As a former runner, in the dark days before inexpensive tracking/training technologies, I find myself attracted to and motivated by powerful new tools — many of which require limited or no new hardware. In fact, dabbling with the fine RunKeeper Pro iPhone app ($10) led me to my first phone case purchase in years (giving my slippery 3GS a bit more grip, so I don’t launch it down the block).

In a similar vein, Nike has just launched Nike+ GPS ($2) — dropping their footpod in favor of tracking runs via the iPhone’s integrated GPS capabilities. Beyond pace, GPS functionality also brings with it relatively accurate run mapping – both fun and useful.

I haven’t yet purchased or taken the Nike+ app for a jog, but Engadget has. While the reviewer didn’t do a head-to-head comparison with RunKeeper Pro (or Adidas MiCoach), he seems relatively pleased with its features and performance given the low price.

Indeed, while it’s probably not as deep as RunKeeper Pro, Nike+ looks to meet the basic needs of many in an attractive package. However, it seems as if Nike doesn’t elegantly background the app (critical for saving battery and streaming Slacker) and I’m hopeful they ultimately link this to existing or new Nike+ accessories, such as a wrist band remote or heart rate monitor.