While I have been an athlete since my youth and spent decades playing American football and rugby, I am an amateur runner who hits the road because I have the ability to still run. As a data geek, I love today's modern fitness technology that lets me capture all of the details of my runs so I can figure out ways to improve while remaining free from injury since I am quite a competitive person.
The folks at NURVV sent along a pair of the NURVV Run insoles for me to test out and I've been running with them for the past six weeks or so. These insoles follow my testing of a large number of GPS sports watches and smartwatches, the Altra Torin IQ shoes, Stryd power meter, COROS Pod, heart rate monitors, and other fitness technology.
The NURVV Run insoles are priced at $299.95 and while I have found the data quite interesting, I've always been a disciplined runner who has been mostly injury free. However, the data is presented in a way to help you target areas for consistency and overall health so there is value for every runner. You just need to figure out if there is $300 worth of value in the NURVV Run insoles.
For people recovering from injury, trying to improve their form, or trying to increase their performance then the NURVV Run insoles may be exactly what they need to gain insight and develop a plan for improvement. It is also great for those who coach themselves and need some guidance. There are a couple of things I want to see improved though, even for these candidates.
Package contents and setup
The retail package contains the two NURVV Run insoles, two trackers, a charging adapter, microUSB to USB-A cable, and two clip adapters. When you select the NURVV Run for purchase, you designate your male or female show size, in half-size increments, to ensure you select the proper size for your shows. I wear a men's size 12 so was sent the XL size.
The insoles are specific to the right and left side as well, which is obvious as they match the angle of your shoe. There are 16 sensors positioned on each insole so there is a significant amount of data being captured and processed to accurately track your running health. Simply remove the insole from your selected running shoe and insert the NURVV Run insole into each shoe. Place your original insole back over the top of the NURVV Run. You may have to loosen up your laces just a bit with the slightly added thickness, but the soles are very light and thin so they may fit without any lace adjustment.
You then connect the adapter clip onto the outside of each shoe. There are clips provided for shoes with thin walls, but the default setup worked perfectly with my Brooks Ghost shoes.
With the insoles properly inserted, connect each NURVV Run tracker to the adapter and then attach a microUSB cable to charge them up. After fully charging up the trackers, you should launch the smartphone application and walk through setup and registration of your NURVV Run insoles.
There are Android and iPhone applications available. After installation, follow the setup process to connect the NURVV Run trackers to your phone. Unfortunately, I learned that you currently cannot switch up your smartphone and have your data synced down from the cloud to your account on a second phone. As a mobile tech reviewer, I swap phones quite a bit so lost a couple of weeks of data and had to start over and then designate one phone as my NURVV Run platform.
The NURVV Run smartphone application has tabs for Home, Run, History, Health, and Settings. The Home screen provides your seven-day performance summary with training recommendations.
The Run screen is where you choose from an Outdoor or Indoor run. After running with the NURVV Run for a bit you will then have the ability to create custom technique workouts that start with your baseline data and then help you develop a workout to improve in selected areas. I loved having this onboard coach since I am trying to increase my cadence.
I never run indoors since I cannot stand treadmills and like to run in the rain, dark, and other conditions. Thus, I did not evaluate the NURVV Run indoor run option, but there is a Footstrike Trainer module for indoor run workouts that provides real-time visualization of your footstrike so you can see and feel how your feet land with changed form. If I travel to a hotel with a treadmill, I'll give this capability a try in the future.
The History tab lists all of the runs you made with the NURVV Run insoles. Tap on a selected run to view a GPS plot of the run, distance, time, average pace, cadence, step length, pronation, footstrike, training load, calories burned, and elevation. The data can also be viewed by split distances.
The Health tab shows a graphic of your running health with quadrants for training load, pronation, cadence, and balance. A breakdown of the graphical data is listed below the plot. Tapping on each element brings up more plots, recommended training for today (there is that coach again), recommendation statements, and a section called Learn More that shows you more information to improve in the selected area.
The last tab is for Settings and this is where you manage your personal details (for some reason it has me as 185.42 feet tall and I can't change it), manage the trackers, test the sensors, choose your units of measurement, connect an external Bluetooth heart rate monitor, connect to Strava, and view the help and support files.
Other ways to run with NURVV
At first I thought I could only use the NURVV Run insoles on runs where I carried my smartphone with me, but thankfully there are other options for running without a phone. The first option is to run with just the trackers since GPS is integrated into the trackers themselves. Read up on the details of this method to ensure you get the light sequence right or else you may run without capturing your run data. The large Activity button on the outside of the trackers is used in addition to the small on/off button on the inside of each tracker.
I primarily use Garmin watches so it was great to see in the FAQ section that you can run with your Garmin watch connected to the NURVV Run insoles. The first step in this process involves using the smartphone application to enter the settings area of the trackers and toggle on the ANT+ option. It appears as a FP (footpod) sensor on your Garmin watch.
If you run with an Apple Watch, then you will be pleased to know there is also a NURVV Run app for your watch. The NURVV Run Apple Watch app supports outdoor runs and pace coach runs. You use your iPhone and Apple Watch at the same time to setup the initial connection between the NURVV Run insoles and your Apple Watch. After setup is initiated, you can then leave your iPhone behind and experience visual cues in the Apple Watch app and if you have Bluetooth headphones connected then audio cues will be heard as well.
Areas for improvement
The NURVV Run insoles are a new form of fitness technology and there is still some room for improvement. GPS satellite acquisition sometimes takes several minutes when other GPS sports watches connect in seconds and couple of times I gave up waiting and didn't record my runs with the NURVV insoles in my shoes. Maybe NURVV can implement GPS satellite updates that sync from your phone like we see with many wearables as this tends to speed up the satellite acquisition process.
I understand that most people don't switch phones like I do, but people do upgrade their phones so we really need to see cloud syncing of the data to a server and then the ability to sync that data back to the application installed on any smartphone the user connects to the trackers. Coaching and improvement is best served with long term collection and analysis of data, but losing the data when you switch phones is not acceptable.
The charging adapter solution is a bit flawed. I bent two microUSB cable ends with the current charging adapter as the weight of it angled when plugged in. The cable also doesn't stay in place very securely. I would like to see wireless charging like we see with the Stryd pod and COROS POD, but if a cable connection is needed then it needs to be more robust.
Daily usage experiences
The NURVV Run insoles are designed to withstand rain, mud, and puddles, but don't fully submerge them for extended periods. It is recommended that the insoles dry out fully between use. The insoles will last for approximately 1,500 miles of running, which is about three sets of running shoes for typical runners.
The trackers look the same at first glance and in the beginning I spent the first few times matching the sides to the clips on my shoes. I then realized that the right tracker has the large Activity button on the outside panel that is used to run without your phone. There are also two LED lights on the top of each tracker with various indications. NURVV has a nice guide on all of the light options on the website and I highly recommend you spend some time reviewing the support documentation as there is great information on the trackers and even some coaching information provided by NURVV.
It was great to see confirmation that my pronation is neutral as that is what I always believed, but could not confirm by myself. My foot strike is shown as balanced with nearly all of it in the rear foot section. I haven't experienced injury with this foot strike pattern and have shoes built for heavier runners, however I understand that midfoot strikes are better for long term running health so can use the NURVV Run insoles to try to improve in this area. NURVV provides workouts and techniques in the app to improve in this area.
As a casual runner and data geek, I am fascinated by the data gathered with the NURVV Run insoles and like the approach with foot-focused tracking technology. Since I do not have a coach, I appreciate what NURVV offers here with guidance to improve form and running health. The data and analysis are also very motivating for improvement and this alone may help justify the $300 price tag.