At some point I need to tally up how much of my disposable income each year goes directly to Steve Jobs. It may be somewhere between our grocery bill and our combined clothing purchases.

The latest Apple gadget is the iPod Nano. Not that I don’t already have an iPod. Two, in fact. I have one of the first generation iPods that’s still functioning very well, thank you. Except that the electronics world has moved on and now I can’t buy any accessories that fit it. At some point, it was decided that we were all staggering under the weight of our iPods and later models were made lighter and thinner. I like to think I’m strong enough to lug around a 7 ounce iPod. It was the color video screen that suckered me into the sleek black 3rd Generation model. Which, I might add, I’m perfectly happy with. I’d be using it today every day if someone at Apple hadn’t come up with this tie in with Nike. Seems you can make your iPod function as a pedometer and running coach. All it takes is a little $24 adapter kit.

But here’s the rub. It’s not enough to have an iPod and a pair of running shoes. The system only works with an iPod Nano. And you can only fit the sensor into a specially designed pair of Nike shoes. So my perfectly serviceable iPod and my extremely comfortable ASICs have to be retired, at least for the purposes of my daily walks. Nearly $250 later, I’ve got the set up that allows my $24 adaptor kit to work.

Was it worth it? I’ll have to say, with a slightly embarrassed downcast look, that it is. First there’s the Apple factor. It takes minutes to master with no manual. Having blown my way through at least three pedometers – all of which involved reading manuals that were clearly written by people with English for a second language and who had never even seen the product – the time savings alone were worth it. And that’s if I’m assuming my time is worth about the hourly wage paid by McDonald’s.

Secondly, it really works. None of my pedometers ever measured my walking speed correctly – at least judging by the wide discrepancy between what any of my pedometers said when I was on any treadmill at the gym set to 3.9 MPH. And again, the pedometers required precious days of my time to calibrate, understand and operate. The iPod Nano system was pretty much pop the sensor in your shoe, turn on the Pod and start walking. On the treadmill, it’s spot on. So either every treadmill at the gym is out of calibration at the same rate or there is a vast conspiracy of electronic devices and my Nano and the treadmills are in cahoots.

Third, the Nano uploads all the details of my exercise session up to my personal Nike workout page– including nifty graphic representations of my varying speeds, distances and calories burned. Again, I pretty much plug it into the computer with a USB cable and it happens automatically.

But the best part of the set up didn’t become apparent until I’d walked with it for about a week or two. I decided to do a long walk and set the Nano for 10 miles. As always, each mile was marked by a cheerful, if slightly robotic, voice that said something to the effect of “you’ve completed 2 miles, 8 miles to go.” When I’d finished my 10 miles I pressed the button to officially end and save the workout data. All of a sudden I hear: “Hi, this is Lance Armstrong. Congratulations. You’ve just reached a personal best for distance.” Wow! Now I’m motivated to walk beyond 10 miles to see what other Nike athlete cheers me on. Tiger Woods? Mia Hamm? David Beckham?

It was all optimism and motivation until I mistakenly selected a 5 mile walk when I’d only intended to go 3 miles that day. No problem, I thought, I’ll just end early. But when I pressed stop, Robot Lady sternly admonished me, “Are you SURE you want to stop? You haven’t completed your goal.” I’m not sure I like being hassled by my electronics. Or at the very least, couldn’t it have been a particularly tough Nike athlete like Serena Williams saying “Get yo’ lazy ass in gear and finish that workout!”

Anyway, get the Nikes and the Nano. You won’t regret it. And, Steve, give me a call. You need to put me on the payroll. I have to support my Apple habit somehow now that I’m transitioning into farmerhood.