iPod Nano Review–From a Runner’s Perspective!

ipod nano 3g
ipod Nano 3G - apple.com

In December 2007 my then-boyfriend, now-husband gave me an iPod Nano 3g for Christmas.

This iPod has lasted me four years, years which included a long time of commuting 30 minutes to and from work, 8 months of living in Europe (and many hours of traveling on planes, trains, automobiles, buses, etc.) and then my first year and a half of running.

I can run short distances without music, but for anything longer than 3 miles, I just can’t imagine running without it, at least when it’s not a race. I know there are big debates about the safety of running with music in your ears, the “pureness” of it (or whatever!), but I always try to stay alert in my situation, don’t have the volume too loud, and it works for me. I could go further into the “judgment” I sometimes see handed down on runners who run with music, but maybe that is a topic I will cover another day.

Anyway — My biggest complaints with the iPod Nano 3G, as a runner, were having to wear it in a bulky armband, and having trouble turning up (or down) the volume of a song, which is done by rolling your thumb around the wheel clockwise or counter-clockwise, through the plastic face of the armband.

Running a 10K with my iPod and annoying armband, February 2011


I decided a month ago to get the latest version of the iPod nano, which is extremely small and comes with a clip so you can just clip it on your shorts or shirt. If I wasn’t a runner I would see no need for this, but the idea of getting to ditch my armband was enough to convince me this was a great idea.


iPod Nano - apple.com


The nano has three buttons at the top, two which control volume +/- and one which controls the screen being on/off (kind of like the “hold” button on older versions of the nano).

Everything else is controlled by touch-screen, including which function you’re using (music, radio, photos, Nike Fitness, etc.). To see your functions you sweep your finger across the screen to scroll through.

The new iPod Nano, Pros and Cons:



  1. Small and clips to your shorts/shirt while you run. Doesn’t bounce around.
  2. Has FM radio capability, something I always wished my old iPod had. If I’m not feeling my playlists, I can just go to a radio station and be surprised by what they play! Or listen to ESPN radio!
  3. The volume buttons are buttons on the actual outside of the nano. I always had trouble adjusting the volume on the round wheel of the old iPod through the plastic arm band while running.


  1. So small I can see myself losing or damaging it very easily. I try to always secure it in a pocket of my purse or gym bag so it doesn’t bounce around and get mixed up with all my other junk.
  2. The main thing I absolutely hate about it is that most parts of the iPod are touch screen, including skipping to the next song. On top of that, the < > images on the screen which you would press to go back to a song or forward to a new song are actually rather small, so it is almost impossible to be able to locate these buttons on the screen and press one, while running, without pretty much having to stop for a second and look down at it.

You’re running, and you have to look down at the iPod, press the outside silver button to make the screen light up, touch the screen, and then put your fat  (well mine feels fat while doing it!) finger precisely on the < >  button to get it to change. Does this sound easy? Because it’s not.

The above con has caused me to fine-tune how I do my running playlists – I used to just have all my favorite running songs in one big playlist and I would skip a song that came on if I felt like it. Now, I tailor my playlist to the amount of time I think a run will take, and put ONLY songs I know I’m not tired of. That way I don’t have to worry about going through the trouble of skipping a song.

ipod playlists

So as you can see above, I have playlists for my two most recent runs still on iTunes, the 15-miler and a 3.5-miler. I used to just click the Running – All playlist for long runs, but now that would involve too much work to skip a song!


  1. The Nano has the capability to connect to Nike+ Fitness, but I don’t use it so it doesn’t affect me either way.

3 thoughts on “iPod Nano Review–From a Runner’s Perspective!

  1. Army Amy November 9, 2011 / 1:30 pm

    I love my nano! The number one thing I didn’t like about my old iPod was the stink factor! Wearing it in an armband so closed to my armpit wasn’t a problem until my mileage increased. I’m much happier with my new nano!*

  2. Tara @ texasrunnergirl.com November 9, 2011 / 3:32 pm

    I have a shuffle and I LOVE it. It’s super easy to switch through songs and volume up and down. (It’s the clip type like yours) I do love how it just clips on stuff and you don’t need a band.

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