running health score. Those are lofty claims. I think Nurvv delivers on some of them, while others need improvement.

What I like about the Nurvv Run

Light, comfortable design

Perhaps more experienced runners will take issue with this, but to me, the Nurvv Run insoles are quite comfortable. All together, they weigh 22 grams each. They’re super thin, too. I didn’t need to loosen my running shoes much after installing them. I couldn’t really notice a difference when standing, walking, or running with them either.

The pods on the side of your foot protrude out a bit more than I’d like, however. It makes stretching with the insoles attached cumbersome at times. But when I’m out running, I don’t notice them much.

The Nurvv Run pods come with an IP67 rating for dust and water resistance. They should be fine to wear in the rain or if you step in a puddle. Nevertheless, I wouldn’t go dunking your shoes in a pool after your run. Importantly, the pods have an IP67 rating but the insoles don’t. I was specifically told by Nurvv that if I’m caught running in the rain, I’d need to wait for the pods and connectors to dry completely before detaching them from the insoles.

Hardware connectivity is a big win

nurvv run review both trackers on shoe

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

You can use the Nurvv Run insoles a variety of ways: on their own, connected to your phone, or connected to an Apple Watch or Garmin watch.

Use them on their own (no phone or connected watch) and you’ll still get a standalone GPS connection. I did not expect this to be a feature of the Nurvv Run when the product was pitched to me, but I’m happy it’s there. This will certainly appeal to you if you don’t like running with a phone or a bulky watch.

Standalone GPS performance is acceptable, not great. Below, you can see a four-mile run with the Nurvv Run (blue) and the Garmin Fenix 6 Pro (orange).

nurvv run review gps data vs garmin fenix 6 pro

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

The Fenix 6 Pro, as seems to be the case lately, shows me running through buildings and random yards when I’m actually on the side of the street. See the six-block straight on National Avenue to see what I’m talking about. The Nurvv Run was able to keep my path in the street for the most part, but not totally. The unfortunate thing is that this area of the route isn’t even heavily covered with trees. It’s just an open residential neighborhood.

Further along in the run (below) you can see the Nurvv Run took a page out of the Fenix’s book. It showed me running through houses and yards. Again, this area is not covered by trees. Overall, the Nurvv Run’s GPS seems to be hit or miss.

nurvv run review gps data vs garmin fenix 6 pro 2

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

As mentioned, you can connect the Nurvv Run to your Apple Watch or Garmin watch. Connect it to your Apple Watch and you can listen to audio cues with your Bluetooth earbuds. Audio feedback isn’t supported with Garmin watches, unfortunately.

Connecting the Nurvv Run to your phone, however, will get you the best overall experience thanks to Pace Coach.

Pace Coach is wonderfully helpful and a little annoying

Using your phone, you can tap into Nurvv’s Pace Coach — one of the headline training features of the insoles. Pace Coach gives you real-time coaching during your run to help you reach a specific target pace, whether it’s for a recovery run or or a speed session. This is one of my favorite parts of the Nurvv Run.

After you get a few runs under your belt, you’ll select a base run on which to build your Pace Coach workout. If you recently took a five-mile recovery run but would like to decrease your speed a bit next time, select that run in the app. The Nurvv app will estimate that run’s overall score from 0-100 (very easy to very hard) and set it as the baseline for your workout. You’ll then select your target score by sliding a toggle right or left. Increase the target score by a few points and your pace and total running time will decrease. You can also decrease the target score for an easier, slower run.

I appreciate the constant feedback while running, but it can get extremely distracting.

Then, go out for your run. You’ll want headphones connected to your phone for this part. During your run, the app will give you real-time coaching. It will tell you to increase or decrease your step length or cadence in order to meet your target pace score by the end of your workout.

It’s actually quite helpful in practice as long as you’re willing to listen to a jarring voice for a few miles. Pace Coach is there to help you improve, so it’s assumed most people won’t be spot-on with their stride length or cadence the entire time. That means you’ll hear a voice telling you to change things every few seconds. It gets old quickly. There were times where I wasn’t ready for all the audio feedback and my five-mile run felt like a half marathon.

Overall, Pace Coach is well-implemented and will be very helpful for a lot of runners. I don’t have any grand ideas on how to improve the audio feedback, though I would like to see it work with Garmin watches in the future. Currently Apple Watches are the only wearables that support live-coaching audio cues.

I’d also like to see Nurvv implement live-coaching for more running goals, not just pace. Pace goals are useful, but I’d love to see a target goal for something like stride length or cadence. Nurvv already monitors stride length and cadence anyway. Theoretically, it shouldn’t be too difficult to implement this feature.

I have legitimately improved my running form after using the Nurvv Run

nurvv run review pronation details

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

I have a pronation problem. Well, an over-pronation problem. The Nurvv Run insoles helped me identify it and gave me steps to increase my neutral pronation.

This is where the Nurvv Run has a leg up (or foot up?) over a running watch. Those 16 pressure sensors inside each insole are able to track your pronation, or the inward rolling of the foot as it makes contact with the ground. The Nurvv app will give you a pronation breakdown in chart form for each foot, calculate your overall neutral pronation percentage, and tell you how to improve.

It recommended that I reduce my over-pronation and gave me a standard set of guidelines on how I may want to do that. None of the data presented here is particularly personalized. If you need to improve your pronation, you still may be stuck with Googling tips and tricks on how to do so.

nurvv run review footstrike overview

I’ve also improved my footstrike with the Nurvv Run. From the very first time I tested these insoles at CES 2020, I knew I needed to increase my forefoot striking. After each run, the insoles give you a heatmap of your footstrike breakdown. It includes percentages for forefoot, midfoot, and rearfoot striking. You’ll also get footstrike graphs based on each foot, as well as barebones instructions on how to improve your footstrike.

If you’re running on a treadmill, you’ll want the Nurvv app open in plain sight. It shows you a real-time footstrike breakdown so you can make corrections while you’re running. It’s awesome.

These metrics likely won’t appeal to advanced runners who have already established their form. Nevertheless, I think everyone else will get a lot out of this metric. I know I did.

What could use some work

This is not $300 hardware

The Nurvv Run insoles are a first-generation product and that’s reflected in the hardware. In its current form, the hardware is just not good.

I’ll preface this by saying the insoles aren’t the problem here — it’s the pods. Once the pods are clipped into place (on the insoles or on the charger), they’re incredibly sturdy. Too sturdy. It’s extremely difficult to snap them off of the insole or charger clip. I feel like I’m going to break the hardware every single time. One or two times, I’ve even completely given up on removing them because I get too frustrated.

And I’m not alone, either. Apparently many Nurvv Run users break the charging mechanism when trying to snap the pods off of the charger. I’m hoping this will be fixed with the second-gen Nurvv Run.

Better hardware would greatly improve the entire Nurvv Run experience. Here’s hoping these things are fixed in the next Nurvv Run insoles.

There’s also a question of how long the insoles will last. After all, you’re wearing them under your actual shoe insoles, so they’ll be taking a beating. Nurvv says they will last about the lifetime of three pairs of running shoes. That could be a couple years if you’re lucky, but avid runners might need to replace theirs sooner. If your insoles (not the pods) stop working, you can buy replacement insoles from Nurvv’s website.

Some of this is out of Nurvv’s control. Smart insoles are inherently more difficult to add to or remove from your running shoes compared to a simpler product like a foot pod. Shoving the insoles into your shoes and forcing the clip onto the side of the shoe lining will always be more awkward than simply clipping a foot pod onto your laces. That’s the price you pay if you want 16 pressure sensors below your feet, I guess. Regardless, if you frequently change shoes or only want to use the Nurvv Run sporadically with a single pair of shoes, I think most people will get pretty tired of swapping them out. At least I did with my Nurvv Run review unit.

Battery life is too short

nurvv run review tracker connectors

Credit: Jimmy Westenberg / Android Authority

I want to cut Nurvv some slack. Smart running insoles are a newer product category and thus come with a few hardware limitations. However, battery life will no doubt be an issue for most people. Nurvv estimates the Nurvv Run pods will last about five hours on a single charge. That almost lines up with what I’ve experienced over the last few weeks. My battery metrics are leaning towards 4.5 hours of use.

Most people won’t go through the entire battery in a single run. Nevertheless, five hours isn’t long enough to feel comfortable not charging them in between every run or two. I now have battery anxiety with my running shoe insoles, which is not something I’m thrilled about.

For what it’s worth, charging time is short. If you forget to charge up your pods, it shouldn’t take long to get enough of a charge for a short run.

Running Health score can’t be taken at face value

While Nurvv doesn’t provide much in the way of recovery data, it does offer an overall Running Health score. It is based on your training load, cadence, pronation, and balance. Each one of these metrics gets a score of 0-100, which are then added up to create an overall Running Health score. A score of zero means “not healthy” and could result in a higher risk of injury, while a score of 100 means “very healthy” and likely means there’s a lower risk of injury.

You can tap on each one of these metrics to learn more about how Nurvv is analyzing certain aspects of your running. Each page is full of info with charts, summaries, and recommendations. The goal is to use this information to decide whether or not you’re overtraining or if you should improve in any specific area. All of this is to help you avoid injury as much as possible.

I like the idea of an all-encompassing Running Health score, but Nurvv’s implementation is missing key data points that will almost certainly impact most runners’ actual running health. The Running Health score does not include important factors like heart rate variability or sleep duration or quality — two extremely important metrics when determining recovery and overall running health. Other fitness platforms that have compatible running watches (Garmin, Apple, Whoop, etc.) are able to track HRV and sleep to provide more accurate recovery details. Thus, it’s best not to take Nurvv’s Running Health score at face value.

They’re expensive (most of the time)

We’ll get into the value proposition in a little bit, but the Nurvv Run insoles are expensive at $300. This is an awkward price point for something this niche.

I believe the Nurvv Run insoles are best used in conjunction with a wrist-based wearable. Most people looking into the Nurvv Run insoles will probably already own an Apple Watch, Garmin watch, or another GPS running watch. That wrist-based wearable will no doubt remain your go-to running companion, while the insoles should be looked at as an add-on. However, $300 for an add-on — no matter how good it is — will likely be too expensive for most people. After all, you’ve already spent hundreds of dollars on a running watch.

Odds and ends that need improvement

Here are a few other hardware and software annoyances I’ve found throughout my testing:

  • Limited third-party app support: The Nurvv app can send your data to Strava and Apple Health if you so choose, but that’s it. Unfortunately, you won’t find Training Peaks, MapMyRun, or any other popular running services.
  • No export options from Nurvv app: Those who like analyzing their running data in other software will need to rely on a Strava/Apple Health connection to make that happen. As far as I can tell, you can’t export GPX or FIT files from the Nurvv app.
  • The app can be buggy: The Nurvv app feels like a work in progress in some respects. When I signed up for the service, I said I was 5’11” tall. The Nurvv app converted that to centimeters but never labeled it as such. According to the app I’m 180 feet tall. I have run into a few other bugs in the application, though they have since been fixed.
  • Missing some metrics: For as much as the Nurvv Run insoles track, there are some things we’d like to see added in future iterations. The big ones we’d like to see are running power and recovery insights.

Nurvv Run pricing and availability

The Nurvv Run insoles are available from Amazon, Best Buy, and Nurvv.com for $300. They come in four sizes and just one colorway.

The insoles rarely see discounts, so most of the time you’ll be stuck with the $300 price point. They were on sale briefly for Black Friday this year, so we’re hoping to see them available again with that sweet $100 discount when Christmas approaches.

Nurvv Run

Looking for data on your pronation, footstrike, and overall running health? Look no further than the Nurvv Run, a pair of smart running insoles and trackers that clip onto the sides of your running shoes. They’re light and durable, and they’re essentially a no-brainer for those who want to improve certain aspects of their running.

Nurvv’s biggest competition in this space is the Stryd foot pod. While the simple, clip-on foot pod misses out on foot strike position and pronation metrics, it offers running power data for less at $219.

Nurvv Run review: The verdict

If I could give a Product With The Most Potential Award at Techno Stalking, I’d give it to the Nurvv Run insoles. There’s a lot here to like, and much of it will no doubt be improved with the second iteration. Foot strike and pronation, in addition to the live-coaching features, are particularly big wins for the insoles.

However, if your form is already well-established and you can’t see yourself using the live-coaching feature, I’m struggling to see a reason for you to buy the Nurvv Run. Most of the metrics the Nurvv Run tracks can already be tracked with a running watch.

Here’s hoping Nurvv is able to iron out some of the kinks with its next iteration.

Source link

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Most Popular

To Top